After I finished my staircase redo,
I vowed I would never post anything about it on my blog.
After all, what could I possibly add to all of the other wonderful blogs and information posts?
Then….based on questions I received about how I did certain things…
……Oh hey….it looks like lots of folks have gotten various parts of the story………
that I can find….
the rest this side of the story.
So… I assembled a few tips that were incredibly useful to me…..
and humbly submit them to this most excellent body of knowledge.
Even if it turns out that these are not
the rest of the story…
…which I doubt they are…
perhaps they are
…at the very least….
another most helpful chapter.
Tip #1 – The Big Seal…..keeping stuff out.
For many reasons, it is so important to seal off the work area. Long dry and cure times for certain kinds of paint mean human and/or pet hair, dust, lint, bouncing balls, and etc. can undo an awfully lot of good work. Protect the work area with some kind of seal and make every effort to keep all pets and nonessential persons out of the work area. It may sound ridiculous, but one stuck hair on a semi-dry step can create a resand and redo situation. Nightmare. Time consuming. Ugh.
This is actually the seal to my kitchen redo. I am embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t get a snap of the staircase seal.
Tip #2 – The Big Seal…..keeping stuff in.
When the carpet pull begins, dust and dirt will likely fill the air. The two easiest ways to control this are….(1) seal off the area…and (2) run the vacuum during the pull. Even the cleanest of carpets will set loose lots of dust as it is pulled from the steps. This time we’re thinking about protecting the rest of the home. This dust does not need to land all over the kitchen…upholstery…drapes…beds. You get my drift.
Tip #3 – Cut It If You Can
Try to cut the carpet and pull it up in sections. It’s easier to handle and lessens the amount of flying dirt. Once a section of carpet is pulled, take it immediately to the outdoors. Don’t set it down and keep pulling the next section. Then, pull the pad separately. Keep the vacuum going….generate a draft for the dust…..right into the snoz of the vacuum. Then clean. Vacuum. Pull ALL of the nails. Fill holes with wood filler.
Once the sanding starts, nobody should go up and down the stairs without shoe covers. Instead of shoe covers, I laid heavy pieces of construction grade brown paper over the steps. Part of sanding is to remove dirt and grime….and the other part is to smooth the surface. Paint will not stick to dirt and grime. Stain will actually show the foot or hand prints. Either way…it creates a real mess. So get strict about this and protect the sanded stairs against new grime.
Tip #5 – Clean Up Your Act
Once sanding is complete, it’s time to clean the steps and the woodwork as if you are prepping for surgery. I put a HEPA anti-allergy filter in my vacuum cleaner and actually ran the vacuum during the entire sanding process. Some hand sanders have bags attached to collect the dust, but they don’t catch the fine stuff. You know….the stuff that causes grit and prevents paint from sticking. I did follow the vacuuming with a wet wipe. The painted areas were ok to wipe with a damp cloth, but wetting the raw wood on the steps can cause the fibers to rise. And, no…they don’t go back down when the wood dries….the wood has to be sanded again. Hence, my Type-A approach with the vacuum.
Tip #6 – See You at the Top
I looked at a boatload of blogs and not one talked about how to tie-off the carpet at the top of the stairs. So.. here’s the deal. The carpet on the floor has to be finished off somewhere and that somewhere is by cutting it so that it butts up to a little guy called the stair nose molding. I had to get mine from a hardwood wholesaler. But, I made a template of how wide the piece needed to be and even included the cut-outs on the left side. The standard depth is about 5 inches… which matched my other molding perfectly. The man at the warehouse cut the piece to fit. I just brought it home and installed it. Easy peasey. It plopped right into the spot. The keys:
Make a template.
And…cut the carpet back AFTER you have the molding to use as a guide.
Tip #7 – Meet You at the Bottom
Some carpet may roll over the last step and end at the floor. Such was the case with my carpet….so I had to find shoe molding to fill the gap. The problem I faced was that my home improvement store didn’t carry the exact shoe molding that was on the left and right sides….and I didn’t know how to install curved molding. So….I took the closest molding I could find and sanded it down to match as best as I could. It’s not 100% perfect, but is also not noticeable unless you are REALLY inspecting the staircase. And…so. I think it’s A-ok.
Tip #8 – Painter Up
The age-old question…which is painted first…the risers or the steps. Well, I painted the risers and surrounding woodwork first. I knew the dry/cure time for the woodwork paint and how it responds to having painter’s blue tape on it for extended periods of time…days and days. This removed an unknown and made the overall process a little less stressful. In sequence, I painted the wall its new color, then the woodwork, and then risers. Always work with paint in a direction that makes logical sense to you and best fits your knowledge base. Remember, too…I am using porch paint on the steps….not stain. Even if I were using stain, I think I would still paint the risers first, but I’ve seen many blogs that did it the other way around. Tip #9 – Choose Your Poison
Choose which set of steps you will paint first. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s every other one. As far as technique, I used porch paint and fauxed painted a wood grain. For the base coat, I applied a mahogany color and let it dry to touch… at least 24 hours. Then… to the same stairs, I added a second light coat of mahogany and immediately worked streaks of black into the wet base coat. Warning. Work quickly...because the paint “sets-up” quickly…even though it takes it longer to dry. Once the paint begins to set, do not try to keep working it. If there’s a boo boo to repair…let it dry and then paint over it. Otherwise, globs of sticky paint could be created..and subsequently…a redo nightmare. THE CURE
Tip #10 – Patience Is a Virtue
I did not put a poly coating over the stairs. However, I did let it fully cure before it was walked on without the brown coverings on the steps. Every day, I lifted the coverings from whichever set of “every-other-ones” was covered that day. If it resisted…like it was stuck…even a little…the coverings continued. This went on for about 8 weeks. Now….four months later…I am happy to report that the stairs look just like they did they day I finished. In fact, many of the photos were actually taken today. I wish you well in your stair redo. It made a world of difference in the appearance of our main floor. As the remainder of the refresh in this area is completed, I’ll add more pictures.
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Until next time,