HELLO PARTY PEOPLE! The stair saga continues: this week I’m explaining how I did a terrible job installing a runner and a BANG UP job of trimming out the stairs. Let’s begin!
To recap, I had already ripped off the carpet, removed the tack strips and staples, filled all the holes, sanded myself into an oblivion, cleaned my dust filled house from top to bottom, stained and clear coated the treads, and painted the risers white.
It was a lot of work and I still had a long way to go, but I was certain the hard part was behind me. I was a fool.
Because I am incredibly impatient and unable to take my time with anything I do, I thought it was a good idea to start on installing the runner at 8pm on a Wednesday night. WTF is wrong with me? That was a terrible idea and it took wayyyy longer than I had anticipated (I think I was completely finished at around 11:30ish?) so when my alarm went off the next morning at the ungodly hour of 4:45am I was even more extra pissed than usual.
I’d purchased a 30ft length of indoor/outdoor industrial low pile carpet from Happy Harry’s (a discount building supply store here in the Martimes) for less than $2.99 a linear foot because I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a runner that would get trashed by dog feet. This was the perfect solution, and it also worked out well because the neutral slate gray fits in nicely with the rest of the decor. I realize it looks like shit hanging on the roll in this picture, but bear with me.
In terms of actually installing the runner, I’m not sure I did it correctly. In fact I am pretty sure I didn’t. A few weeks before starting the stairs I recall reading some guides on how to properly install a runner and thinking “I’ll have to remember this” but I did not remember anything.
The first thing I did was make myself some guide lines out of masking tape to ensure the runner stayed straight as it went down the stairs. I measured both the width of the stairwell and width of the runner then subtracted the latter from the former. I then divided that number by two to figure out how much space should be on either side in order to keep the runner centered. I think it was just under eight inches on each side, give or take (not like you care but still). Rather than having to jig around with the measuring tape on every stair, I cut a piece of bristol board to the proper length and just used that as a guide, and had a speed square handy to keep the tape lines straight.
Once I had my masking tape lines situated, I busted out the pneumatic nailer and loaded it up with 1/2″ 18 gauge narrow crown staples.
I started at the top, securing the end of the roll up under the lip of the top stair. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a ton of process pictures because I oftentimes had both hands full.
Truth time: it was really effing hard to maneuver that big ass roll of carpet and get it tight up under each tread nose. I sucked and it definitely is not as “taut” as I would like, but it couldn’t be helped. The carpet was not as pliable as I thought it would be, so pulling it nice and tight with one hand and stapling with the other was brutal, especially since the nailer is so heavy. I did not staple the sides of the runner onto the treads because I didn’t want the staples to show, even though the carpet wasn’t laying as flat as I wanted. (This was about three weeks ago and it has since flattened down quite a bit.)
When I got to the bottom landing, I ended it there and jaggedly cut off the excess with my utility knife. I didn’t take much care at this point because I knew I would be covering it up with the baseboard.
So if I am being totally honest with you all, the runner would probs look a lot better had it been installed by a professional, or by someone who wasn’t just rushing to get it done. It works for our purposes and is really securely attached so I won’t complain too much, but if you’re thinking about doing a runner yourself, let me just say it’s not as easy as it looks. I wish I could say I had gotten into a groove by the end of it, but I definitely didn’t and I whined about it the entire time.
Once the runner was installed, the last couple of steps (no pun intended HAHA) involved replacing the baseboards around the landing, and trimming out the side of the stairs. (I also had to paint the stairwell and entryway, which was a horrifying experience that we will save for another post.)
I ended up using 2″ pre-primed MDF for the stair trim, because no need to get fancy up in here.
For the edge of the stairs I just did simple 45 degree mitered corners and attached the pieces with finishing nails.
Once I had all the edges trimmed out, I countersunk the nails with a nail set and filled the holes with wood fill. I also filled any gaps in the corners at this point (my angles were not 100 per cent perfect but keep it to yourself).
Once the filler was dry, I sanded everything smooth with 150 grit sandpaper and then gave the trim three coats of paint, the same shade of white (Polar Bear by Behr) I had painted the walls.
OK — almost done! To remind you all, this was the
nightmare situation we had to work with before I began my one-woman crusade over a month ago:
And this is where we now stand:
I’m hesitant to #humblebrag, but holy Toledo I think it’s a CRAZY HUGE improvement on the before. Although it was a TON of work, (with a lot of corner cutting thrown in for good measure) I think it was worth it.
I still need to touch up a ton of spots where the paint bled through onto the stairs (sonofa!) and also little things like caulking gaps, etc (probably NEVER going to do that to be honest) but I am really, really happy all things considered.
The last part of my stair makeover is to build the new banister, but Matt and I are both kinda loving the banister-less look. We don’t have any kids and there really isn’t a high drop anyways so…we’ll see. It’s not like you’d die if you fell off, amirite? The only problem with leaving it off is that I finished the stairs expecting to replace it. I didn’t take any care to fill the old gaps and marks from the original banister (you can see this in the picture above) because I assumed I would just be covering it up with a new one. So if I decide to leave it off I will have to go back in and fix that which feels REALLY daunting.
Let’s have a comment vote! Banister or no banister?!? Until next time my friends!