Tackling the Stairs: Part 1
One $25 Investment Saves Us 5 Days of Work!
The next big milestone in my mom and dad’s three room project was getting the floors laid down…or so we thought. After talking to a contractor (we are hiring out floor and banister install), we found out that the stairs need to be done first.
There are 14 stairs total. Paying someone to complete the stairs for $150 per stair (labor only) would blow the budget at $2100, so that was a no-go. However, after some research, I did find that there are some other cheaper alternatives. The manufacturer Stairtek makes a stair retread kit sold at your local big box store for about $50 per stair but even the $700 is more than we wanted to invest.
We plan to spend about $70 total on stain, luan, sandpaper, caulk, and tape. Although we are still in the middle of this project, I will tell you where we are and how we’ll attack it and get it done.
First, the vision! When it came to the stairs, this is one area where my mom was sure about what she wanted.
I also love the look of the white risers with stained treads and a wood and wrought iron banister! Our plan is to make it a reality! The photo is from VIP Services 4 U .
I will say that so far, its been a lot of work. The removal of the carpet, padding, and staples took a full day by itself, particularly because there were a lot of these little staples (their own personal brand of torture) on both the treads and the risers on every… single… stair.
We used needle-nose pliers and a mini flathead screwdriver to remove the staples which was pretty tedious. If you decide to try this consider yourself warned!
Once all the padding and staples were removed we could move onto sanding.
As you can see from the pic, even with the padding and staples removed there is still a long way to go.
Even after doing just a little bit of sanding, I knew I needed something save time and preserve my sanity!
So I came up with the idea of using luan (loo-wan) to cover all the stair risers. YES!!!!
Luan is very thin and flexible plywood generally used as an underlayment for flooring, but its fantastic for projects where you want a lightweight stainable or paintable material on the cheap (it costs just under $12 for a 4 ft x 8ft sheet).
Pics: Luan is dark stained wood on the wall.
It’s also the 4 whitewashed panels behind the bed.
Our plan? Buy 2 full sheets of luan, measure each stair riser, cut the luan to size, paint, and attach with wood glue and finish nails. After estimating the hours involved with sanding, painting, taping, and the lack of using the stairs due to drying time, this plan is going to save us about 5 days.
Even after some sanding, you can still see all the paint, dings, and holes on the risers.
Here’s a piece of luan cut to the size of a riser.
Here you can see the concept in action.
See how all the problem areas instantly disappear? The luan gives us a smooth surface ready to paint!
With all the riser pieces cut, we’re ready for paint, we just have to refinish the treads! We used several passes of 60 grit sandpaper to remove the dirt and paint, the picture above is where we are now!
Next up, filling all the holes and dings with wood filler, and sanding again with 120 grit sandpaper which has a finer grit and will give us a smoother finish. We’ll also start painting our risers. Then we’ll be ready for staining and sealing….and finally getting those floors in!
Do you have pointers to share when it comes to refinishing stairs? Please comment below!
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