Staircase Redux

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In true joyosphere fashion, we’ve completely switched gears. Again. Switched gears as in got distracted and decided to start a new project leaving our little organization mission by the wayside (but not for too long!) Oops! How’s that for DIY ADHD?

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What’s the new project you ask? Well if you follow us on Facebook, yesterday you would have seen the picture above of our basement stairs. Yep, we’re going to go out on a limb today and talk about our stairs. Many, many moons ago we cleaned up our act basement, finishing the DryLok-ing the walls and painting the floor and beams and while we were more than happy with the results, it left our poor little stair case looking a little worse for wear. So with a fresh coat of snow on the ground, we figured it was about time to get on this little project and knock it out of the park!

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First of all, I needed to clean up our stairs to see exactly what we were working with. Since the house is a new build the basement wasn’t exactly cleaned up when Josh moved in and the staircase was no exception. It was still covered in dust, dirt, dried mud (from the ground and from the dry walling process!), and plenty of stray nails stuck out in strange places. We were initially thinking that we would have to bust out our sander and sand all the treads down before we could do anything to them. I really didn’t want to try that because I thought it would just make a gigantic mess of dust that would be even more of a pain to clean up. So instead I busted out our lovely Shark Navigator Vacuum and swept off the dusty, dingy steps. Now, I chose to use our Shark instead of our Shop Vac because we have a Hepa filter on the Shark. If I wanted to clean up that mess once and for all, I wanted to do it with a vacuum that wouldn’t blow back all of that dust and debris back out into the house. I was pretty impressed with the results so I kept chugging a long with my master plan.

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After vacuuming up the dust from the stairs, it was clean, but not my kind of clean. I wanted to really deep clean those stairs. Since the risers and treads are completely unfinished it really limited what I could do to. So I turned to my trusty warm water and vinegar concoction (1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon warm water) that I usually use to clean up old musty furniture. It worked like a charm! It just took a little elbow grease and some patience, but it definitely worked it’s magic and I fell in love with those gorgeous stairs!

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I let the stairs dry out completely before I started my next step: wood filler. We used Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler Max from Home Depot and have always had really good results with it so it was an easy choice to make. Using a putty knife (and maybe sometimes my fingers…) I applied it to all the screw and nail holes as well as the deep knots in the treads and risers. We had one knot that went completely through the wood and you could see into the basement from it… definitely not something I wanted to show off with some freshly re-done stairs, so I filled it in. The smaller holes I waited 30 minutes to dry before sanding by hand with a sanding block and for the larger holes from the knots, I waited several hours for those to dry before sanding (I actually went back and added a second filling to some of the deepest knots).

DSC_0461We also had a few nails that hadn’t been nailed in completely- which I’m glad I found now, and not when someone stepped on them, tripped over them, or stubbed a toe on them! So I grabbed my trusty hammer and nailed those bad boys in!

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But now that all the cleaning and repair work had been done, a design decision had to be made: how would we finish the stairs? Paint? Stain? It was up in the air as to what we should do because our landing is made of chip board and isn’t the prettiest thing in the world to look at, as well as the top of the stairs. We couldn’t place wood on top of the chip board because it would change the height of some of the treads which is against code in our neck of the woods (eventually we’ll have to just carpet the stairs to solve this problem, but we needed a more immediate solution than going and buying carpet…). So where did I go to find some inspiration? Pinterest of course! As I waited for the wood filler to dry I perused Pinterest for some inspiration…

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(click picture for source)

And I was sold. There were plenty of inspiration pictures for painted stair runners, but I’m not that kind of gal. The white risers with painted treads to me, is such a classic look and that’s what I wanted to go with for these stairs. Now, I totally would have loved to do the mint green treads, but that would be like green overload in our house so I had to turn it down a notch and decided to go with the same color as the basement floor. Just to keep things simple. Now all I had to do was put that plan into action…

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First things first, I needed to tape everything off. Taping isn’t my favorite part of a project, but I know that it’s necessary to do. It’s time consuming. And I have no patience. But enough bellyaching. I taped off the stairs according to my plan. I would paint the risers and stringers first and come back and paint the treads after I finished the risers.

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Using primer that was leftover from when the house was built, I primed almost all the risers as some of the wood filler was still drying. It was lovely, I was able to paint over a lot of the scratches and dents in the wood, and even some of the workers notes from when they built the house…

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It’s amazing how much a little primer can change the look of a room staircase! It’s a little change that’s still in progress, but so far we love it. It’s also inspired us to paint the whole area, which is why we haven’t painted the treads yet, for fear of spilling primer on them before it’s their time! The walls of the stair case are being primed for paint as you are reading this! So sadly, you’ll have to stay tuned in until Tuesday for the reveal. I’m totally just giving you guys a teaser today! It’s just so exciting, and a good break from all the organizing we’ve been doing as of late. And the stairs have needed a bit of a makeover. For a while.

I’m glad that YHL got our butts in gear with this post about putting time and energy into “temporary” projects while the “Big-Kahuna-of-projects” are being planned just to make living with them a bit more enjoyable. Because this is definitely why we decided to tackle the stairs, and why we put so much effort into painting our whole basement in the first place. We definitely agree with this philosophy.

So, while we are priming and painting away over the next several days (ahh the memories that come flooding back from the days we spent painting the whole house..!) what have you super stellar diy’ers been up to lately? Has something you read given you a kick in the pants to get something accomplished lately? We would love to hear about it! Fill us in!

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