June 24, 2012

Stair Makeover ~ Part 1

I have never tackled a project this big before but I figured what better way to learn than to try it?!?  My husband thinks I’m nuts but I LOVE DIY projects.  I decided that I was tired of the carpet on our stairs.  These are the first things you see when you enter my house.  The carpet was so dirty even shampooing wouldn’t get it clean anymore.  I decided that I wanted to convert them to hardwood.  I have to admit that I didn’t think this would be as difficult as it’s turning out.  The first five steps are wider and the carpet only ran up the middle.  Since I could see several inches on either side I knew what the wood underneath would look like (or so I thought).  I was a little more concerned about the steps further up that were completely covered by carpet . . . . but not enough to cancel my project.Smile
Here’s what the stairs looked like when I started.
stairs beforeI started by pulling up the old carpet.  Not too tough.  However, once I pulled up the first step I ran into problem number 1.  When the contractors installed the steps they only stained far enough in until where the carpet started.  Oh well, I was already in this far so I kept going.  I pulled up a few more steps and flipped the carpet up.  The backside was so gross!!  Definitely kept me motivated to remove the rest of it.  This was about the point where I snapped a quick picture and e-mailed it to my husband at work.  Luckily, he was distracted by the gross carpet and didn’t think to ask me what I was doing. . . .
carpet removal 1carpet pad removal

As I worked my way up the stairs my daughter helped vacuum up the dust.
dust removal
Pulling up all the carpet didn’t take too long.  I just kept pulling in one long strip as I worked my way up.  I decided that I didn’t want to cut anything in case I had to put it back down.  This is where I ran into problem number two.  Once I got past the finished 5 steps I discovered that the rest were just junk boards they installed because they knew they’d be covered with carpet.  However, I didn’t see how I could reverse what I started so I just kept going and figured I’d worry about it later. 
junk stair treads
Once the carpet was all pulled up I started in on the tack strips.  This was probably the hardest part and was really tough on my hands.  I had to be careful of the sharp nails and also try not to gouge the bottom 5 stairs I was trying to reuse.  I also pulled up most of the nails holding in the boards above the bottom 5 steps to save time later when I would need to remove them.
tack strip removal
I decided that I would paint the risers as they weren’t pretty boards and I really didn’t want to replace them.  I filled all the nail holes and then primed and painted them.  I also painted the stringers on the both sides. 
                                      left side                          center                    right side
painted stringers 2carpet removed and ready to paintpainted stringers and risers
In order to reuse the first 5 steps I needed to sand them so I could try to stain them all one color. I borrowed my dad’s “mouse” sander that has a finger attachment so I could get between the balusters. This actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Before I stained them I made sure to vacuum all the loose dust and wipe with a tack cloth.  I chose a gel stain since it’s easier to apply.  I also bought some new treads for the top stairs and had my brother-in-law cut them since I don’t have a table saw.  Once they were all stained I encountered problem number 3.  The bottom 5 boards were not a pretty oak (probably pine) and didn’t stain as nice as the new treads. 
My husband and I decided to purchase new treads for the bottom 5 steps . . . . and while we’re at it, we also purchased new handrails, and wrought iron balusters.  We’re currently waiting for them to come in.  I’ll keep you posted and share pictures once I get them picked up, stained, and installed.

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