Tag Archives: stain

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!


So It Begins

27 Jun

The carpet removal has begun.  On Saturday we ripped off the carpet on the bottom two stairs. I needed to see if there was actually wood under there and if it was salvageable. Check for both!

I wanted to try to sand a step or two to see how long it would take and if it would work. I have a small palm sander that I used and quickly realized it would take me forever to sand everything with it.  The sandpaper kept falling off!

So, my husband loves me and took me to Home Depot and bought me an Orbital Sander. Nothing makes my heart flutter more than power tools. I’m my father’s daughter.

I got the DeWalt 5 inch Random Orbital Sander (This). The sandpaper sticks directly to the pad and makes life a whole lot easier for me. It took me 10 minutes to sand one step, when previously it took me at least 30.

Look how pretty it is.

I took the same stain that is on our floors now and tested a little spot on the stairs.

Big problem with the bottom stair. It stained so much darker than the floors. I put the stain on and wiped it off immediately. It’s still several shades darker and incredibly noticeable.  I’ve read you can water down stain with turpentine. We might do that or pick a lighter shade that is as close of a match as we can get. We’ll see. The rest of the stairs stain exactly like the floor. It’s just the horizontal planks on the bottom step.


No bueno.

Ignore the brown grate. That’s going away. It’s non-functional and dumb.

Because there is something wrong with us and we can’t ever stop at what we had planned for the day – we ripped off the carpet on the landing.

It’s definitely worn. There are definitely a lot of scratches, but nothing was deep. It was all superficial. I love the look of older hardwood too and this has the potential to have the character that I love.

And because I’m an idiot I decided I should sand the whole landing. So I did. For almost 4 hours.

60 grit sandpaper really cuts through the polyurethane.

I was a mess and the house was a mess.  We hung up plastic sheeting to protect the downstairs, but there still was dust all over the place.

And me…

Don’t I look wonderful. Miss America, ladies and gentlemen.

But the floors looked good.


After a lot of vacuuming….

There are still a few places that I need to hit with my Dremel Oscillating Tool. That little guy is great to sand in tough to reach places.

I’m not sure if I’m going to fill the small crack above with stain-able wood putty or not. I’ve heard some not so great things about it so I’m on the fence. That will be a game time decision.

Here’s a good shot of where it was sanded and wasn’t…

I’m going to go over it lightly with 150 grit sandpaper before I stain. Just to make sure everything is smooth.

It’s going to be a crazy weekend.

The Accent Wall

1 May

I can admit, this wasn’t an idea I thought up myself.  I saw Sarah do it over at Thrift Decor Chick (Here’s her original post) and fell in love with it immediately. It’s rustic, but slightly industrial. You can tailor it to the feel of your home based on stain or paint. I was hooked, but I wasn’t sure where to put it.  I played with a few areas. At the top of the stairs, a wall in the living room, but I kept coming back to the wall in the entryway.  It would be a nice impact right when you walk in. It would look great with the tile and the color on the walls.

So I searched Lowe’s for weeks for the tongue and groove pine planking that was needed for the project. Apparently it was in high demand! My husband finally found it and brought 5 packages (there’s about 5 or 6 8 ft. planks per package).  Way more than we needed – but it’s better to return than search for more!

We grabbed the nail gun, a level, and a measuring tape and got started.

We started at the top and worked our way down.

We found out very quickly that our walls are NOT even so each plank needed to be measured and cut.  That’s what took the most time. We had to re-measure every time as we continued down the wall. It’s funny now that each board is a different measurement – it was not funny at the time since our miter saw is in the basement and we ran up and down the stairs at least 100 times that day.

A few hours later we were here…

The bottom pieces were tricky since we needed to notch out where the window molding was and trim about an inch off of another so it didn’t cover the baseboard.  Since we don’t have a table saw the jig saw had to suffice.  My husband took the reins on this one and was able to make the cuts (with only a slight hiccup).

Here’s the finished wall – pre-stain.

I was already in love.  We let it sit for a few days, giving it time to settle, and also giving us some time to relax!

I taped around the ceiling, walls, and baseboard molding, and added some plastic sheeting to keep the stain off the floor.  It was my first time staining something so I was a bit nervous.  I took a scrap piece of pine and practiced to see how long the stain needed to sit until it reached the color we liked.  Then, I just went for it.

You work up a sweat trying to keep a wet edge when you are staining something so large! I did two coats and let the stain sit in for about 10-12 minutes on each coat.  The top stained a bit darker than the bottom, so that sat on for only about 7 minutes.  It’s all trial and error.  I would rather do 50 coats to get the color I like then only do a few and have it end up darker than I wanted.

Here’s what it looked like after the stain.

The stain was Minwax Wood Finish in Early American. It’s actually the stain on our hard wood floors so it flows nicely.

I applied it with a foam brush and wiped off with regular paper towels.  Keep an old shopping bag beside you when you are wiping so you can keep all the soiled paper towels in one place.

I let the stain dry, waiting about 24 hours just in case, and then did a coat of polyurethane to keep it sealed.  I used Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane in semi-gloss.  Applied with a foam brush.  Apply slowly and make sure to watch for bubbles.

I ripped the tape off, touched up any spots that stain leaked through, repainted the trim and was finished!

Here’s what it looks like now…

I’m so in love with it.  It really adds something to a very tiny entryway. Plus is looks great from the kitchen too.

The skylight in the entryway almost makes a spotlight – brightening up the wall even more.  That was a happy coincidence.

Considering what it looked like when we moved it, I think the accent wall definitely improved the whole look of the house.  We love it so much we are thinking of putting a second accent wall above our stairs!

This is really the best before I have (from our inspection):

And after:


Now all I need to do is find some curtains and possibly a small entry table and I can label this space DONE!