The ‘almost after’ Stairs Update

The ‘almost after’ Stairs Update

So here we are.  The official “before” shot of our entry way and stairs.

Wait, hold up.  This isn’t really the ‘before’ shot.  Here’s the REAL before shot from the day we moved in.

So we’ve definitely made some progress since Day 1.  Painting all the stained trim and doors took a lot of time.  Lots of priming and waiting to dry; priming and waiting to dry; painting and waiting to dry; you get the point.  But that’s finished, the wall paper is down and the walls are painted a shade of gray that sometimes I like and sometimes I don’t.  It’s a lighting thing—sometimes the gray looks a bit blue.  But I think once I get the walls decorated they will look great.

Here’s a close up of the stairs before getting started–

I played around with some tools adding texture to the stairs–a hammer, some wide thread screws, random objects that I hammered on to the stairs.  You pretty much can’t go wrong with whatever you do.  My only suggestion is to start out light and after you stain you can re-assess if you want more distressing or not.  Our stairs were definitely beat up already and had plenty of distress on them which made my job much easier!  There are a million staple holes in them which I was worried would look weird, but in the end it looks absolutely great!

There was this weird wood appliqué thing-a-ma-jig on the side of the stairs that had to come off.  It took me about a minute to pry the thin wood layer off.  I’ll paint part of that white when I’m finished to match the rest of the molding.


Okay, I have to admit that I’m someone to tends to jump in to projects and neglecting the prep work.  I’ve learned the hard way that this is not a good idea.  So this time around I blocked off all the doorways to keep the dust isolated as much as possible.

This may seem the most “duh” thing ever–but WEAR A MASK!  When I sanded my dining table I skipped out on a mask because I just didn’t have one—errrrrr, bad idea.  By the end of the day I was coughing and wheezing like crazy.  I’m a nurse.  How could I be so dumb?!  HA–You live and learn!  And when you’re stubborn, sometimes it takes a little longer to learn;-)

Here’s the half-way progress point of sanding the stairs.  Can you see the difference?  And have I ever mentioned how much I love my Dewalt palm sander?  It’s MAAARRRVELOUS!

I stained the first stair and had to stop and take some pictures because I was so excited how it was turning out!

Another tip that is so obvious, but I didn’t think about it until I had just started—When you’re working on stairs, you have to do every other stair so you can get up and down them!  Duh, right?  I’m so thankful I realized it before I got halfway down the stairway.

It looks like I didn’t skip stairs here, but I did.  I was able to go ahead and stain the faces of the stairs since they don’t actually get stepped on.  This made staining the skipped steps go really quickly because most of the surfaces were already finished.

I took the arm rail off the wall and sanded it and gave it a little distressing too.  Here I’m doing the “screws in a ziploc bag, banging on the wood distressing effect”.  I have John from Young House Love to thank for this one.  YHL did a great tutorial for aging wood that you can check out here.

I was able to do all of this last Saturday.  I’m not finished with the stairs completely, but I’m almost there.  I need to finish the hand rail and seal the stairs.  As you can see, the walls are quite bare.  I’m working on that.  I’ve found that I’m better at big-picture things and not so great on accessorizing. That’s the fun part of this house reno, though—trial and error!

So here are the stairs almost finished. I’m so excited about them!

I went darker with the stain to have a strong contrast between the light colors in the rest of the house.  I’ll be on the hunt for a stair runner soon too since wood stairs can be a little slippery—and I’m a total clutz.

Hopefully I’ll have a REAL after shot soon!


27 responses to “The ‘almost after’ Stairs Update”

  1. LOVE what you’re doing!!! Your house is looking so great and you are doing an awesome blogging job!:)

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Hey there! Found your blog today via TLC….I love the stairs….I am wanting to rip the carpet off of ours and do some staining. In the pics it looks like you possibly had carpet originally??? If so, is the wood under your carpet standard??? Thanks for taking a minute. Love your blog!

    • Hi! I’m glad you stopped by:)

      The stairs were originally carpeted. We ripped up the carpet and the wood underneath is just builder grade, ugly wood that’s meant to be carpeted over. Some people would just go straight to having new treads installed, but I was looking for a more “rough” look….and new treads is a pretty penny that we just don’t have right now.

      It’s a time consuming project to sand and stain it all, but the whole project was literally less than $10. Just a can of stain and lots of time!

  3. Hey Emily! The finished stair case looks amazing! I too had pinned that original stair case photo from pinterest and have been searching endlessly for some diy tip to get that – and then I saw your site. YAY!
    Curious about two things:
    1- what color stain did you use?
    2- did you seal it with a polyurathane?
    and it looks like you just applied it with a rag instead of paintign it on and then wiping it off?

    Can’t wait to do this with my stair case!

    Love, Love, Love it!


    • Sorry for the late reply, Dana…I’ve been MIA.

      I used Minwax Jacobean stain. Honestly, I’d go a shade lighter or mix it with a lighter stain if I was going to do it again. I did seal it with a poly afterwards…but only one coat because I didn’t want it to be too shiny or “finished” looking. I like the roughness of it. I used a rag to apply it rather than a brush because I felt like I could control how much stain gets applied easier that way.

      Good luck with your stairs! I’d love to see a picture after you do it:)

  4. We are doing something similar to our stairs, however, cant figure out what to do with the flooring at the top of the stairs. we are putting down laminate flooring upstairs and dont know how to cover the end of the flooring at the top of the stairs.

    What flooring do you have upstairs? How did you cover the edge of the flooring at your stairs?

    • Sorry for the late reply!

      We have a lapacho laminate from Floor&Decor Outlet( upstairs. Although it’s been a little bit since we finished the floors, I have to admit we haven’t gotten around to the shoe molding and transition pieces yet.

      For the top of the stairs I just plan to get a stair nose molding. It may mean having to trim the first plan on the floor next to the stairs, but I think it will work.

      If you get around to it before I do, let me know what you decide!

  5. OMG LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to do my stairs, I’m terrified as to what’s under the carpet, are yours solid wood? What of mine aren’t? The horror!

    • That’s the thing–ours aren’t finished wood stairs. They’re just builder grade wood stairs that are meant to be covered with carpet. My stairs are most likely as ugly as can be expected under carpet. So the risk is, you rip up your stairs and you find wood treads (wahoo!!) or you find stairs like mine. Either way, sometimes it’s the better option than icky, stained carpet!

  6. What a great idea…I have ugly stairs going to the basement just like yours before the “make over”. I love the results of your work and I can do it myself…thank you…I will start this weekend.

  7. Our stairs have a landing at the top that we plan to do in the same vinyl stone tile as the kitchen where it meets and another landing half way up the stairs where we’ll put the tile also. How to transition the two surfaces?

  8. Hi 🙂 just came across your blog! Loving it! Wondering how you did the side of the stairs-the part in facing into hallway, I am currently doing mine and am not sure if I should stain them or paint them the color of the walls???? I’m stressed. 😉

  9. Hoping you’re still checking comments on this thread!! What flooring is at the top of your stairs? We have carpet but may switch it out to hardwood, just wondering what would look best! Thanks!

  10. I see that you had nails on either end of the treads, what did you end up doing with those, did you just pound them in and stain over them?

  11. What is the name of the color stain you used. It looks great and I’m trying to do something like this to my stair too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.