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After purchasing our first home, one of the first DIY projects we wanted to was the stairs leading to the basement. We thought it would be an easy DIY stairs makeover. We thought we could bang it out in a weekend but boy were we wrong. We had a minor hiccup along the way, but eventually everything worked out perfectly. Keep reading to learn more about our DIY stairs makeover.
Our basement stairs leads to a finished basement but the carpet on the stairs were wicked stained. The walls were painted white but it was dingy and needed a fresh coat of paint. We thought it would only take a weekend but little did we know, it turned out to be quite the project.
Here is a before photo.
First we painted the walls a shade of gray. Since we didn’t care about the carpet, we didn’t have to worry if we dripped paint on the stairs.
The next step was to remove the carpet. We were hoping the wood under the carpet would be okay to re-finish but we didn’t know what it looked like until we tore up the carpet. Once we ripped it up, we saw that we had plywood. BOO! Now we knew this project was going to take a little longer than we originally anticipated since we had to replace the stairs treads and risers.
So off to Home Depot we went. We checked out all the stairs treads they had in stock and ended up going with Pine Wood Stair Treads, since it was the cheapest. Little did we know, this was a very costly mistake.
We removed the existing wood and replaced it with the stair treads. We sanded and stained the treads. Once the stain dried, we could see some marks coming through. We weren’t sure why since we were so careful with sanding. So we sanded it down to the wood and started the process all over again. In the end, we did a few stairs two or three times because we weren’t happy with how they looked.
After all the stain was applied, we applied poly and let it set for a few days.
Next thing we knew; we were leaving for a vacation to Mexico to celebrate our birthdays. We were so excited to have a week off from work and house projects and we couldn’t wait to relax in the beautiful sun.
After a day of being home from our trip, we both decided we were not happy with the stairs. We put so much effort into the stairs but we didn’t like how they turned out. We blamed the quality of the wood (Pine Wood is a Soft Wood and you could see every flaw) and the grain of the wood (we should have been more selective with the ones we bought and where we placed them down).
We knew we should have went with Oak so we decided to start over and buy oak treads.
Since we just moved into the house a few months prior, we had yet to get a dining room table because we wanted the stairs done first. So we lined the floor with plastic. We then prepped and stained all the treads in there. We thought it would be better to stain before we put the treads down. We made sure to pay attention to the grain of the wood and we were very selective with how we placed the stairs down.
The stain was coming out much better. It was exactly what we originally visioned. We like the look of Oak wood better than pine wood. We could see a huge difference between the quality of wood.
We did two coats of stain and once they were dried, we used the Finish Nail Gun to attach the stair treads. We put one coat of polyurethane down and then didn’t walk on the stairs for 2 days. We then put another coat of polyurethane down and we didn’t walk on the stairs for 5 days.
We then installed the risers, painted the railing, and touched up the walls since we scuffed it up a little when we put the stairs treads in since they had to fit tight against the wall. After deciding to redo the stairs, it all took under two weeks (if we didn’t need to give it time between coats, it could have been done much faster). Oak wood was much easier to work with.
Voilà. The finished product! They are absolutely BEAUTIFUL!
If you are planning on re-doing your stairs, learn from my our mistake and just got with Oak Wood. You do get what you pay for.