Hello! I’m so excited to share this post with you today! If you happened to see this post from last week, then you have already had a sneak peak at my newly redone stairs. Well, as promised, I am going to break down the entire process for you and show you how we went from carpet to hardwood stairs for under $100. Let’s get started!
(This post contains affiliate links. To see my full disclosure, go here.)
Rip up the carpet! Woohoo!
I have been wanting to do this makeover for a couple of years now, as I have hated the carpet since the day we moved in.
I finally nailed down a date for my dad to come help. (Because, let’s face it, we would have been totally lost otherwise…) A few weeks before he came down, he asked me to peel back the carpet a bit in order to see what was underneath. We needed to know exactly what we were going to be working with.
Well, we totally hit the jackpot and discovered that it was unfinished oak underneath all that ugly carpet. This immediately made the job infinitely easier (and cheaper). I also realized that the entire upstairs hallway, which is also covered in the same carpet, is unfinished oak as well. So, I cannot wait to be able to do this same thing to the hallway.
Anyway…back to ripping up the carpet.
My husband and dad were in charge of this task. They simply started at the bottom corner and began ripping and tugging away.
Prepping the stairs for sanding.
(We lucked out in that my dad brought essentially all of the tools we would need for this job. For your convenience, I’ve included links to similar tools in case you don’t have some of them on hand.)
Next up, the tack strips had to come off. Just take the flat, hook end of a crow bar and use a hammer to drive it underneath the tack strip.
Then, pull the handle of the crowbar down towards the floor to dislodge the tack strip.
Simply work your way down the entire length of the tack strip doing this. If it breaks, no problem – it’s all going in the trash anyway. Just toss it and keep going.
Then, using a pair of nipper pliers, pull up all 3,945 staples that are in both the treads (horizontal surface) and the risers (vertical surface).
The last thing to do before sanding is make sure all of the nails are sunk down into the wood. A nail setter is what you’ll need for this.
Place the nail setter on top of each nail and gently tap with the hammer until it has sunk below the surface.
This step creates a fair amount of dust. So, you may want to shut doors, or hang plastic sheets in surrounding doorways.
In our case, the bottom few treads had stain, finish, and carpet glue on the outer edge. So, we sanded until the unfinished wood was nice and smooth, and the edges (finished wood) were completely stripped of finish and carpet glue (hence the coarse grit). We did not, however, worry about completely stripping the stain, as we were planning on simply matching it.
Once finished, make sure to vacuum well before starting the next step.
Investment: Sandpaper – $4.98
We used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in Red Oak. This was the closest color match to what had previously been on the stairs, as well as the railings. The same color is also in all four bedrooms upstairs. So, whenever we get around to finishing the hallway, all of the wood will match.
Using a disposable sponge brush, lay a think coat of stain down on the tread.
Once you have coated the entire tread, go back and wipe away the excess stain with a rag.
The stain requires 8 hours to set before you move on to the final couple of steps.
Investment: Minwax Stain – Quart – $7.77
Four disposable brush sponges – $3.92
Fill nail holes in treads.
I didn’t happen to get any photos of this step. So sorry! It’s pretty simple though. Using a filler pencil that matches your stain, work a bit of the filler into the small space left above the nail head. Wipe away excess so that it is level with tread.
Investment: Filler pencil – $4.38
Coat treads with finish.
Clearly, I was just ready to be done at this point, because again, I don’t have any photos. It’s pretty much the same as Step 4 though. Using a clean/new disposable sponge brush, paint a thin coat of polyurethane (semi-gloss) on the treads.
The polyurethane requires two-hours to dry. Once dried, sand very lightly with fine grit (220) sandpaper.
Repeat with a second coat. Then, put a third, and final, coat of polyurethane on the stairs. After the final coat is dry, go over it very lightly with 0000 super fine steel wool.
Investment: Polyurethane – $49.97
Sandpaper – $4.98
Steel Wool – $3.97
Fill nail holes on risers.
For this, simply take a small amount of spackling paste and fill in the holes. You can use your finger or a putty knife.
Once the spackle has dried, sand the excess off until smooth.
Investment – $4.98
Paint risers and trim.
The final step is painting. Tape off the edges of the treads, as you don’t want to get paint on your newly stained and finished treads. Frog tape works best for this.
If you are still nervous about getting paint on the stairs, you can always cover the entire tread with paper. You can find brown paper rolls at the hardware store. It’s often next to the paint supplies.
Using an oil based paint, put one coat on all of the risers, as well as any trim. We used Sherwin Williams Pro-Classic in Extra White. We also love Purdy paint brushes. Let dry overnight. Then, do a second coat. (Depending on what your risers/trim looked like to begin with, you may need a third coat.)
Investment: Frog tape – $8.98
(We already had paint on hand from other projects.)
Total investment: $93.93
And that’s it! A total stair makeover for minimal investment.
And don’t forget to check out this post to see our entire entryway makeover.