Archive | July, 2013


26 Jul

Well, we are project-less once again.  The stairs have been deemed complete!

This was after I touched up a few things, right before we started to lay the rugs.

I bought a high quality 2×8 rug pad to use on the stair treads. I didn’t want to risk the carpet slipping and I wanted to protect the stairs I just spent weeks working on!

I did a rough cut of the rug pad and then we stapled them on with a pneumatic stapler that we hooked up to our air compressor.  Money well spent, using a regular staple gun would have probably  made us rip out hair out.

We measured to make sure there was enough room on either side so the rug pad wouldn’t show.  I cut them smaller than the rug as well just to be extra careful.

I couldn’t find a rug that was 2×16 (or more) that didn’t look like an old lady’s rug.  There was nothing I liked.  I must have searched every rug website around.  So we ended up buying two 2×8 rugs with a plan to hide the seam.  I ended up buying 3 2×8 rugs because I want to have one cut and re-bound to fit the landing.  It’s a good thing I bought a third because we ran into a snag.

The first rug went on easily.  We started under the top lip and pulled and stretched it as it was stapled.

The rugs are from Home Decorators.  I liked that they were a bit funky.  Kinda modern on a traditional staircase.  That’s my type of jam. Plus it was really hard to find a 2′ wide rug.  Most are 2’6″ and we have a slim staircase – that wouldn’t have worked.

The problem came in when we realized we didn’t have enough rug to do what we wanted. So we figured out a new plan, and started the second rug tucked under the bottom of the first step.

We shouldn’t have done that.

We ended up short and for some reason almost a 1/2″ difference in rug widths!

We had to rip off the rug and get the third rug we bought out to measure against the rug already stapled on the top. Thank God that one was the same width!

We started from where the first rug ended and just made it to staple the rug under the lip at the bottom.  We had to cheat a few times, keeping the rug a bit away from the corners to make it, but it really isn’t noticeable at all.

Where the rugs met on the middle of the stairs we trimmed off the top rug so it fit snugly against the beginning of the second rug.

I doused the cut edge with Fray Check.  It’s used mainly for fabric, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Maybe it will keep the edge from coming undone.

We actually used a putty knife to wedge the top rug into the bottom one.  We wanted to make sure it was really in there.

Here’s the seam.

It’s really not noticeable at all unless you are right on top of it.


Here’s a ton of photos…


I’m thinking of adding a few large frames up the stairway (possibly spray painting them gray) and maybe moving the light switch closer to the wall at the bottom of the stairs. It’s just there – in the middle of the wall – looking strange.

The bonus of all the stair reno is because of all the painting and caulking – the stairs don’t squeak anymore.  A nice little bonus!


Stair Reno: Part Three

19 Jul

DIY in mid-July is not recommended.  Remember last week when I said doing things in high 80’s/low 90’s was bad, apparently I started complaining too early.

Today it’s going to feel like 110 degrees. I don’t live in Texas. This isn’t dry heat.  I gag every time I go outside. It’s disgusting. I’m pretty sure if my dog could lay on top of the air conditioner she would.



Anyway, this post is picture heavy and not about humidity, so I’m going to shut my mouth and get back to the stair renovation.

We left it with the treads stained.  I wanted to get the molding up before I painted so I could paint it all at once. So, last Friday the husband and I went to Home Depot in torrential rain, bought 12 ft. long molding that wouldn’t completely fit in the car, hung it out the passenger side window and drove home in the pouring rain. Not our finest, or driest, moment.

We removed the grate and taped up the stained treads.

We should buy stock in Frog Tape.

We used primed 3.5″ MDF  from Lowe’s for the board and batten. It was cheap and what we needed to create the look we liked.

We started with a piece of 12ft for the baseboard.  I take no credit in the cuts, that was all the husband, he’s 100% a numbers guy. He can figure out the exact angles when I would rather just wing it.   I’m good at thinking up the ideas, he’s good at figuring out what it takes to actually do them!

We put the baseboard on with limited issues and then went to figure out where we wanted the top piece.  We originally were going to put it the same height as the stair rail, but stepping back we realized the stair rail would be blocking the board and batten.  So we raised it about 4 inches.  When looking directly at it, the top piece of molding hovers right above the stair rail.   For numbers dorks, it’s 24.5″ from the steps.

We measured 21″  on an angle from the stairs all the way up (making sure the measuring tape was flush so we got an accurate measurement) and then used that line to keep our board level.

Then we figured out how we liked the middle pieces to be spaced.  I think it ended up being 16.75″ apart.  The husband went to work on the angles and would pass me the cut pieces through the still open hole on the base step. That thing came in handy!

I also drew a little picture on the back of one of the boards so if any future owners decide to take it off, there will be a little surprise for them.

We added a  little piece of molding we randomly stumbled upon at Lowe’s (I don’t know the exact name of it – sorry!) to finish off the top.  Then I spackled all the holes.

The next morning we added a piece of wood to cover up the stair hole and started painting.

After one coat of primer:

I caulked everything when the primer was dry.

After 1st coat of semi-gloss white:

After second coat of white paint:

After the second coat of white paint I declared the wall done.  I took off the tape.  The stairs weren’t.  There was still some patchy spots so I had to finish the next day.

But then I got a cold. Boo!

I put on my big girl pants, sucked it up, and put another coat on the stairs on Wednesday.

I gave it a bit of time and then removed all the tape and paper.  Some of the white paint did bleed through the tape, so I’ll have to touch up a few spots on the stairs, but overall I think they look great.

Photos galore!

White paint makes everything look so much better.

I still need to caulk a few places and touch up some paint.  Then I’m moving on to runner installation.

Before /After

Humidity is the Devil…

11 Jul

The stairs are coming along, but I definitely thought we would be farther along than we are.  We did take a few days to relax over the 4th and this week has been a bust because of work, but I’m still blaming humidity.

Apparently I picked the perfect time to stain and poly a floor – high 80’s/low 90’s and extremely high humidity. It literally felt like someone dumped a bucket of boiling water on you when you walked outside. Not my thing.

Last Saturday we ripped up all the carpet and dug out all the staples. The stairs weren’t in too bad of shape.

Then we hung up plastic sheeting to trap all the dust (We kept calling it the “Kill Room”. People who watch Dexter will understand that, people who don’t probably think I’m crazy).

I trapped myself inside this for hours.

I kept saying it was like I was the reverse Bubble Boy.  Trapped inside with all the bad stuff.  Every now and then I was let out and would jump outside to get some fresh air.

It really did it’s job though. There was no dust anywhere else throughout the house.

I taped off the doors upstairs and those rooms were dust free too.

A few hours later we were left with this…

I sanded with 60 grit to get all the polyurethane off, then again with 150 grit to give it a smooth finish. I used the orbital sander as well as a sanding block with the 150 grit. I wanted to make sure I got it as smooth as possible.

I taped off the treads for staining with Frog tape – my favorite stuff ever.

Since I was worried about the stairs sopping up the stain I started with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

It claims to help make a more even stain. I would have to say it definitely worked.

You have to stain within 2 hours of the pre-stain so I gave it a good 30 minutes to dry (the wood just soaked it right up).

With just the pre-stain…

Then I said a few prayers and started staining. I worked my way from the landing down the stairs with a roll of paper towels, a plastic grocery bag to hold the used towels, a foam brush, and a small can of stain.

I would stain, then let it sit for no more than 5-7 minutes, wipe, and move on.  It worked out well. The color came out very close to our hardwood on the main floor – which made me happy! The bottom step even stained nicely. I was so worried about it but I really think the pre-stain made all the difference.

The lighting makes the landing look more yellow/orange. It’s definitely not that color in person. It’s a nice warm brown. No orange!

It’s Minwax Wood Stain in Early American.

I let the stain dry 24 hours before the first coat of polyurethane. I just wanted to be really sure it was dry and with the crazy humidity we were having it was taking way longer than the recommended drying time.

The first coat of polyurethane went on the next day. I used Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane in Clear Semi-Gloss. Fast drying it was not.

Because of the humidity it took 24 hours to dry. We ninja’ed our way up the stairs that night with the dog under one arm and the dehumidifier in the other. We set up the dehumidifier in the bathroom and let it run through the night. That really helped speed up the drying time.

The second coat went on the next morning.  I sanded the first coat with a 220 grit sanding block, cleaned it up, and then made sure to put it on really thin to decrease the drying time.

It was nice and dry 12 hours later.  We made sure to stay off it as much as possible until 24 hours after it was applied.

So here we are…

I know this last photo is blurry by it shows how it matches the floor the best.

A nice before and after…

This weekend we are hoping to get the backs painted white and some trim hung up.  Hopefully I can start measuring out what we’ll need for the board and batten. PLUS I need to scotch guard the runner, staple that sucker to the stairs and find a carpet store that will cut and re-bind a rug for the landing.

Busy, busy, busy!