I hate the stairs in my house. Like nearly every bit of wood trim in the house, they were stained a very dark, very dated brown. It’s hard enough to bring natural light into our home, living at the bottom of a hill in the woods. When we first moved in, I attacked nearly every bit of dark brown trim with off white paint (Swiss coffee). As we’ve remodeled, all of the new trim starts out as this color. Doors are painted (campfire ash) before they are even hung. But now I am ready for a DIY stair remodel.
The way before
I wasted no time painting the side trim of the stairs, but everything looked dark and dingy. While the sellers were aiming to do some quick and cheap improvements, most of them were superficial and just looked awful. I figured a little paint certainly wouldn’t make it look worse.
For some strange reason, the upper half of the stairs had been poly’ed. I have no idea if that was new or old, but in addition to being ridiculously unsafe (duh) it made the lower stairs look particularly like garbage.
The semi improvement
Painting the risers and the handrail spindles certainly improved matters. Whenever anyone is looking for a nice, dramatic improvement, painting the risers and spindles always looks great. This served us well for 6 years.
My current mess
The cheap carpet that was put down right before we moved in. In the past 6 years it has quickly become matted, stained, and no longer truly cleanable. I am counting down the days to a new floor. Before we did that, I decided it was time to attack the treads on the stairs. If I couldn’t rip them out and replace them, I was going to do my best to make them look completely different.
The lower stairs were fairly easily stripped. I bought this varnish remover from Home Depot. This stuff is no joke, so be sure to wear gloves, glasses, and ventilate your space. It probably helped that there was no finish on top of the stain. The second set of stairs proved to be much more difficult and it is an on-going saga. I was able to successfully remove the poly, but not much of the stain. That will be the next “step” (haha) in the project. So stay tuned!