Ever have those projects that just seem to spiral out of control in the very best way? That’s what happened with our stairs.
I had planned a week of simple, one-day updates to do around our house, and I was starting Monday off with a little banister makeover painting our stained wood banister black.
But then something happened.
I decided to peek under the carpet on our stairs just to see what we were working with. I had planned on doing a total stair overhaul in the next few months anyways. It would be smart to see so I could have an idea moving forward, right?
But guess what I found…
Hardwood treads that were in great shape.
And guess what I did later that afternoon.
STAIR MAKEOVER – HOW WE TRANSFORMED OUR STAIRCASE FOR $135
So here’s the thing. I love to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to projects. I have so much fun diving in headfirst and figuring it all out as I go!
I knew once I saw treads that were in good condition that this just became a very low budget project for us, so I quickly weighed the pros and cons and jumped in!
Of course this might be different if you need to totally replace your treads, risers, or both! I suggest peeling back a corner of your carpet and checking out what you have going on. Then make a game plan before you rip it all up! That way if you have to price and order treads, etc., you don’t have to wait on things to come in while in full on demo mode.
Thankfully, everything under our carpet was salvageable, so I moved forward right away!
STEP 1: SEE WHAT YOU’RE WORKING WITH & GATHER YOUR MATERIALS
Again, double check what exactly you need, especially if you need to replace anything! Then make your list of materials and grab what you need ahead of time!
Here’s what I used…
- Sanded Plywood
- Quarter Round Trim
- Stair nosing
- Plastic Wood
- Paint (Railing: Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams, Floors/Trim/Risers: Pure White by Sherwin Williams, Treads: Gatherings by Magnolia, Built-Ins: Early Riser by Magnolia)
- Clear Matte Polyurethane
And here are the tools I used…
- HART Tools Miter Saw
- HART Jig Saw
- HART Orbital Sander
- HART Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Wooster Paint Brushes
- Wooster Paint Rollers
- Finish nailer
STEP 2: RIP OUT THAT CARPET
See ya, carpet!
Grab your pliers, crowbar, and mallet, and start by pulling up the carpet in one section at a time.
Then spend some time removing the tacks, nails, and staples from each step before moving on to the next. Trust me, this way you aren’t stuck with a bunch to remove at the end while trying to avoid stepping on anything!
I used gloved hands to pull up the carpet. Then I used my pliers to get all the staples out of each tread. For the tack strips, I used a mallet and crowbar to slowly pry each one up! It wasn’t difficult to do – it just took a little time!
STEP 3: WOOD FILL & SAND DOWN THE TREADS
Once everything was out of the treads, it was time to sand them down! Before I sanded them, I went through and wood filled any knots, splits, and nail holes I could find with plastic wood and allowed them to dry completely.
Once I started sanding, I was shocked at the difference this step made! Our treads looked so much better after I took my orbital sander to them, and it really only took me about 30 minutes.
Here’s what they looked like before…
And here’s what they looked like after!
STEP 4: REFACE THE RISERS
If your stairs are like mine, your treads might have been in good condition, but your risers may be another story. I found my risers to be really rough with lots of splits and holes. I could have salvaged them, but it would have taken a lot of work!
Instead, I grabbed a sheet of sanded plywood and cut it down to the size of my risers. Then I used my finish nailer to install the plywood over the existing risers!
They were like new! And it took me way less time in the end.
STEP 5: PRIME & CAULK
Now it was time to prime everything! You always want to prime raw wood to seal it and get it ready for paint. I primed all my treads and risers.
Then, I caulked around all the edges to allow everything to look nice and finished!
STEP 6: PAINT!
Once the primer was dry, it was time to paint! I used Pure White by Sherwin Williams to paint my trim and risers. And I used Gatherings by Magnolia to paint the treads! I used 2 coats for each and simply hand brushed and rolled them! Easy enough!
STEP 7: SEAL THOSE STEPS
I didn’t use floor paint for my treads, so I needed to make sure to seal them well! I used a polyurethane in a matte finish and applied 2 total coats. I loved how they looked, but the were a little slippery – beware!
I sanded down the poly a little bit to add some traction, but if you’re concerned about slipping, look for a slip grip additive or check out these anti-slip products that can be used on floors!
STEP 8: STEP BACK AND ADMIRE THOSE STEPS!
Honestly this project really wasn’t too difficult! It was just a lot of work. And I would 100% do it again in a heartbeat!
BONUS STEP: BEADBOARD LANDING
This is totally a bonus step because every staircase is different! We had a large landing between 2 half flights of stairs which was also carpeted.
I needed to come up with a solution for it once the carpet was off, but wanted to keep costs at a minimum. Therefore, we decided to use beadboard!
I simply cut it to size, installed it on top of the subfloor on our landing, and used quarter-round trim around all the edges for a nice, clean finish! I caulked where the boards met then painted and sealed them!
I then used some stair nosing (linked in the supply list above) to cover the beadboard edge at the top of the first half flight of stairs. I simply found nosing that fit our existing tread shape perfectly, cut it down, secured it into place, and painted it to match the treads!
And that was it!
I have to say, for something so unconventional, I absolutely love the look! I don’t know how well it’ll hold up over time or how hard it will be to keep clean, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
And that’s it! Any questions? Drop them in the comments below!