About a month ago, I was sitting on our couch staring at our terrible stairs. I hated those stairs. I hated the smelly carpet that was impossible to keep clean with three dogs. I hated the golden oak banister. And most of all, I hated the fact that I was just sitting there, staring at the stairs instead of doing anything about it.
So I called my friend Courtney who had just recently torn all the carpet off of her own stairs, and she verified what I already knew deep down in my heart of hearts: it can’t get any worse so JUST DO IT. RIDE OR DIE.
After I hung up with her I did what any normal person would do and I took a selfie with my stairs, as a farewell of sorts.
To be fair, I was really excited by the prospect of finally taking action against these stairs. I’d lived with them for over a year, and this eyesore was the first area of the house people saw when they came through the door. Let me give you a better idea of what I was dealing with:
Ok, I think this is a good place for me to mention that in no way do I think I have better taste than anyone out there who might be reading this blog. I don’t. I understand that there are lots of people who love golden oak and rock it in their house like nobody’s business, which is awesome. If we all had the same tastes and opinions, the world would be a pretty boring place. Please keep that in mind throughout the rest of this endeavor as I harp on how horrible my stairs are.
These stairs are horrible. I love the idea of carpet, but practicality wise, for my three dog home, it just doesn’t work. It has that doggy smell, they are so hard to vacuum and keep clean, and the overall look is just very country, which I am not.
That being said, I knew when I decided that I was taking the carpet off, I would have to have some sort of runner down the middle so the dogs didn’t slip, and also so the stairs didn’t get scratched all to hell from their nails. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I pulled up a little corner of the carpet to see what I would be working with underneath. I shrieked obnoxiously when I saw that there were pine treads in excellent condition under the carpet. That saved me hundreds of dollars in an instant (stair treads are insanely expensive).
So guys, I just went for it. I started ripping off the carpet like a mad woman and pulling staples with reckless abandon. I promised Matt it would be a “weekend project, tops” which was obviously a huge lie. I didn’t care. The carpet had to GO. It took me about two and a half hours to rip it all up and pull out all the staples. It was insanely satisfying. I used a crowbar, hammer, screwdriver, and needle-nose pliers. I kept an empty coffee tin handy for collecting all the staples.
Pulling it up from around the banister was really tough. I needed Matt’s help for that because by then my hands were riddled with blisters and also my arms felt like Jello.
I used my crowbar and hammer to pry up all the tack strips.
A little bit of elbow grease and I was left with some gloriously bare stairs.
The landing, unfortunately, was plywood, so I had to cover it up somehow.
I decided to use 1 x 8 knotty pine to keep it consistent with the treads. I used liquid nails and brad nails to attach it to the plywood sub-floor, and then trimmed it out with pine 1 x 2s.
I sunk the nails with a nail set and moved on to the arduous task of filling in all the staple and nail holes with wood filler. My favorite kind is the pink stuff by Elmer’s. It dries really quickly and white so you know when it’s ok to sand.
Here is where (one of) the lazy, corner cutting aspects of this project comes into play. I only filled the holes I knew wouldn’t be covered by the runner….because why go to all that extra trouble when you can half ass it like a pro? Speaking of asses…
Sorry, I had to.
I should also mention, at some point between fixing the landing and filling the nail holes, I removed the banister. I wanted to burn it in the fire but my buzzkill of a husband said no. UGH.
So this is where I’ll leave you. The stairs were looking pretty rough at this point, but I was feeling good! But also physically terrible!
Next up: staining and finishing, which was not without it’s fair share of hiccups. Click here for part two! Or, if you wanna skip ahead to some good old fashioned runner installation, click here for part three.