These stairs were seriously a labour of love. When we moved in, there was so much oak everywhere. And it was all ORANGE. Just. SO. Much. Orange. Oak. Everywhere… Baseboards, window trim, door trim, kitchen cupboards, and stairs.
We loved that the stairs were solid wood… but we didn’t like the orange hue. Also, our puppy love had both of her ACL’s replaced a few years ago to the tune of $8600 so we really wanted a carpet runner on the stairs so she wouldn’t slip and rack up more vet bills.
We went to a bunch of different carpet stores, and priced out various runners. I had seen one I really like (shocking – found it on Pinterest) but when I saw it in real life (such technical terminology) I was no longer in love. I adore the carpet we ended up choosing. Hubby ‘knows a guy’ he used to work with on the fire department who also happens to own a carpet/flooring store. He negotiated a great price for the carpet and we set a date! So exciting. I had mentioned to the sales clerk that I had previously refinished the stairs in my last house, and what a huge job it was.
Here is a pic of the stair rails that I refinished at our old house. Plus my fur baby, Lola.
Well… she asked why I wasn’t refinishing these stairs before the runner was to be installed. Well… she got my wheels turning, and I thought – why not? I knew it was going to be a huge job, but I didn’t realize just how big a job it would be. We tried to source it out to someone else, just for time and honestly I should have known when NO ONE else would do it I was taking on a monumental task. Start to finish I would say it took me about 3 months… But I also work full-time, so I didn’t get to work on it daily.
I used Heirloom Max heavy-duty stripper on the stairs to help bring the stairs and railings back down to bare wood. I put the gel stripper into a separate container and used a combo of different sized wire brushes and steel wool to scrub it up and off. This stuff is super corrosive, so I had an arsenal of heavy duty rubber gloves to wear with long sleeves to protect my arms and hands. Once I began removing the chemical, I also wore a mask over my nose and mouth.
After I had made my way down the entire set of stairs plus the railings with the gel, I went over it again with sandpaper to make sure the surface was smooth and ready for stain and paint. I taped off all the necessary parts, and started with the paint. I primed all of my spindles and the stair backs and sides, and then painted a bajillion coats of white trim paint. Well, maybe like three coats.
Anyway, once that was all dry I went on the hunt for just the right stain. We sampled a few different stain colours, and finally found the one. I stained the stair treads and the railings and banisters. This was also about 3 coats. Once dry, it got the clear coat. I gave that a few coats as well to ensure they were well protected. And somewhere and somehow in the middle of me doing the stairs, we had a painter come in to do the hallway, ceilings, and the hallways upstairs and leading down the stairs. Just a more modern colour on the walls made a ton of difference. We chose Benjamin Moore Stonington Grey for the walls both up and down.
We totally had to change the install date for the carpet like 3 times cause it took me FOREVER to finish the stairs. Maybe something to do with the fact that it was summer? We have a pool? Beers are delicious when you drink them cold? I dunno. So literally the final clear coat went on the day before the carpet was due for install. My masterpiece was BEAUTIFUL. So much time, effort, and work went into these stairs. So much, that I almost wanted to cancel the order and just look at my stairs all day every day for the rest of my life. But, my husband told me I was an idiot, and first thing the next morning the guy was here to install the runner. As soon as it started going down I knew we had made the right decision. It is beautiful. I love it. At the time I said I would never do stairs again… but now that we have painted the basement – the stairs down are just begging me to redo them too!
Seriously, there is oak trim as far as the eye can see! I know some people love it, and it is beautiful, if it is the right tone/shade. However, I wanted to lighten things up and incorporate more whites and greys for a more monochromatic and modern look. One day, my friends, those sweet blue tiles will go, and I will have something beautiful down. But that one day is still far away. Womp womp.