In my last post we began the process of transforming the stairs in my parent’s foyer. Here’s how they looked when we started.
The Before: Old carpet that looked beautiful once upon a time!
Our plan is to transform our stairs to look like these!
These represent the basic vision for the look we’re trying to achieve! Gorgeous right?
When we left off last week we had begun the sanding process. We used 60 grit sandpaper to remove the paint and dings in the stairs and then repeated the entire process using a 150 grit sandpaper for a finer smoother finish. We also planned to use luan to cover the risers to save on sanding.
Here’s what it looked like when we finished last week.
This past week we continued the process by staining the treads, painting and placing the risers, and painting the casing on either side of the stairs. Here’s what they look like as of now.
We are so happy with how they’re coming along especially because they’ve been so much work!
Here are the steps we took:
After sanding we taped out all the steps to prep them for staining.
You can see how smooth the tread is in the pic.
Once all the taping was done, we needed to prep the wood for staining. Since these are builder grade pine treads we used a pre-stain wood conditioner. This extra step helped the wood accept the stain and would give it a more even distribution. Pine is known to be blotchy and this was something we were trying to avoid.
The most important thing to note here is that we used a water based pre-stain wood conditioner because we are using water based stain and polyurethane. The most important thing is to be consistent with conditioners, stains, and polyurethanes as oil and water do NOT mix!
Once the wood conditioner was applied (we wiped it on with a rag and followed the suggested timelines on the can), we waited for a half hour and then began the staining process.
We chose Varathane’s American Walnut and applied two coats to get the look we wanted. Also, a great tip here is to know that all Varathane stains are water based. We chose a water-based process because the drying times are MUCH faster than oil based stains and we didn’t want to inconvenience my parents any longer than absolutely necessary.
Here’s the staining process:
This is with the wood stained before we applied any polyurethane. We didn’t have to be careful with the risers because we knew we were going to cover them with painted strips of luan. It looks pretty sloppy, but not for long!
Once the stain was dry, we put on 6 coats of poly. With this water based poly we did not sand in between coats. We put the coats on very thin and didn’t get any bubbling.
Here you can see the stairs with the coats of poly applied. Love the sheen!
Once it dried (2 to 4 hours of drying time between each coat), it was time to attach the painted white luan strips to the risers. Because the staircase is older and not square, all of the measurements for each riser were slightly different. To save time, Wendy pre-measured each riser and cut the luan strips to the appropriate size. Then she labeled the luan strips to the corresponding riser. This saved us A LOT of time. Now you can really start to see the transformation take place!
Applying the luan riser covers was very simple. We used wood glue and trim nails. Making sure to butt the luan up to the very top of the step. Then we used trim to cover the gap at the base of each riser.
About half way done here.
Wood glue applied.
Trim nails in, riser covers on!
Here’s the trim placed at the base of every riser.
Finally, risers on! We used the same paint on both sides of the casing that we used on the risers, and here is where we stopped. All that’s left is the finishing touches like caulking the gaps, nail hole filling the trim nails and any touch ups! The stairs are just about complete! Woohoo!
Remember the before?
Now check out the after!
This was a total transformation. The next major portion of the project is one we’re leaving to the pros. The railing removal and new railing and flooring install will be done by one of our contractors! This definitely feels like progress!
Let us know what you think. We’re pretty happy because the stairs were a huge project and this was our first time tackling them! We’d love to hear from you!