Monday, November 10, 2014

Refinished Staircase Reveal

We have one staircase in our home, and it sits right off of our living room. It was overlooked and neglected, with torn and stained carpet that I rarely had the patience to vacuum (and with three dogs in the house, it desperately needed a regular steam clean). I longed for a beautiful wooden staircase that would boost our home's resale value and be the finishing touch to our living room. Redoing the staircase has been on my to-do list since the first day we moved into the house. Only problem was, I suspected that it was made out of MDF and plywood, and if that was the case, it'd need a massive overhaul. So, I put it off, but I always had this vision of exactly what I wanted it to look like one day.

Shortly after we moved into the house, three years ago, we painted our stairwell in Olympic's Kaleidoscope blue in a satin finish.

Two years ago, I installed board and batten on both sides of the staircase and along the wall that extends through our living room. To do so, I followed the same steps that I did for every other room in our house (tutorial may be found in my original post here), but cut the lattices at a 45 degree angle so that the board and batten could climb up our stairs. Installing board and batten is so simple, inexpensive, and can be done in an afternoon -- and I think it was the perfect foundation to our eventual staircase remodel.

Then, a month ago, I pulled up a part of the carpet and confirmed that what existed beneath was particleboard. When I was about to admit defeat, Evan looked at me and said, "Go for it." So I did -- and here's exactly how.

First, I ripped up all of the carpet and subsequent carpet padding from the staircase.  Each stair had three carpet tack strips, which I pried up using a screwdriver.  

Wear thick gloves and protective glasses as you do this.  I also recommend keeping a bucket nearby to house all of the discarded tack strips instead of garbage bags.

The next step is to pull up all of the nails and staples from the stairs.  There are going to be a million of these.  Take your time and use heavy-duty Channellock pliers to avoid giving yourself too many blisters.

Once finished, vacuum the staircase really well.

I wanted to really make this staircase special.  Instead of doing plain risers on the backs of each step, I decided to install beadboard to create some interest.  The particular beadboard I chose was a primed MDF, which is cheaper and easier to work with.

I measured each riser and translated it onto the beadboard sheets.  I found that each stair was a different size, so it was important to take my time and measure carefully. Then, I cut out the beadboard risers using a jigsaw.

To install the risers, I used an all-purpose construction adhesive and applied it liberally to the back of the beadboard.

Then, I pressed the beadboard against the back of each step to ensure a firm grip.

I used a brad nailer, 1 and 1/4" inch brad nails, and an air compressor to install the risers.

Once all of the risers were installed, I caulked all sides of the risers and the brad nail holes.  Painter's caulk works great with this project because it's flexible and paintable.

Once done, vacuum the staircase once again and let the caulk dry.  At this time, I also removed the two banisters to help prepare for paint.

I chose an ultra white paint in a semi-gloss finish for the beadboard and surrounding board and batten, to help brighten things up and improve the durability of the risers.  To speed things along, I used a paint sprayer to apply two coats of paint along the staircase.  

When painting beadboard, it's important to not let the paint drip because it becomes very noticeable.  After completing all of the risers, I recommend going across each one again with a few vertical strokes of a dry paintbrush.  

Since we had particleboard treads, I opted to use RetroTreads, which are pre-made with molding already attached.  These treads are a good $8-10 more expensive than regular treads, but I felt that they were well worth the price due to an easier installation.  All that's required is to cut down each tread to fit.

To do so, I measured one stair at a time since every one was a different size, and marked it as such on the tread.

Then, I cut each tread down to size using a miter saw.

To install each tread, I used the same all-purpose construction adhesive as before and applied it liberally to the underside of the wood.

Then, I placed the tread onto the stair and pressed down on it firmly to ensure a secure grip.

To finish the installation, I used my brad nailer, 1 and 1/4" brad nails, and an air compressor along the two sides and back of each tread.

It's coming together!

After all of the treads were installed, I vacuumed the staircase for a third time and then prepared it for stain.  I chose Rustoleum's Kona wood stain in a semi-gloss finish.  

I used a stain-grade brush to apply the stain, making sure that I followed the wood grain.  These treads took the stain very well.  If your treads don't take to the stain, simply wet the treads first using a damp cloth to open the grain.

I took my time staining the staircase, and opted to use a craft paint brush along the sides of the treads and on the details of the molding.  This helped ensure accurate application of the stain and eliminated the time-consuming task of taping each stair.


All that was left now was to finish the banisters.  Up until this point, I was able to complete this project entirely by myself.  These banisters, however, are heavy and require some muscle, so I recommend recruiting some help.  I bought a chunkier newell post, which I chose to paint the same ultra white as the beadboard so it'd pop.  Evan and I drilled holes into it so that we could install it into the kneewall.

From there, we used the appropriate rail bolts to secure the newell post directly into the kneewall.

I had installed a stone accent wall in our living room last year, so attaching the railing to the stone was something that I was nervous to do.  To remedy this, we decided to install a post cap directly into the stone.  To do this, we first drilled pilot holes through the cap and stone, and then followed up with 3" screws.  

For the banister itself, I wanted something completely new.  Instead of installing the same wooden balusters, I decided to replace them with new wrought iron balusters.  IronPro makes these iron baluster kits that help take the guesswork out of the process.

We used these kits to install the tops of the iron balusters into the existing railing.

From there, we installed the railing onto the newell post and cap.  Then, we measured and placed the bottom portions of the iron balusters directly onto the kneewall.

To finish the banister, we used a metal cutting sawblade on our miter saw to cut the iron baluster down to size.  I won't lie, this part was downright scary -- be prepared for a lot of sparks and protect yourself accordingly.

Installation's done!  I used wood putty to cover the holes for each of the rail bolts.  

From there, we re-installed the old banister back onto the wall.

There were only two steps left from here: stain the banisters and polyurethane the treads.  After the stain was dry, I chose to apply Rustoleum's polyurethane in a semi-gloss finish.  To ensure maximum durability in a house with three dogs, I applied two coats of polyurethane onto the treads and railings.

One month and many late weeknights and weekends later, we were officially done.  Remember the before?

Well, here's the after!

A few details:

I cannot believe the transformation of this staircase.  What used to be a dark, dingy stairwell with torn carpet and lackluster beige walls is now a bright and rich staircase fit for a model home.  

What I love most about it, though, is how doable this project is.  A staircase remodel can cost on the upward of $3,000 - $5,000 if done by a professional.  Yes, it was time-consuming, but at no point during this project did I feel like I was over my head.  If you are interested in refinishing your staircase, I highly recommend that you give it a try yourself.  You will be so proud of what you're able to accomplish.  

I absolutely love our staircase and hope you do, too!

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Get Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSerendipity and SpiceSew Can DoSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyDukes and DutchessesFunky Polka Dot GiraffeI'm Topsy TurvyMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee CraftsTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Adorned from Above, Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsHome Happy HomeIt's Just Called SpicyJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyLife with the Crust Cut OffThe NY Melrose FamilyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThe Style SistersThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFingerprints on the FridgeThe Grant LifeHappy-Go-LuckyIf It's Not BaroqueJust Us FourMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeNot Your Ordinary RecipesOne Artsy MamaThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's OverflowingIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: The Crafty CowgirlEmbellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things


  1. Wow, WOW! You did an amazing job, what a huge difference! I love it all, the stair, the banister, and the wrought iron balusters complementing the stone wall, beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much, Cristina! Really appreciate you stopping by!

  2. Your stairs turned out great! I like how you used beadboard on the fronts. I have been wanted to remove the carpet from our stairs for years. Seeing your makeover makes me want to do it even more. Very nice work!

  3. Wow!! These look great. I love the contrast.

  4. Wow! I am inspired to redo our staircase! Great job!

  5. What was your final cost for this gorgeous update?

  6. Can you please show us what you did at the very top of the stairs? I LOVE what you have done. I also have a carpeted stairway with particle board risers and treads. I want to remove all of the "70s SHAG" carpet and redo. I am going with laminate hardwood on the floor coming up to the staircase. I will need some sort of molding to transition between the laminate and the beadboard riser. How did you handle this? Thank you SO much for your very informative posts.

  7. Thank you so much for all the details! This is a fabulous makeover and gives me the inspiration I needed to re-do my stairs. Thankfully I don't have carpet, but I probably will need to do some sanding. Definitely pinning and adding to my "to do" list :)

  8. Your staircase makeover is did a wonderful job!

  9. It looks gorgeous..! Thanks for sharing

  10. My basement stairs are set up just like this. The before picture. We have wood trim like this. Now I know what I want to do with the basement. I am already working on remodeling our finished basement that was done in 1960. It is designed bad. The bar is too big etc, god help ya when you have to clear the corner to replace a washer and dryer the bars in the way. We've played hell with this basement. Goodbye wood paneling. I planned on doing a faux stone accent around our bar with an accent stone wall. (our house is stone). Now I see it would look great.

  11. We have a similar staircase and exactly what I would like to do. I am trying to get the hubby on board but he is concerned that it will be.slippery. Have you or your dogs had any problems?

    1. Thank you for asking, Jeanne! I have three dogs, and the two corgis haven't had any issues. Our rottweiler is a bit of a cannon ball, so she's fallen down the stairs twice (thankfully, she wasn't hurt). You get plenty of traction while barefoot, but we tend to take our time going up and down the stairs whenever we have socks on. Hope that helps!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.


Thank you for commenting on my post today! Your comment will surely put a smile on my face!

©2012 Blog design by Katelyn Brooke Designs