Feb 21 2011

Poly and primer

Who wants to see some gorgeous wood on our refinished stairs?

You can see at the very top of the last photo that after the last coat of poly was dry, Kelly started covering the stairs over with paper, so that when we paint the risers, we won’t have to deal with cleaning up drips of paint. It started to hurt his back and knees, so he only got about halfway up the stairs.

But that was enough for me to start priming the risers and the trim.

This whole process of finishing the stairs is going to take a while, as it includes spackling, sanding, caulking, priming, painting, cutting quarter-round and installing it, painting some more…

But you can already tell the difference it is going to make:

Feb 18 2011

Time for some stain!

While my parents were here in town, they wanted to help with the stair project. My dad helped to pull up some carpet during the first phase and then he waited for a few weeks while Kelly worked on the sanding part, which as I mentioned, took a lot longer than we had anticipated.

The plan was that my dad would come over in the morning after we had all gone to work and stain his way down the stairs and let it dry before we got back home from work. We had bought a water-based stain so that it would dry more quickly, and it really did! I was home from work one of the days he applied the stain, and it was dry by the early afternoon. And since I was home, I was able to get some pictures of my dad in action, working on the stairs.

One of the things we had been worried about was that the raw wood had some areas that were darker and some that were lighter, after sanding away the lacquer stripe. And even after the first coat of stain went down, you could still see some lighter areas:

But we shouldn’t have worried – after the 2nd coat of stain, the color was perfectly even and dark and gorgeous!

(yes, there are more posts coming! Next up: adding the poly…)

Feb 15 2011

Sanding the stairs

Sanding the stairs took a lot longer than Kelly had been expecting, because of that stripe of varnish running down the center of the stairs, that had been under a runner at some point in the past.

It's like some kind of skunk staircase

Kelly started in on the sanding a few weeks back, but quickly discovered that the varnish was gumming up the sandpaper pads for the circular sander he had rented. The smaller palm sander that he owns worked better, but using the smaller sander was taking forever.

After a number of hours and many more sandpaper pads, Kelly took the advice of one of his coworkers and used a lacquer thinner to help strip off some of the thick lacquer so that the sanding could go quicker. And it did!

So here are a few pictures of the gorgeous raw wood.

And get this! The treads going around the corner are one solid piece of wood!

Up next: staining the wood…

Feb 14 2011

What was underneath the carpet

We began the process of ripping up the carpet on the stairs a few weeks ago, when my parents were in town. I was so glad to see that nasty carpet go.

And we were very happy to find good wood underneath all that carpet! We also uncovered evidence that the stairs had previously looked like what we want to do with them: stained treads, white painted risers.

However, there had also been a runner on the stairs, which meant that there was a thick stripe of lacquer on the treads, which made the sanding process a lot longer than we had wanted.

The top of the staircase, which just makes me want to continue ripping up carpet in the upstairs hallway...

More about the sanding process in the next post!

Feb 12 2011

The Stairs – Before

We have already done quite a lot of work on the staircase refinishing project, including ripping up carpet, sanding and putting down two coats of stain. But before I blog about the process, I need to show you what we were working with in the first place.

Here are the bottom steps of the staircase, which are in the hallway off of the living room. Check out the cool bench seat! It currently holds a bunch of crap that we have thrown in there in tidying up before people come over to the house…


The paint is all peeling off, the carpet was horribly dirty and stained and generally, the stairs were just unappealing.


We have already replaced the faded red curtains that came with the house, painted a red accent wall next to the bench seat, hung some pictures and a coat rack and replaced the landing lighting. At this point, I thought we needed to catch the rest of the landing and staircase up with the other things we’ve done.

Because frankly, this staircase is horrible and needs major work:


So, here is the plan. The staircase treads we will refinish in a nice walnut color, and we will paint the risers white. Sort of like this:

Picture from Apartment Therapy

We are also planning on painting the rest of the walls a light gray color, and keeping the trim the same bright white as the risers. Kelly and I are still debating on whether to paint the trim detail on the banister around the bench seat with that same gray with white trim detail. I’m for it, Kelly isn’t sold yet. We’ll let you know how it goes…