Heavenly Stairway: DIY Stair Makeover

We’ve got a whole lot going on in the next week. I’m a bridesmaid in one of my best friends’ wedding, and my oldest son is about to graduate from high school. I’m sewing and cooking and party-planning like crazy. I haven’t had time to do any real thrift store projects this week, so I decided to share a thrifty project we completed a while ago. It’s a good one, I think. Sorry for that cheesy title, but I can’t resist a Zeppelin reference.

When we moved into our (HUD) house, the carpet had been ripped out of the lower floor and the carpet upstairs needed to be replaced. Because we have dogs, kids, and me, we decided it would be best to forgo hardwood floors in favor of laminate for the entire house. It cleans up much easier and is less likely to be damaged by dog nails and thrift store projects. The stairs were a problem, however. We didn’t know how we were going to make them consistent with the rest of the house. My dad suggested molding the laminate flooring pieces to the shape of the stairs, but we thought that might work its way loose long-term. I asked my husband if we could just refinish them. Under some hideous carpet, they were made of sturdy wood.

My husband was up for the task. He yanked all the carpet from the stairs and removed all the nails and tacks. No easy feat. Then he filled the holes with wood putty. He sanded everything smooth. He bought a sander to make the job a little easier. That was the only expensive component of this project. We’ve used it for lots of other projects since then, so it was a good investment. After the sanding was complete, he began staining the stairs with the closest shade he could find to our laminate floors. Because we would still need to use the stairs during the project, he stained only every other stair. That way, we’d be able to climb the stain-free stairs. He used two coats of stain for each stair. After the stain was dry, he coated all the stairs in polyurethane for a durable finish. After all of the stain and polyurethane had cured, he painted the risers with high gloss white trim paint. Voila!

I’d estimate the cost of this project, even with the power sander, at $100 or less. It was labor-intensive, but it looks so perfect.  Three years later, the stain is still holding up great!


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