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DIY Stair Makeover: REVEAL

The day has finally arrived for me to share the final reveal of my staircase makeover.

Alot of progress has been made since I announced and started this latest DIY endeavour only 3 weeks ago.  It’s amazing how one change can totally impact the aesthetic of a space.  As you know, my home is my experimental playground which is constantly work in progress, and this stair makeover has been an incredible update.

Take a look at the result…

And here is the progress that I’ve made from start to finish…

Amazing change, right?!

Since my last post where I left you off at the staining of the stair treads, I’ve been a non-stop painting machine! And actually, I’m still painting (which I’ll get to more in a bit).  After the filling of the holes, the sanding of the wood, and the staining of the treads, it was time to paint the stair risers, the balusters, and the banister – and that’s what I’ll be sharing details about in this post.

In my last post, I left you off here…

So after that, it was time to prime!

Whenever I have a big painting job (like my kitchen makeover last summer), I always turn to Benjamin Moore as my go-to paint line.  Their paints are of really high quality and it applies with an effortless manor.  Since this project was pretty big, I immediately turned to them for assistance and they kindly donated the product for this project (Thanks BM – I love you)!  Their Aura paint line is like no other and actually has a primer built-in (which is why my kitchen cabinets came out so great and still look as fabulous today).  BUT, since I was working with a white hue, I thought it would be best to use an actual primer FIRST, then the Aura paint on top.

To start off, I first taped off all the areas that weren’t to be covered with the primer and that was basically just the newly stained treads and the surrounding walls.

Once everything was properly taped, it was time to apply one coat of Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Primer.  I learned recently that the primer coat does not need to be a thick coat  – a thin coat just to cover the wood surface is perfect.  As long as your coating the wood, it’s blocking the stain from coming through and preparing the surface for the paint color.

All primed and ready for paint!

Once the primer was dry, which didn’t take long (the stairs were thirsty!), it was time for the 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Aura paint.  For this project, I chose the color Snowfall White, which is essentially white, but has a slightly warmer hue (no blue undertones).

And of course I’m using my favorite Purdy Brushes 😉 (I wasn’t paid to say that – just sharin’ the love).

I mentioned that I applied 2 coats of paint, but in some areas a 3rd coat was needed.  Thin layers of paint are better than thick, so 3-4 coats isn’t unlikely.  It’s best to apply thinner coats than to end up with drips!  If you do though (like me), continue to go over the drips with your brush.  To avoid fast drying paint so you can fix those drips, it’s important to use a paint additive like Floetrol.  Learn more about that from my post on Tips for Painting Furniture.

The painting around the balusters took a long time and it was the most grueling part, but honestly looking back, it wasn’t that bad and it’s done – YAY!  Once I was finished with the white areas (the risers and the balusters), it was time to paint the newel post and banister.  A few people thought I was crazy when I said I was going to paint the post and banister instead of staining it to match the treads, but I’m glad I stuck with the idea, because I love it!

I decided to use the same color as my kitchen cabinets which is Benjamin Moore Texas Leather. It was one of my all-time favorite colors and can be seen here and there throughout my home.  Painting the post and railing gave the stairs a unique touch rather than a typical stained railing.

One itty bitty part that I didn’t mention above when painting the risers white was that there was a large gap at the edge where the treads and risers meet.  When painting, I didn’t have to be perfect with the white paint because I knew I would be adding a small piece of cove moulding afterwards.  Take a look…

I found the cove moulding at Lowe’s and it was about $2.50 for an 8′ long piece.  It actually wasn’t wood and instead a plastic composite. (The wood version was $5+, so this less expensive version was just fine).  At this point of the project, I dragged the Mister  back in to help out.  He measured the length of each tread and cut the cove moulding using a miter box.

Using Liquid Nails, we adhered the moulding to the tread/riser to cover the gap.

And Voila, the gap was hidden!

Once the paint was completely dry, the unveiling was about to begin a.k.a. the removal of the painters tape…

A little trick that I’ve learned along the way is to score the joint where the tape and the painted surface meet with a sharp razor.

This allows the tape to be easily removed and avoids the paint from coming off where it’s supposed to stick (see below where I didn’t score the joint).

Once the tape had all been removed, the stairs were basically done – not too bad right?!

And now it’s time for a ton of pictures (I hope you don’t mind)!

Looking from the front room into the foyer

Close up of the banister

The stenciled foyer wall looking into the front room

Psst…  You probably didn’t realize, but check out all the mouldings in the foyer and front room – I painted them white too. YES, as I was painting the stairs, I just continued right around the room (+ the dining room and kitchen).  Those oak mouldings had to go!  My goodness, the house feels so much fresher now – more on that soon.

That’s a whole lotta dark wood and I love it 🙂

I definitely was apprehensive about removing the carpet from the stairs and risking the possibility that one of my young kiddos (or me) could fall – carpet has a lot more padding than hard wood.  Thankfully this is my awesome solution…

Sisal Carpet Treads!

These carpet treads are perfect and I love them.  The kind folks at Natural Area Rugs sent me these attractive woven sisal treads which have a cotton twill border and non-slip back.  They’re ideal for giving the added protection for people walking up/down the stairs, plus they protect the actual stairs.  After all that work, the last thing I’d want are scuffs and scrapes!  But the beauty is that you can still see much of the stairs unlike a typical stair runner which covers the treads and risers.

The carpet treads have velcro on the back, so they easily attach to the stairs with a sticky back.

I’m ecstatic about this solution!

And it’s complete! What do you think?  Have you ever considered giving your stairs a makeover? Thank you for following along over the past few weeks!

Related Posts:
The Beginning of a New DIY Project
Phase 1: A New DIY Venture Begins
Phase 2: Filling Holes & Staining Treads
Kitchen Makeover Reveal
Stenciled Foyer Wall

Staircase Makeover: Filling Holes and Staining Treads

It’s almost been 2 weeks since I posted about the stair makeover, but don’t think I haven’t been hard at work.  The staining took quite a long time and not because it was difficult, but for another reason – keep on reading.  Anyway, I can officially say that the staining is complete and I am at the half way point now (I hope).

This second phase of the staircase makeover covers sanding the stairs, filling the gazillion holes from the carpet tacks and staples, and staining the treads. So let’s jump right in and get started!

Project Details

Duration of Phase Two: 1.5 hours for sanding & filling holes; 2 overall hours for staining / polyurethane (5-10 minutes for each coat)
Phase 2 Difficulty: Easy to Medium
How Many People Needed: 1

The supplies I used for this phase of the project are:

  • Orbital Sander (sandpapering by hand is also possible, but will take longer)
  • Wood Filler (in a color to match the wood)
  • Stain – I used Minwax Wood Finish in Ebony
  • Polyurethane – I used Rustoleum (water-based) in a gloss finish
  • Cheap brush or sponge brush that can easily be thrown away
  • Mineral Spirits (if you don’t want to use a cheap brush and instead wash them)

In my last post on removing the carpet and prepping the stairs, I left you off with this…

Once the carpet tacks and staples were fully removed, it was time to sand the stairs.

As I mentioned above in the supply list, I used my orbital sander to get a really smooth finish and to take away marks and old paint drippings.  Manually sanding the treads and risers with sandpaper is fine too, but will take longer and is more laborious – if you’re looking to build your arm muscles, this may be your calling 😉

Once the stairs were smooth, I used wood filler to fill in the many holes left from the carpet strip tacks and the carpet pad staples.  There were also a few holes from the natural grain of the wood that I also filled in.

After the holes were filled and the wood filler was completely dried and hard 24+ hours later (it’s important that the wood filler is really dry!), I sanded again.  The wood treads were ready for staining when the stairs were completely smooth to the touch.

Now to the staining process…

I don’t have alot of staining experience, and frankly staining has always scared me.  Unlike painting, it seems so difficult, but thankfully I was proven wrong with this project.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was desiring a really dark stained tread for the stairs, so I chose to use an ebony finish.  Before making the final decision though, I reached out to my blogging bud and the very talented DIYer, Kate of Centsational Girl.  I had showcased her stair makeover as one of my inspirations, and wanted to know what she used for her dark tread.  She told me that she used a product called Duraseal, which has a molasses-like consistency and gave a darker finish because it was less watery than typical stain.  I couldn’t find the Duraseal and was anxious to get started on the staining, so I chose to use Minwax Wood Finish in ebony.  It was the darkest color they had, so I was up for the task of trying it out.  As an alternative, Kate gave me the advice of trying a gel stain which like the Duraseal has a thicker consistency.  I’m a bad girl because I didn’t take her advice, BUT thankfully I’m happy with the result I achieved, so all is good 🙂

When staining, it’s key to apply thin coats of stain and angle the brush at a 45 degree angle to avoid bubbles.  After cleaning the stairs with a rag to remove any remaining dust from the sanding, I was ready to get started. I used a cheap bristle brush to apply the stain, so I could easily throw it away after the stain applications.

Here are the few steps I took to stain the treads.

1. I started at the corner of the treads.

2. I feathered my brush towards the center, parallel to the wood grain.

3. Then I carefully dragged my brush along the edge of the tread and the stair stringer.

4.. After that I feathered the stain in the same direction of the grain again.

The reason for doing these steps is so the tread is thoroughly covered with stain AND minimal stain gets on the stringer (side piece).  For my stairs, I will be painting the stringer white and using a stain blocker beforehand, BUT I was nervous (here comes my apprehension of using stain again) and didn’t want too much stain to get onto the stringer.  Alittle nutty, I know… but it worked.

Continuing with the staining, I applied it to the remainder of the tread in the same direction as the wood grain.

Now that I shared the particulars on how to stain, let me tell you some more details…

The staining process took a while and the major reason was because we still needed to use the stairs.  What to do??  Well, I ended up staining every other stair so we could still get up to the second floors. We did need to sleep, of course 😉

So… because I had to break the project up into two phases, it took longer.  After applying the first coat of stain, it soaked right into the wood, and was dry within about 1-2 hours – there was absolutely no wiping away needed.

Then I applied a second coat of stain, which also soaked right in and took about 1-2 hours to completely dry.  At this point, the stair had a really dull finish to it, but it still wasn’t dark enough for my taste.

So a day later, I added a third coat of stain and that was key!! It took a good day for it to completely dry, but I was happy. Then I was able to move on to the other stairs that were still raw.

The more coats you apply, the darker the result

Once the third coat of stain was complete, I sealed the stairs with Polyurethane.  I had tested one small area using a semi-gloss finish, but it wasn’t right, so I decided on a gloss finish.  It gave just enough sheen, but wasn’t overly glossy (if that makes sense).

Kate recommended applying 2-3 coats of polyurethane and this time I took her advice.  After all my hard work, I wouldn’t want these stairs to get ruined!

The polyurethane that I used had a blue tinge when applied (which I freaked out about for only a few seconds), but quickly went away – thank goodness!

And that’s it for the staining process.  This same process and techniques could also be used for furniture.

I got a few comments from readers after my last post that they enjoyed how thorough and explanatory my post was, so I tried to do the same with this – I hope you enjoyed it and learned something new.  If you still have questions, let me know!

It’s really coming along and I’m excitedly anxious to start the next process… painting the risers, banister, baluster, and stringer! Until next time…

Staircase Makeover: A New DIY Venture Begins

One evening late last week, the Mister and I found ourselves without something on our to-do list, so we finally embarked on the staircase project that I posted about 2 weeks ago.  It took longer than expected to start this project, but I needed my man’s muscles and braun to assist on the beginning stages.

If you remember back, the removing of the carpet was one of my DIY project goals for 2012 and I’m excited that its finally begun.  I initially wanted to remove/replace all the carpet on the second floor (yet it’s not within the budget), but removing the carpet on the stairs is going to be a big improvement since that gets the most traffic. Even though I’ve never been happy with the carpet, it was in place more for safety than aesthetics – now it’s time to say ba-bye!

We’re lucky to have real wood on the stairs instead of plywood, but there are still alot of details to giving these stairs an entire new look, so I’m going to break the process into a few posts. Plus they’re not nearly done and I couldn’t wait to share the “happenings” with you till the end.

Take a look…

Project Details

Duration of Phase One: 1.5 hours
Phase 1 Difficulty: Medium
How Many People Needed: 1

The first phase includes steps to remove the carpet, remove the carpet tack strips, and how to transition the wood steps to the 2nd floor carpet.  But before we begin, here are the supplies that I used.

  • Hammer
  • Cats Paw
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Muscles 🙂

For this stair makeover, we started by removing the carpet. Every two steps, we used an X-acto blade and cut the carpet where the tread and riser meet. This made the process more manageable with smaller pieces of carpet instead of one large piece.

As we went along and took the carpet off of every two stairs, we removed the carpet tack strips with a hammer and cats paw.  A cats paw is a great tool that we use for alot of projects.  For the stairs it worked well to get under the tack strips, yet didn’t damage the wood on the stair tread.  I highly recommend it 🙂

Watch your toes on those tack strips – they’re sharp!

Once the carpet was removed from the entire stair case, it was time to remove the staples from the carpet pad…  and boy, there were alot of them! For this step, it’s best to use a needle nose plier and/or a flat head screw driver.

The last step for this first phase was to cleanly transition the existing carpet and the newly exposed wood stair at the second floor landing.  Using an X-acto knife, we trimmed the carpet so there would be enough to wrap around the top step.

It didn’t need to be perfectly cut, but it was important that there was enough carpet to wrap it around the top stair nosing.

The carpet pad also needed to be trimmed.  Using a scissor, we trimmed the pad to be at the same edge as the stair nosing.  Trimming it at this point instead of wrapping it around the nosing (like the carpet) made it easier to staple the carpet under the nosing.

Lastly, using a staple gun we stapled the carpet under the top nosing.  It’s important to use longer length staples so each goes securely through the carpet and into the wood.

The result is a clean transition from wood to carpet…

There is still much more to do to get these stairs to completion, but we’re on our way.  Many of you have asked what we plan on doing on the stairs (thank you for taking interest) – stain, paint, stair runner…  so many options.

After lots of thought, I plan on staining the treads a dark walnut finish, painting the risers and balusters a crisp white, and painting the banister and newel post a taupe color (same as my kitchen – BM berkshire beige). Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

1. source unknown 2. Centsational Girl 3. Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige 4. Walnut stain

Again, here’s a peak at the changes from phase one.

The Beginning of a New DIY Project: Staircase

Ever wonder how I come up with the DIY projects around my home?

I’ll be honest, I don’t often sit n’ stew over things I want to do, but instead when a thought comes into my head, I ACT… quickly.  Time doesn’t pass long without me getting my feet wet (meant figuratively, not literally – most of the time).

Just moments ago (literally this time), a new idea popped in my head and before you know it, I was hard at work.

If you recall a few months ago, one of my goals for 2012 was to recarpet the stair and second floor bedrooms.  Well unfortunately with all the work and $$$ we’ve been spending outdoors, it’s just not possible at the moment.  The worst part of the carpet is on the stairs due to all the foot traffic day in, and day out.  So just a few moments ago, I decided to rip off the carpet from the bottom stair to see what was there.

I moved forward slowly just in case there was more work to be done than we could currently manage, but this was what I found…

Holy Cannoli… the stair underneath is in great condition!  Thank goodness.  I quickly called my husband at work and told him the good news.  I wasn’t quite sure of what his reaction would be (“Jenna, not another DIY project” OR “wow, that’s great”).  Thankfully it was the latter and he was super psyched as well.  He even said we could start it this weekend – YIPPY!  The carpet wasn’t hard to lift, but the nails and carpet tacks will be, so I’ll need his muscles for this DIY project!

So I’m off and have my weekend plans cut out for me…

And that’s how a new DIY project is born! Have a great weekend – What are your plans?