Finished Staircase!

October 22, 2010

Oooooooh happy Friday friends.  Guess what?  I finally finished our staircase!  Let me tell you, with two little monkeys running around, I was forced to take this on late at night after they had gone to bed.  So for the last ten days, yours truly has been up late sanding, staining, priming and painting, plus polyurethaning (is that a word?) in order to get our staircase to look like this.

Hello gorgeous!

cg wood staircase


Remember the before from last year?  The blonde oak banister and the carpet?  Last year, you’ll recall we redid the banister and primed and painted the oak base white as a first step.  This year, we finally have wood steps at last!

stairs before and after


Last week, I started experimenting with some stain just to see how dark I could get the blonde oak treads with different colors and qualities.  I had some leftover Walnut Gel Stain from a few previous projects.  Then my carpenter recommended Duraseal in ‘Antique Brown’, which is also made by Minwax and sold to the trade to contractors.  The Walnut stains were just not dark enough, and the ‘Ebony’ (far right) was too black.

two coats


I agreed with my carpenter’s recommendation and the Duraseal won.  It leans a hint mahogany but with two coats of poly on top, it was exactly what I wanted.

Before I could stain, I had to strip the paint off the curve on the bottom step.   Some Citrustrip (which I compared to old school chemical strippers here) did the trick!

citrusstrip on bottom

I also had to fill all the nail holes on the treads and risers then sand it down.  This little 3M detail sander, used with some coarse sandpaper, worked great!  No need to plug in my orbital, yes!

putty and sand


I used an old sock over a latex glove to apply the stain on every other step for the first coat, just so I could get up and down.  The second coat I did late at night, and I stained every step, so I just camped on the couch after staining the last one.

duraseal on steps one at a time

The Duraseal was thick and gooey, unlike watery stains, so it penetrated the blonde wood very well.  I got mega messy with my stain because I knew I would cover it up with primer and paint.

messy stain


After two coats of Duraseal, and two coats of polyurethane, I taped off the stained steps and covered up the messy residue with none other than Zinsser Cover Stain!  My fav.

cover stain


I touched up the paint on the walls, painted the risers, and then painted the picture frame molding too.

Ta dah!

cg foyer

True love.

I’m not a matchy matchy girl, so I have no problem with the blonde oak floors right now, but my secret plan is to stain them darker.

Want the full chapters on the staircase from beginning to end?  Chapter One: staining the banister; Chapter Two: ripping out the carpet and preparing the plywood; and Chapter Three: installing the risers and treads.  Today is the happy ending!

I have to thank my husband for his eternal patience with me and this project.  He liked the carpet and originally was hesitant to take this on.  The carpet was cozier and quieter, albeit dingier.  He tolerated my late nights sanding, painting, staining and polyurethaning each step and riser.  But this morning even Mr. CG said “Hey, these stairs look really good.”

So tonight is date night, and after he has a glass of wine, I’ll be saying with my most charming voice, “Honey, now about those floors . . . ”


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