Monday, August 8, 2011

Stairway to Hell

There's a lady who's sure under the carpet is mold,
And she's painting a stairway in twenty eleven! 

(to the tune of Stairway to Heaven.. and it even rhymes..) 

Too much? Not funny?... ok, let's move forward..

As I discussed in the last blog, I took on several house projects at one time. The first was the lamps, the second is this dreaded staircase!! (The third is a sideboard table, but I only started a small part of it, so it is on hold for the time being). ANYWAYS, back to the dreaded staircase. Why did I decide to take the carpet up? Disgusting stains that wouldn't ever come out. GROSS GROSS GROSS. I have been reading DIY blogs (which prompted all these house updates) and I found some with people (aka girls) who had painted staircases, so I thought I could do it, and it would be a breeze...



entire staircase. gross. this is what happens when dogs "never go in the house". They make the staircase their litter box.  

I taped up this sheet to protect the TV and TV stand. It promptly fell. 

Onto pulling up the carpet! I took off a Friday from work thinking I would be able to finish the entire project in three days.. HOW NAIVE!! 

I just grabbed the edge of the carpet at the bottom stair and pulled up. Underneath was this:

The carpet pad and the DREADED TACK STRIPS!!! Let me tell you, in the blogs I read, NONE of them mentioned the stupid tack strips.. THEY WERE A PAIN IN THE PATOOT. And look at that pretty wood!!!!! Who would want to cover that up?!?! 

(i can't figure out how to turn the dumb pictures)

All of the dumb tack strips..

Up close! If you look, you can see the red carpet bits that were underneath the white carpet. 

This is what happened when I tried to remove them. I felt like I was an archaeologist, chiseling for bones. I would stick a flat head screwdriver under the strip, and hit it with a mallet to pull them up. About 95% of them broke in half like this.

Halfway done with the chiseling of the tack strips! 

 There were some interesting things under the carpet..

A CIGARETTE BUTT!!! GROSS! I also found a flat razor blade.. EEK! 

After I got all the tack strips up, I had to remove the staples. The white carpet was stapled along the sides, but there were also staples from the red carpet that was there previously. The "white carpet staples" were easy to slide the screwdriver under and super easy to lift out. The "red carpet staples" looked like they were from the 1800s. They were super skinny and LONG, so extra hard to get out. Back to chiseling..

It took several days to get all of these out. I would put the edge of the screwdriver under the staple, then hit it with a hammer to shove it underneath it. Then I would shimmy the screwdriver back and forth until it went all the way under, and then I would lift it out. This worked until I had about 10 left..

Then the end of my screwdriver popped off. AWESOME! 

After a day or so I got my hands on another small screwdriver. Here are pictures of the chiseling process. 

Look how long that sucker is! 

After the staples were all pulled out, I had to clean the stairs.

See the difference between the two stairs above? WOOF. 

Then I taped the stairs off. 

That took a while, going around the rounded lip of the stair.

I ended up taking wood filler and put it onto the staple holes with a putty knife. It really helped. I could definitely tell where I missed when I was painting. 

Here's a close up of the red carpet pieces that were under the carpet. 

I was going to leave the top flap of carpet (because I didn't want to deal with frayed carpet) so I just pulled up this top part so the entire top step could be painted. Then I would nail the carpet back down once it's dry.

(why is this picture turned, but not the rest...?)

Of course it ended up fraying on the side. Oh well, it'll be covered once the carpet is put back down.

It's probably into about the second week of the project by now.. Not gonna lie, I took off some days.. DON'T JUDGE!


I think it already looks better with just the primer! 

With the flash... so shiny! 

All finished with the first layer of primer! 

In the middle of my project,  my sissy came to visit, and she brought my niece-y pup, Possum.

Pup pups hanging out. 

With the extra fur ball, I had to wipe off the stairs between every paint application. I decided to add another layer of primer. 

Lookin good! 

oh nuts..

This is what happens when there is extra stairwell usage. Apparently primer sucks up dirt, so it won't be as bad once the paint goes on.


Here it is with the white paint added on the sides. You can kind of see the primer "stripe" up the middle.

I can't believe I'm showing this, but here is the "work station" I have at the bottom of the stairs. I've got the paint bucket, the paper towels to wipe off every stair as I go, and the trash bag. I also built a "wall" with the chair and vacuum to keep the pups off of the wet paint. 

Next is framing off the "runner" of navy. 

Here are the tools I used to measure. Some of the blogs had fancy lasers that went around corners, but not this cheap skate.. I just used my 45 degree triangle, a ruler, and a pencil to line up the tape. I measured 5 inches from the wall.

One side finished! Here's a close up of how I did it from the railing side. 

I decided to measure 5 inches from the actual railing (rather than the wall at the top or the post at the bottom). I would make a dot by 5 inches.

Then I would place my triangle against the step and line it up with the dot. I would make a mark where the riser and runner met, and then begin the tape. I actually didn't tear the tape. I started in this spot and went all the way down.

After the tape came down the runner, I would take my ruler and poke it in the crack (HA!). This was to make sure no paint went under the tape that wasn't all the way pressed in. If that doesn't make sense, you'll see what I mean shortly.

Both sides finished! Time to paint the blue runner stripe! 

AHHHH glorious! It looked a little bit more like a denim color, and not the navy I had wanted. BUT I think the blue of the tape skewed the color I was seeing. There's my trusty paint brush. I used it for the primer and white paint. The regular size rollers were too big for the stairs.

It looks a little streaky. OK, A LOT STREAKY. I decided to put my brush away and go buy a mini roller. (BTW the lighting of every picture changes due to the time of day the picture was taken.. haha)

Mini roller and paint tray! The guy at Home Depot also suggested to get the foam brushes for the edges where the roller won't reach, because it doesn't leave any bristles behind.

In this picture, you can see how the top steps have been rolled, so the streaks are gone, whereas the bottom two have not been painted yet. 


Full shot of the staircase. The tape on the right is still on for the polyurethane layer. Looks good right?? 

WRONG!!! WTH PAINT TAPE?!?!?! It pulled off the flipping white paint!!!!!!!!! And can you see where it went under the crevice? (It's just a little bit on this one, but other steps were not so lucky.. apparently I didn't press the ruler down enough on some of the steps).


So I got the white paint back out, and I went along the edges very carefully with the small sponge brush.

Much better, eh?!?! 

Next comes the polyurethane! For a nice shiny, protective coat!!!

How luxurious! I put it on with the big sponge brush, so no bristles would get stuck. See my trusty towels and cleaner? I battled dog hair every step of the way! (GET IT?!?! EVERY STEP?!?!?)

After the polyurethane!! I LOVE IT!!!!! 

Here is a straight on view! Once it dried overnight, I removed the tape on the right side. I even spent the night on the couch so as not to disturb the drying process! 


Then the next day........

The tape is removed!!!! TA DAAAAAA!!! Although there was a bit of a let down..


THANKS A LOT PAINTER'S TAPE!!!!! I guess painter's tape means the tape takes off what the painter has done.. I'm going to have to touch up the wall paint.  

And this.. look closely...

There is a Rachel hair permanently preserved in the polyurethane. 


Along with several Cotton, Diesel, and Possum hairs. 

BUT, you don't really notice unless you're sitting on the stairs... which is what I've been doing for the past three weeks. Another downside: the polyurethane is not completely clear, so the crevices are tinged a beige-ish color. DAMNATION! 


Let's recap:

Before. WOOF.


(I chose the picture with the tape still on because the lighting was better). 

I can't wait to take a break on house projects!! 

Oh wait.. Just kidding.. as soon as I decide on a color for the sideboard table, I'll be sanding and painting once again! 


{that has nothing to do with with this post, I just wanted yall to know}


  1. OH MY GOSH!!! This looks so amazing! You did such an awesome job! You go girl!!

  2. Wow, great job & it looks really awesome! I really need to do this to my basement steps. This looks like a huge job & I am happy for you that it is over & you get to enjoy it now!

  3. Saw your stairs at Addicted 2 Decorating. I adore painted stairs and yours are no exception. What a tough job though. I guess you couldn't really give up after you'd ripped up the carpet. Phew. It would have been tempting, though!

  4. Here from Creative Bloggers Party and Hop @ Homemaker on a Dime, and your newest GFC follower. Fab job on the stairs! I painted some stairs this summer, so I truly appreciate the work you put in!

    Carrie @

  5. Thanks Carrie! It was quite a large project to take on!

  6. Those stairs look amazing! What a project!

    I have become a follower of your blog and awarded you the Liebster blog award!

  7. Just found this, as I've added "painted staircase" to my list of projects.... and I love your version! Aside from the before and after, I love the way you write... and also that you seem to have the same DIY luck that I do with my Project Jumanji :)
    ( in case you're interested)

  8. I have a has this held up the last couple of years?

    1. Hey Pam! It's held up very well. There are a couple of scratched off places on the edge of the steps, but I attribute that to the fact that we had a big bathroom renovation, so construction workers were dragging a tub, tiles, and tools up and down without being careful. Hope that helps!