If you had asked me twenty years ago if I would ever be able to say I did my own staircase refinishing, I would have laughed at you. I’ve always enjoyed painting, but woodworking of any kind was left behind in grade 8 shop class. Oh how times change…
We bought our house as a new build about fourteen years ago. At the time, we thought that carpeting the entire upstairs of the home was the best way to go, to allow for warmth and nice play areas for our three young children. Fast forward more than a decade and that carpet was no longer very appealing. We had planned to replace it and the children expedited that plan by leaving the water running in a plugged sink upstairs…flooding the hallway, part of a bedroom and part of the stairwell.
That was not a good day. To this day, no one has claimed responsibility.
So, the carpet was ripped up and replaced with a dark and durable laminate wood floor, but that left the stairs. I didn’t like the small bump left by laminate nosing and we felt that the laminate would be too slippery on the stairs, so laminate was out. I decided to take on the task of refinishing the stairs to create a more modern and brighter entry (our door opens right to our staircase) than we previously had.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the carpeted stairway, but did find this old gem where you can see a bit of it.
So we had beige carpet with a dark stained railing. I did like it when we moved in, but the style no longer appeals to me. My plan was to stain the steps a dark ebony with white risers and white spindles and a dark railing. The first step was to sand the stairs.
I started with my little mouse sander and it just wouldn’t take the white paint off of the edges. Being a resourceful woman, I grabbed a small cheese knife and started scraping the paint off with it before sanding with the mouse sander. It was taking an eternity. I was averaging about an hour per step, and that was not including risers.
Day two of sanding began and my father-in-law arrived with his rotary sander. I’m buying one of those! The cheese knife was no longer needed and I was able to cut my sanding time in half. I finished the stairs, swept, vacuumed and wiped them down…for the first of many times, with the exception of the two large corner steps.
These two steps are plywood with no finished nosing. I wasn’t sure what to do with them yet so I left them alone and moved onto the railing. The railing itself was quite easy to sand and remove the stain, but the spindles were not stripping so easily. I bought a stripping spray that helped a bit but it was still a challenging process and I wasn’t completely in love with the ornate spindles, so I decided to start new.
The railing was definitely the most challenging part of the stairs, so I will continue with that saga next week in part two of the Stair Refinishing DIY post.