With the new floors going into our house, something had to be done with the stairs. We wanted to change them over to wood as well, but stair noses are waaaaayyy expensive. Being budget conscience, my husband and I decided to redo them ourselves with the wood underneath our carpet. My husband was already tackling the floors, so I took the stairs project.
Pay no attention to the snow suits and boots at the bottom of the stairs (it’s real life here!).
The carpet was worn and ready to go. It took me a day to take it up and pull out all the staples. I believe there were approximately 739,246 staples in our sixteen steps. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating - but it felt like it. We were excited to see the wood wasn’t in bad shape!
That’s our dog, Aimee, photo-bombing the stairs picture. Actually, she’s just worn out with the renovations on the house and came to look at me as if to say, “Really? Something else?” She then walked away defeated after staring me down for a while.
The next step was to begin sanding the stairs. If you take on this project, here is a vital step to not miss: Tent The Area You Will Be Sanding. I am not the most patient of people (no comments from my family, please!) and wanted to jump right to the sanding. I did three steps, then understood why you tent.
I used a palm sander with very coarse grit on the initial sanding, then went back over it with a fine grade to smooth the wood out. This is my palm sander. He’s been with me for 13 years now – three home renovations and numerous Lowry Hollow projects. Worth it’s weight in gold. Oh, and that’s the stairs behind it after the fine sanding.
After cleaning up from the sanding and taking the tent down, the fun part of staining the stairs began. We went with a darker stain so the imperfections in the wood would not be as evident. I used Minwas “providence” Stain. Since we still needed to use our stairs, I did every other step, left it to dry 24 hours, then did the other steps. I marked the steps that were already dry with painter’s tape so we would know which were okay to walk on. After allowing those to dry for 24 hours, I began the polyurethane process. For this I used Minwax Fast Drying Oil Based Polyurethane. Three coats were able to be put on in a day (with a few hours dry time between coats) and they were left to dry for 24 hours. Since we still would need to use our stairs, I did the same procedure as with the stain, applying it to every other step and marking the ones that we were able to walk on.
After the stairs were finished, it then came time to paint the risers and trim. I chose Behr paint (from Home Depot) in Cottage White. It’s the color of just about all of our trim. Now. After repainting all our baseboards and doors downstairs. Sigh. Anyway… I used green Frog Tape for painting. It does give a cleaner line with painting and works better than the regular blue painter’s tape, but still not the “perfect” line I would love. (It couldn’t be me, right? It has to be the tape!) Sorry there are no pictures of this process, but finally, here is (almost) the finished product:
Ta – Da!
Yep, I love them! They are so much easier to clean and take care of. And here’s the crazy thing – they are actually quieter! We don’t know how that happened, but the squeaks are gone. Bonus!
There was one more thing I wanted to do though. My husband wasn’t quite sure about this, but I had long wanted to add something more. Thankfully, turns out he loves it. Here is the Big Reveal:
I wrote out everything I wanted our stairs to say and took the list along with a box of adhesive backed vinyl to my sweet friend with a Cricut. She cut the letters out for me in no time. While I did most of this project while my husband was at work and kids were at school, I just couldn’t wait for this part. I immediately measured and began applying the letters.
It gives a fun twist to our steps and was the icing on the cake for me after all the work!
Here is a rundown of the financial cost of redoing our steps (all prices are from the Chicago area). I’ve rounded up to the nearest whole number.
- $10.00 two packages of sandpaper
- 10.00 plastic sheeting (to tent the area)
- 11.00 polyurethane
- 8.00 stain
- 5.00 painter’s tape
- 3.00 three foam brushes (used to apply stain)
- 18.00 six paintbrushes to apply poly
- 6.00 paintbrush for painting risers
- 37.00 gallon of Behr paint for risers & trim (we ran out of what we already had)
- 9.00 one box of adhesive backed vinyl
- $117.00 Grand Total
That’s a minor renovation/major change to the house for just over $100! So worth it, and way cheaper than buying the stair noses.
Just as important, here is a cost time-wise. (Especially for those with families.)
- 1 day to rip carpet up and pull out all staples
- 1 day to tent area and do both sandings
- 1 day to clean up and prepare steps for staining
- 2 days to stain stairs (one day each for every other stair procedure)
- 2 days to polyurethane (one day each for every other stair procedure)
- 2 days to tape off and paint trim (our risers and trim took three coats)
- 9 days Grand Total
Finally, here are the products that I used:
The paintbrush you see is the my favorite for all projects. It has a short handle so I can get a good hold and allows me to do better with detail. They are very reasonably priced for $6 at Home Depot.
One last look at the before and after:
So glad we did it and well worth the time and money. Good-by worn out carpet. Hello wooden stairs!