DIY: Carpet to Hardwood Staircase Makeover
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How to Remove Carpet from a Staircase and Refinish the Wood with Stain and Paint.
Re-doing my staircase is something I wanted to do the minute I moved into my house – that was 17 years ago. I have always yearned for hardwood steps and white painted risers.
Now I have them. The carpet held up extremely well all that time, but after seeing so many successful stair makeovers on so many blogs, I decided it was worth a shot, plus it was actually a whole lot cheaper than having the carpet on them cleaned!
Before Photo: Staircase Makeover
Foyer Staircase with Carpet Before Makeover
If you decide to do rip the carpet off your staircase and stain the wood it isn’t that hard to do. I worked on it a few hours a day and completed the project in just a few days.
How to Makeover a Staircase
I always thought since my home was a builders spec house that the steps had no bull-nose. But low and behold when I went to take a peek to see what was under the carpet I was surprised to find bull-nose steps – a big plus.
The downside: the steps were not hardwood, but soft pine boards with lots of rough knots and imperfections and overspray of paint. I didn’t let this stop me though.
The hardest part of re-doing the stairs was the fact that they were opened on the outer edge.
Removing the carpet between the balusters was tough and the carpet was adhered with glue and 20 staples on each outer edge.
How To Remove Staples From Carpet on Staircase Steps
Once I got all the staples out with a paint of needle nose pliers and a lot of muscle, the edges were pretty chewed up.
My husband helped me sand them smooth to remove the paint and smooth the nail holes, but they were not perfect.
Each one had overspray on it from when the detail molding piece was installed by the builder.
This overspray of paint was hard to remove as each edge was rounded bull-nose.
How to Sand Wood Steps Between Staircase Balusters
To sand in-between the balusters I used a little 3M manual sander called Sandblaster Pro Detail Sanding Tool.
It is hard to find in stores now, but you can still get one here: Sandblaster Pro Detail Sanding Tool
You can also use any detail sander with a pointed tip Ryobi makes one. Ryobi Detail Sander
The very hardest part (you may not have this problem) was keeping track of where Trax the cat was.
I didn’t want little cat paws in the stain, paint, and poly. He of course was curious to see what I was up to every time I worked on the steps. He thought he was my helper. He did end up one day with a bit of white paint on his tail.
There were also some other places were the carpet was hard to remove, but it finally all came off.
With the hard part removing the carpet and sanding the steps to remove the overspray of paint complete, it was now time to have fun with stain, poly, and paint.
If you have nail holes still on your steps after sanding, you can fill them with Minwax Stainable Wood Filler. Do not use regular wood putty as it will not take the color of the stain and you will be left with light colored spots under the stain.
This photo is before the steps were sanded to remove the overspray of paint on each side of the steps.
Since the boards were soft pine. I used Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner on each step before I stained them. It prepares soft wood like pine to take the stain better.
Once the pre-conditioner coat was on I had up until 2 hours to then apply the stain. I used the traditional Minwax stain in the yellow can.
I wanted a dark enough color to hide the knots, but not too dark as I wanted it to coordinate with the darkest part of the grain in the floor and the banister as well as the sideboard in my foyer.
I ended up mixing the colors Provincial with Early American and applied it with and old rag.
Should You Stain The Steps or Paint the Risers First?
I stained the steps first. I took the advice of Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick who recommended in her tutorial to do this first as she painted her risers first and then when she stained the steps the stain got on the painted risers and was hard to get off.
What is the Best Polyurethane for Steps on a Staircase?
I used Zinseer Bulls Eye Ultimate Polyurethane.
I applied 3 coats over a two day period, letting each coat dry thoroughly. I did every other step so we could still go up and down.
When those steps were complete, I did the others. I put post- it notes on the steps that could be stepped on, just in case we forgot which steps were safe.
When I painted each riser and baluster I used Frogtape to mask out the areas I didn’t want the paint to touch.
It was a bit time consuming putting tape around each baluster, but when I removed it I had perfect edges. I love using this tape, I think it is much better than the blue tape I used to use when painting.
Staircase Makeover After
Why did I wait so long to reveal your hidden beauty?
I love my new stairs! It was a very inexpensive project. I already had the can of white paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster) and the rest cost under $25.
Doesn’t the staircase look so fresh and modern… and CLEAN?
If your are considering re-doing a staircase in your home, all I can say is – Go Do It – now! You will be sooo happy you did.
Staircase Makeover UPDATE:
I have moved from this house. The house I moved into had carpet runner on the staircase. See it how I made it over:
- It was a slightly different staircase where I also had to paint all the spindles. – Lake House Foyer Staircase Makeover
More Staircase Makeover Ideas:
- How to Paint Staircase Risers
- Staining Staircase Steps
- How To Add a Closet with a Hidden Door Under a Staircase
- Christmas Staircase Decorating On a Dime
Do you recommend using paint remover first then sand?
Hi Anna – You could use paint remover first, but that will make a mess and is so smelly. Sanding does the job well and then you only have to add the paint remover in spots.
Thanks so very much for the detailed instructions. I am in the deciding and husband convenceing stage. I am very nervous but excited to get started your details seem very easy. I love the detail of where you gave ibnstruction of staining every other stair so they can still be used, and the posted notes was genius. THANKS
Hi Linda – My husband was a little skeptical when I redid that staircase. He just didn’t have the vision I did. Years later when I redid the staircase in my current house he was all it. I hope he comes onboard as it can make such a big difference.
Your stairs are beautiful, I stained mine with minwax black & covered with minwax polyurethane, Why is it showing footsteps after its dry ? Help! Thanks
Hi Cori – Is an impression of footsteps getting in-grained in the surface, or is it dust from the bottom of the shoes showing up on the dark surface? Knowing this will help me give you an answer.
Great job! It looks beautiful.
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I love the colors that you had in your staircase wall. Is that a Benjamin Moore color or something else on the walls, if you know the color please send it along to me. Thanks
Hi Mel – The color on the walls in my previous home’s foyer. The color is a Benjamin Moore color: Edgecomb Gray #HC-173
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Can you stain one side of the stair treads at a time, so that you can walk up and down? I don’t want there to be any sort of “line” that will show through. I anticipate that if I do a jagged edge, rather than a straight line where I stop, I may be able to blend both sides? Or did you stain every other step? Any helpful hints are appreciated. Thanks.
Hi Darlene – I did every other step, let them dry and then did the others. It was not too hard to just skip a step while they dried. I would not do half the step, you would see a line for sure. Did you read this post: https://inmyownstyle.com/staining-staircase-steps.html ?
It is the second staircase I did after I moved. Reading the post may help you get the process down. I used a different poly on this staircase – very shiny. I liked the finish on the first staircase better, but know you have options for the sheen.
Beautiful! Do you know the color of the paint on the walls by any chance?
Hi Kelsi – The paint color on the walls is: Benjamin Moore: Edgecomb Gray #HC-173 It is a light taupe color with a hint of grey.
It’s Good Work, thanks for sharing the great information of stairs.
The individuals can discuss their requirements with them and get an idea of the hardwood stairs cost in Burlington. This enables them to complete the project within the budget and without any hassle. The individuals are provided with expertise by a team of specialists having experience of 100+ years in combination.
It’s Good Work, thanks for sharing the great information of stairs
It’s Good Work, thanks for sharing information
Nice article we loved it and you got exceptional results, your stairs transformation look superb congratulations
Looks so nice. I am surprised you got good wood under your carpet and they are cut precisely to fit.
My staircase is very ugly w/ chipped plywood. The joints are crooked and the planks are usualy 1/4″ from the wall.
They are not even straight but all those things were hidden by the carpet and were non-issues.
Hi Joey – When I removed the carpet I was so hesitant because I thought the wood would be junky and not bullnosed. I was so happy to find what I did. Even with a few knots in the wood, redoing them was doable. Sorry to hear that yours are plywood. :-(
Hello, This summer removed the carpet from my stairs one night while my husband was at work. It took a while from start to finish because we had to order slats for the landing. But the final product was worth it. Would do this over again if I had to.
I agree with you. It takes a lot of effort, but the rewards of redoing a staircase are worth it. Thanks for telling me about yours.
Man, am I glad I kept searching through tutorials and found yours. It was, by far, one of the easiest to understand and follow. I am so psyched to get my project started and thank you for providing photos and helpful hints along the way!!!
Yes! Thanks so much for your titoiral very easy to understand, My case was the exact same as your, already getting started.
Thank you so much.
HI!!! So I saw your post and it lead me to tear off a piece of my carpet on my stairs. I was so happy to see I have bullnose(?) steps like yours! But I have a question… how were you able to strip and sand in between the balusters??? Its so tight and my handheld sander wont fit at all!!! Help!!
Hi Cindi – I will edit the post to show and explain what I used. I used a little detail sander called a Sandblaster Pro Detail Sanding Tool. It is a manual hand sander with a pointy tip. I don’t see it in stores anymore, but I did find it here. It comes with sandpaper on it, but you should also get extra sandpaper if they still make it. https://amzn.to/2LwCcUc
You can also look at a Ryobi Detail Sander that can get into tight areas. Here is what it looks like: http://bit.ly/2NEnnMR
The stair makeover in both your houses look great. Thank you for writing the detailed directions so I can have success working in my home.
I have professionally installed engineer oak on the steps in the upper levels of my home. The carpeted steps to my laundry room and exercise room needs to be removed. The estimate for installing engineered oak to match the other areas of our home was $1200. for seven steps. Not in the budget at this time.
So I have decided to stain and poly the pine steps. Any suggestions about how to solve the problem where the steps and risers do not meet the wall. I want to stain the whole staircase area so it is similar to the rest of the staircases in our house.
Thank you so much.
Hi Mary – Can you explain in more detail what you mean by where the steps and risers meet the wall. Is this an open side of the staircase or is there a gap between the stairs/risers wall. If you can snap a photo with your phone and send it to my email I will take a look. inmyownstyle @gmail.com
Please beware!! We carpeted our stairs for safety reasons. After several falls down the beautiful stained stairs, we just couldn’t risk it any more. No falls on the carpets!
How did you do the carpet on the top step?
Hi Mark – I hope I can explain how the carpet was done on the top step. I actually didn’t do anything to it. There are two pieces of carpet on the staircase. The first piece goes all the way up the staircase and stops right under the bullnose above the top-most riser. This bullnose section is the landing level and is covered with a second piece of carpet that covers the second floor. This carpet was cut in a way that wraps around and stops under the bullnose. It meets up with the first carpet the goes up the steps and stops right under the second floor piece. When I removed the carpet going up the steps right up to the bottom of the bullnose landing, the top bullnose carpet stayed intact since it was a separate piece of carpet that covers the second floor. I hope this makes sense.
Just recently completed this project on our stairs, it looks great. Our problem is that some of the white paint bled they the tape and now it’s on the poly-ed stair! Any suggestions to remove it?
Hi Denise –
So just to make sure I understand, white paint bled under the painter’s tape and got under the poly-ed steps? If this is the case, you have two options that I can think of. 1: You can use a small piece of sandpaper or even a tip of a razor blade or X-Acto knife and see if you can remove the areas with paint on them. Clean it off and then dab some poly with a very small paint brush back on to the steps. #2: See if you can find a match in the poly color to a craft paint or pen. Use this to dab over the white painted areas to hide it and so that it blends in with the color on the steps. Then dab poly over it and blend it into the step so you don’t see a ridge of poly on each step.
I know it must be frustrating after all your hard work, but with a little more effort I think you can hide the paint bleed. No one will notice except you since you know it was there. :-)
I have already filled the staple holes & gouges with a wood filler. Will this look terrible if I stain them? I want to do the exact same project as you did. Stain the steps & paint on the risers.
Hi Norman – Minwax sells stainable wood putty now that would be perfect for you to use. Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler is ideal for repairing cracks, small gouges, nail holes, knot holes and other defects in all types of unfinished indoor and outdoor wood surfaces. If you can’t find it in the home improvement store, it is sold on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2mWSsyM
Did you sand all the paint off? It almost looks like you stained over the paint but I may have missed that step above.
Hi Maria –
I can see why you missed the sanding the paint off step in the my post. I did this when I first stared blogging and I didn’t take enough photos of each step in the directions. I added a caption under the one photo where the paint is still on to clarify that it was taken before I sanded. I do mention the sanded early in the post. I just don’t have a photo showing that. I am in the process of doing the same thing to the staircase in my current house. It is a bit different, but I am using all the same products. It is a lot of work, but once the carpet is up and the sanding done, the staining and painting are pretty easy.
This is so beautiful and how kind of you to still be answering questions about this project so many years later! I looked through the comments and unless I missed it, I didn’t see how many coats of stain you did. I saw you did three of the poly but didn’t see the stain. I am a very novice DIYer so apologize if this is an obvious question. :)
Hi! I love your new stairs! I would love to do this to my carpeted stairs. We have carpeting in the whole house (ugh) but I think the carpeting on the stairs are the dirtiest. I can only use the hose on the stairs, and I doubt that the hose cleans really well! I have two questions: did you use the conditioner before staining? Also, what did you use to get out all the staples! Thanks!
Hi Lauren –
Yes I used conditioner. I used Minwax PreStain. To remove the staples we used needle nose pliers with grooves on the inside of the blades that help grab each staple.
I am redoing the staircase in my new house. So far I have the steps stained, now I am going to paint the risers and balusters. I should be posting it within the next month. I used the PreStain again and it really does help the stain go on more evenly.
I have a question. Are stairs are identical, EXCEPT our risers seem to be made a “chipboard”. Any suggestion how to paint these?
Hi Michele – Chipboard can be painted but it will still look uneven. The best thing to do is to buy a sheet of 1/4″ luan sub-flooring cut to the size of each riser and cover the chip board and then paint the nice smooth luan. You can buy 4 x 8 sheets of this for $15 and have the home improvement store cut it down to size for you. I would attach the luan with Liquid Nails. The only problem with this is that if your stairs are open on one side you will see the line between the luan and the riser when looking at the staircase from the side. To fix this, simply cover with Spackle, sand smooth, clean and then paint.
Did you use an electric sander for the steps?
Hi Pat – Yes we used a palm size sander to sand the steps smooth. We started with medium grade sandpaper and ended with fine 220 grit.
And also what kind of white paint finish do you recommend? High gloss semi gloss or a matted finish?
Hi Alia – I used semi-gloss paint. It is just the right sheen, not too shiny, but has a little reflection and easy to wipe clean.
Hi, I loved how easy you made everything sound. I’m about to do the same, and found pine wood steps with bullnose.the steps have little cracks or lines besides the staple holes did you have to puddy anything? Thanks.
Hi Alia – If you are going to stain the steps, then do not put wood filler or putty in them. Most of theses will not take the stain in the same way as the wood and they will stand out even more. If you are going to paint the steps, then it is OK to fill the holes. To make the staple holes less noticeable, we sanded them as smooth as we could. The dark stain did the rest.
I am currently doing the same project with my stairs as you have and just wondering whether you could help me out with the white paint. I have some good quality white gloss, and am wondering whether I should use a primer before applying the gloss (I’ve only ever gone over my skirting boards!)
Hi Sarah – Yes – Prime first. This will ensure that any tannins or wood stain in or on the wood boards will not seep through the paint and change the color of your white paint.
Thanks Diane :) I must say that after retrieving all of the staples and nails that were holding the carpet down, it feels like I’m half done already!
Hi Sarah – Way to go! It is the hardest part of the whole project. The rest will be easy. My husband just removed the carpet and all the nails on the staircase in our new house. I will be posting about it soon.
After careful consideration, I don’t think I’ll be using wood stain on mine. The previous owner had a runner down the middle of the staircase at one point, and the side of the treads are glossed. I have spent a lot of time today with paint remover and my trusty sander and made very little progress, so think I’ll be going over the gloss with floor paint after another sanding session rather than staining to save myself some time with removing all of it!
hi Sarah – Floor paint will look just as nice. I would read the directions on the can to see if the recommend a sealer. It may be a good thing if after the paint is cured and dry to put water-based poly over it for extra protection. (Water-based won’t yellow the paint color) The one that I used, Ultimate Polyurethane was great. I plan to use it again on the staircase makeover in my new house.
Love your beautiful stair makeover. Your before picture looks exactly like my staircase except I have stained my handrails a dark stain. I do not think my steps have the bullnose underneath. If your stairs had not had the bullnose, how were you going to fix this? Do I remove the banisters? I know I can buy the risers and bullnose end caps but not sure what to do with the banisters. So want this done to my stairs. Just beautiful. Great job.
Thanks Bonnie – I did not remove the banister since my steps had bullnose. I just sanded, stained and polyed them. If they didn’t have a bullnose edge I would have had to remove the banister to replace each step. You could also leave the banister intact and add a bullnose edge to each step. This would work fine, but you would see a joint on each step. With a dark stain it may not be noticeable. I have seen staircases with non-bullnose steps (squared-off) but I do not think it looks as nice. You would have to decide how much work you want to do and if you don’t mind the look of a staircase with squared edge steps. I would take a peek under your carpet as you may be surprised to find bullnose. :-)
I have the same stairs and I could not see how it could be done. Now I can. I just need to see if the edges are bullnose!!! Wish me luck!!
Do you know how to fix it if it does not have the bullnose? I have the exact same stairs but don’t think I have bullnose underneath. Is the whole banister removed?
Thank you for your tutorial. I’m in the process of the same project and have stained my steps as well as my banister. I’m currently done with all the staining and poly and wondered how long you waited before putting tape on the stained stairs? Also, it says on the frog tape directions not to put it on lacquered finishes. Did you have any problems with the tape on the stained finish?
Hi Marian – The longer you can wait the better. I would make sure the poly is fully dry. Read the label to see about drying time. I did the staining paint over the course of about 5 days. If it is humid where you live you may want to wait longer. I did not have any problems with the Frog Tape bringing the finish up. If you are using water-based poly and not a lacquer then you should be fine to proceed once the poly is fully dry.
I am about to take on a project like this. Did you happen to do anything about the holes made by the carpet staples? My stairs are full of holes from previous carpet.
Hi Heather –
We had a ton of staple holes also. We sanded over them quite a bit to smooth them and make them look less noticeable. Once we did this and stained the steps, the holes were barely visible.
Beautiful job! How did you paint the risers? With a brush or foam brush? And how many coats did you do? Thanks!
Beautiful job! Did you use a brush or roller for the risers? How many coats? Thanks!
Looks awesome! I’m curious what your floor is at bottom of your stairs?? I have similar staircase amd wood floors, so my fear is contrasting strain colors amd if it will be too dark
Hi Jill – If you look at the photos in this post you will be able to see the difference in color on the steps and floor.
I matched the darkest wood swirls in the floor to use as the color to stain the steps. You can mix colors of stain together as long as they are the same kind and brand to get a custom color that is right for your stairs and floor.
Thank you for your wonderful blog about your stair project. I just moved into a 1930’s Craftsman house and am not an avid lover of carpeting … but that’s what is on the stairs. I’m trying so, so hard not to pull up the carpeting just yet, to see what wood is underneath (rest of the house has wood floors, not original, but are in good shape). If I did pull up the carpeting, my DH will have a fit (did this in last house, only in the closet, saw that maple flooring was underneath, and proceeded to rip out ALL the carpeting in hallway/livingroom … tossed on front lawn … hubby came home from work …. uhhhmmm …. Hullo darling … would you like a drink while I tell you the story?
I will save your project in my “project list file” and hopefully have same success as you have done!!!
Love love love! Love the look, love the ease of cleaning (no vacuum to lug up and down), love the safety of non-carpeted steps. Others may disagree but I think uncarpeted stairs are less dangerous. Even bare feet ‘cling’ better to wood than carpet, IMHO.
Lots of work but lots of great return! Fabulous!
Hi Connie – The staircase makeover made the biggest difference in my house. It took it from 90’s to modern. I just wish I had not waited so long to do it. I agree that bare feet cling better to wood than carpet. :-)
My stairs are not bull nosed. Would this method of redo still work and still look good? Your steps are amazing!
Hi Debbi – The method I used to refinish my staircase would work the same for your steps. Bullnose justs looks a bit nicer on a staircase, but squared off steps will look just as nice and way better than carpet. :-)
Hi! Your stairs look amazing! I am having a hard time figuring out what to do with our stairs. They are a very light and VERY polished solid oak. I want to make them darker like yours, but not sure if I need to thoroughly sand each step or if I can get away with just a deglosser or liquid sander? Or do I need that at all? Maybe a light sand would do the trick? I’m not trying to take off paint or anything, just prepping for a new stain obviously. Any tips? Or am I going to have to go full on sanding for this project? That is the part that makes me not want to do it! :)
How did you get the white paint off the treads?? It looks amazing and we are getting ready to do this at my daughters house!
Hi Nancy – We, my husband really…:-) he sanded them off with an electric hand sander and 100 grit sandpaper finished up with 220 grit to smooth after all paint was removed. For the tight areas around the balusters, he used a little manual hand sanding block with a pointed tip. We bought it at Lowes. I took some elbow grease, but it all came off.
I’m planning to give it a go -with 4 cats!! – so thought I might do a couple of steps at a time – do you see any potential problems with that in terms of how it might work?
Also, I’m in England, so hoping I can find similar products here .
It looks lovely, and is a real inspiration -thanks for sharing,
Hi Sheila – Having the cats around will surely add a challenge, but I did it with one and we all survived and no steps had little paws on them. :-) I don’t think they like the smell and stay away. I did every other step so we could get up and down still while they were a work in progress. The stain dries quickly. The paint on the risers is sort of out of the way. It is the sealer that is the most challenging part with cats since it takes 30 mins to dry and then no walking on it for 24 hours. Once the staircase is done, you will be so happy with your efforts and any inconvenience you had to deal with will be forgotten. :-)
hello! did you have carpet at the top landing of your stairs? I want to do this but am wondering if we also remove the carpet on the landing or leave it and if we would stain that or paint it white if we removed? I plan to do the stain on the steps and risers white.
Hi Jennifer – I left the carpet on the second floor. You can see it in the photo at the top of the staircase. If I removed it to have a hardwood floor upstairs I would have stained the bullnose to match the flooring. Every staircase is a bit different, but however yours is configured, I would stain the steps and bullnose and paint the riser sections.
If new flooring was installed upstairs, the bullnose that meets the staircase on the second floor may have to be removed and a new one that matches the flooring installed.
this tutorial is helpful. my stairs are currently taped off and ready for stain but I’m having a hard tim to committing. :( did you sand between your poly applications? and did you apply the poly with a rag too? did you only require that small can of Stan for all this stairs? thanks
Hi Sarah –
I did not sand between coats of stain, but did make sure they were clean and dust free before adding another coat. I used a rag to apply the stain so I could smooth it on each step quickly. I applied the poly with a brush. The quart can in the photo is the only one I needed to put three light coats of poly on the stairs. If you are afraid to commit, try the stain on a scrap piece of wood that is the same type of wood as your stairs to see how the color will look.
Thanks for posting this detailed project? Question, how long does it take each coat (stain, poly) to dry? I also have 2 cats and have no idea how I would keep them away… How did you?
Hi Kay- It does not take the stain long at all to dry – about an hour. The poly dries in a few hours but you should not step on it for at least 24 hours so it has time to cure. To keep the cat and dog off the steps, I set the cat up in a bedroom with his litter box. The dog we kept in our mudroom that has a gate so she could not get out.
Love this! Fabulous job!!! I’m going to do this is our house!!!! Thanks so much!
So glad to see you commenting on your stairs in 2015! I am wondering how they are holding up? They looked gorgeous when you initially finished. Just curious about your opinion over the years. Thanks for all your tips!
Hi Kim – They have held up great. They look almost as perfect as the day I stained and sealed them, even with a 40 pound dog running up and down them. :-) There are a few minor scratches, but the sealer has done its job well. The risers have never needed to be touched up. I have cleaned a smudge or two from them over the years, but that is it. I would do this exact staircase makeover immediately if we moved into another house that had carpeted cover stairs.
I removed the carpet from my stairs and it is pine. I know it’s softer than oak and just working on the steps leaves small dents here and there. And I plan to get a puppy. I’m worried the pine will look all scratched up after a while with a dog and was considering purchasing oak treads instead. Does sealer really help with that?
Hi Jason – Sealer will help keep the stairs more durable to the foot traffic. I had a 60 lb dog that went up and down the stairs a few times a day. We made sure to keep her nails clipped to lessen any damage. There were some marks, but nothing that looked awful. We sold the house and I we didn’t have to do a thing with the stairs to get them ready to sell. They looked just fine.
Having oak treads would be great. I didn’t want to go to the time and expense to change out the treads on my staircase, but if you have the skills and the means I would go for getting oak. No knots and a much harder wood.
I absolutely had no idea that pine could turn out so pretty! Thank you for the detailed instructions. My medium oak banister looks very dated; is there a way to darken them with a stain?
Hi Patti – Yes there is a way to darken your oak banister. Minwax makes a product called Polyshades. It comes in a few different colors. All you need to do is: Lightly go over the banister with a hand sanding block to rough up the surface a bit. Clean off the grit and then add a thin coat of Polyshades. Let dry, and add more coats as needed. Follow the directions on the label in terms of re-coating times and the temperature of room when applying. Also it is worth the extra expense to buy a quality brush. Purdy or Wooster are brush brands I highly recommend. They will evenly spread the stain giving you great results.
I am speechless!
That is one of the most amazing transformations I’ve ever seen and the fact that it was so inexpensive takes it to a whole new level!
To tell the truth I was worried when I saw the first pics after you removed the carpet…
I was hoping it would turn out “okay”… well it turned out a lot more than “okay”…. your staircase is BEAUTIFUL!!
Good job and thanks for the inspiration!! :)
Hi Catalynn – The staircase was and still is the best home improvement project I have done to my house. It took some time, but was well worth it.
I (like so many others,) love this transformation!
I was wondering how it is holding up after a few years. Have you had to re-do it or touch it up at all?
Also, did you paint your trim yourself or was that already white? If you did, do you have a tutorial? How is it holding up?
Hi Elizabeth – It is holding up beautifully, even with a dog running up and down it 15 times a day. :-) I have not had to touch it up at all. I did paint the trim myself. It used to be antique white. I painted it white white. I don’t have a tutorial on that. I primed the trim first with Glidden Gripper since the previous antique white was oil-based paint. I then used the same semi-gloss latex paint over it that I used for the step risers.
The steps look AMAZING! I was so inspired by your DIY project, I just finished ripping the carpet off of the first 5 stairs and will finish tomorrow!!!
I wanted to ask you whether you stained your bannister. From your pictures, it looks like the bannister is darker in the last pictures than it is in the first pictures.
If you did, could you explain how you did it…thanks so much :) And again, you did an awesome job…they are gorgeous.
Hi Theresa – I left the banister as it was. The color difference you see in the photos is just the lighting of each photo. I did paint the spindles though. They used to be off white. I painted them white.
I would like to do this to my stairs as well and I just had a question for you: I noticed that there was some paint on the treads of the stairs and I was curious if you took the paint off first or if you stained over it. I have paint on mine as well and I’m not sure how to go about it. I would love if you could email me back with your thoughts!
Hi Amanda – If you want to stain the steps, then you have to remove the paint otherwise the stain would look uneven and get not take over the painted sections. We sanded each step to remove the paint first, then stained. I used paint on the risers so the didn’t have to be sanded.
Thank you for responding so quickly Diane! You are a great help! I personally just refinished my wood floors and I can’t wait to do the stairs to match! Did you sand it all by hand or did you use a sander? If a sander, what kind?
Hi Amanda –
We used a small hand sander, one that had a pointed tip so we could get into the tight areas around the balusters. We used 60 grit sandpaper at first, then, 100 and then 220 to smooth.
Hi there .. the steps look fantastic!!
Did you poly the white kick plate as well?
I’m looking at doing my stairs and wasn’t sure if it was necessary in order to keep the white prestine.
Thanks Alex – I didn’t use poly over the white paint on the risers. Semi-gloss paint has a shine and is easy to wipe down if smudges appear. I did the steps about 2 1/2 years ago and the risers still look fine. I have been able to wipe away any dirt that has gotten on them with soap and water.
Hi Diane. Awesome stairs. We ripped up all the carpet on our stairs to be pleasantly surprised with pine, we’ve been told by several people that we can’t stain our pine stairs because there’s too many imperfections. They recommend painting them. Do you think the products you used would help? Thank you!
Hi Jess – I was told the same thing, but proved the naysayers wrong. My pine stairs were full of imperfections, knots and staple holes. We sanded them to smooth, and used the dark stain to hide the knots. They came out great. I am soooooo happy that we did it. If you are on the fence about it, do one step with stain and poly to see how it looks. If you don’t like it, you can paint over it. Painted steps with white risers look very nice too.
What did you use to fill the holes left by the staples before staining?
Hi Libby – I didn’t fill the holes, I sanded them smooth to lessen them. Once the dark stain was on, the staple holes that were still visible kind of blended in. They look like dark swirls in the wood.
If you fill the holes with any kind of wood filler, they will stand out once you stain the steps. The wood filler will not take the stain in the same way as the wood on the steps. If you want to paint the steps, then filling the holes with wood filler is OK.
We have an oak railing and pine steps where the treads and riser were already painted white by the previous owners. We don’t want to go through the process of sanding down to the pine, but would rather paint the steps again. It was suggested for the treads that we use Benjamin Moore floor and patio white and mix it with any brown color Benjamin Moore paint we wanted to use. We have no idea what color treads would look great with the oak banister and white risers. It also doesn’t have to be BM paint. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
We are still loving our stairs. It has been over a year now, and they still look great. We get so many positive comments when people see them.
It’s a very nice job, I must say. Looks like a $2000 staircase to me, instead of a $50 one :)
Something I might try once.. thanks for all the tips and the inspiration!
Your description is so easy to follow and understand! Thank you! My problem is we have a landing that curves about 10 stairs up. Probably around 3′ x 4′ but odd shaped. It is plywood and the stairs are nice hardwood. Any thoughts or suggestions? I want to start ripping up carpet right this minute!!
Thank you again!
Hi Jeannine – Have you come up with an idea on how to make the plywood landing on your staircase look good? If it is nice plywood without too many holes and or knots, you could just stain it. Once the poly is over it, it may look fine. You could also buy a box of inexpensive vinyl wood flooring and cut it to fit to the shape. If you have not seen this type of vinyl recently, it looks like real wood. You can find it in many colors at the home improvement store.
hi! Your stairs are awesome…I wanted to do this too but I’m scared I might not do a very good job as you, but the good thing is I will try :) I have question what or how did you do to the carpet on top the last step going upstairs?
Hi Lorna – I left the carpet exactly how it was. The top step riser that I painted white is what meets the bullnose edge of the carpet on the 2nd floor. You can see the carpeted bullnose at the top of the staircase in the photos. Would love to have hardwood upstairs, but that won’t be happening for a long time. :-)
Hi Lorna – Your steps may be configured differently, but I just left the carpet on the second floor alone. I stopped ripping the carpet off after the top riser. The carpet is still on the bullnose on the second floor that meets the top riser. If you look at the top step in the photo in the post you can see it.
Beautiful job! We are working on our staircase, which has a similar look to yours. How did you sand in between the spindles? I’m worried if I don’t sand as well there as on the rest of the tread, the stain will look uneven.
Hi Emily –
To sand the stairs between the balusters I used an attachment on the palm sander we had that gets into tight places. I also used a hand sanding block that is made for tight spaces. It is made by 3M. You can find them in the sandpaper aisle. It looks kind of like an iron. It has one pointed end. Mine is purple and silver.
Great job Diane. I just tackled my stairs and i am staining now. I know you have to do every other stair so you can still use them, but did you do all the stain first then poly, or did you stain and poly the first half then the others. I’m just wondering if i can do all the stain first but not sure if i can walk on stain with no poly.
Hi Eric – I did all the stain first and let it dry. Once it is dry you can step on it. Just make sure before you put the poly on that no smudges, dust or dirt got on the stained surface – I wiped them off with a damp lint free rag before I applied the poly.
I absolutely LOVE the re-do!!! It inspired me to rip the carpet off of our stairs just this past week. Just to clarify, the minwax conditioner and stain is only for the tread, but is the polyurethane just to seal the tread or for the whole entire project including the white riser part as well? I’m looking forward to mimicking your staircase! Thanks so much for sharing.
Hi Michelle – I only used the stain pre-conditioner and the poly on the steps – not the painted risers. Since I used semi-gloss paint on the risers I did not need the poly, the risers on my steps have held up fine without it. You could use poly over the paint to help protect it – just make sure it is non-yellowing poly so that your white risers don’t change to yellow. Minwax Polycrylic is non-yellowing.
In the (unlikely – but still remotely possible) chance I attempt to tackle this project can you please provide your supplies list. I really want to remove the carpeting on the stairs.
Oops! Please excuse the typo: *fully* not “fulled”
I’m SO FREAKIN’ IMPRESSED I could SCREEEEEAM- well it’s why I am screaming (LOL) ! Here’s why, well first your work and the outcome are simply GOOOOOORGEOUS! But secondly I have been pricing this service (stair reno and floors) it’s $1800 for JUST the stairs. It looks like my stairs (currently fulled smoother in disgusting carpet) are commercial grade plywood- with NO bullnose (major bummer) so I appreciate all you had to do to earn such a great staircase.
KUDOS to YOU! – okay my throat hurts- I will stop screaming now ;)
The steps look gorgeous!! We are in the middle of the same project! I really love your stain color…. Did you mix the stain in the can together? If so, what ratio? 1:1? I’m really having a hard time getting my color right. Thanks!
Hi Leanne –
I mixed the two colors right in the can, but you could mix it in an empty coffee can or plastic tub. I started with a 1:1 mix, but kept mixing the color until I liked the way it looked against the darkest color wood tone from the floor in the room. I am not sure the exact ratio of the stain when I got it to the color I liked. The stain also looks much darker when you first apply it, when it dries it does lighten up slightly.
Hi there! I LOVE what you’ve done, my stairs have been bugging me for years too. I am nervous to bite off more then I can chew but you have inspired me. My question to you is how do I decide what color to use for the stain? My upstairs is all hardwood so it would need to match. I have had a few estimates on hiring someone to color match the stain but they want $2000. If I can do it myself I would prefer it. Thanks!
Hi Natasha –
I bought Minwax stains in a few different colors and some pine boards since my steps are wood. I experimented on the boards mixing different stains together to get the color I wanted. I wanted them darker and chose the darkest color of grain from the hardwood in my foyer. If you want to match your hardwood, try to find what color it is – does it have more red or gold tones in it. Buy a few small cans of stain to find the one that matches the best. Use the pre-conditioner that I show in my post. It helps make the stain go on nice and even. After you practice on some scrap boards – it will give you the confidence to do it on your steps.
Thanks so much…fingers crossed I don’t make too much of a mess :)
You have no idea how easy you just made my life!! This is exactly what I want to do and I have the exact same problem with the carpet. Thanks so much for the amazing tutorial!
I am going to redo my staircases as well — I am going to follow your instructions — this is great — thanks much for this wonderful post.
Hi I just removed our carpet and am starting my project today! Did you have to do any caulking? I have some gaps and not sure whether to use wood filler or caulk. I don’t think caulk will absorb the stain. Help!
Hi Ginger –
I did not have any caulking on my steps, just lots of staples and holes after removing all the staples. I would use wood filler, but make sure it is one that takes a stain. Some do not. The one I used to fill some bigger staple holes didn’t take the stain well on my steps. They are not big areas, so you don’t really notice them, but I know that there are some filers that take a stain better than others. I would ask at the home improvement store what brand name filler takes a stain.
The stairs look great! I just pulled up my carpet and tool all the tack strips and staples out. What did you do to get the white paint off the edges of the pine boards? I started sanding it off, but there has to be an easier way. Thanks for your help!
Hi Shaunna –
We sanded the paint off, my husband did most of it. You could put some paint stripper on the areas, let it sit and then remove it a stripping sponge. This may leave some stubborn spots of paint still on, but they will be easier to sand off since they had stripper on them.
I have been wanting to take the carpet off my stairs as well-
Thank you for the step by step (hahaha) instructions…
It’s so nice to share things with each other..
Have a wonderful day..
Beautiful job! I am thinking of taking on the same project in my house.
How were you able to contain all the dust from the sanding?
Thanks Linda – We used a palm sander with a dust bag attached. We still had dust to clean up, but the bag helped to keep it down.
Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up
what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the
whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for newbie blog writers?
I’d genuinely appreciate it.
Any suggestions for stairs that are pressboard under the carpet? :/
Does this make your stairs slippery at all?
At first we had to get used to the new feel, but they are not slippery. We did have to get used to hearing the sound of our footsteps, though :-)
Did you use wood putty over staple and nail holes or just sand the best you could??
Hi Jamie – I did not use wood putty since I was going to stain the steps. It does not take the stain well and you would see the patches. I – or I should say my husband, Ed sanded them until they were smooth and the holes blended into the surface a bit more. If painting the steps, you could use it since paint is opaque.
Followed your directions. This summer removed carpet from my stairs one night while my husband was at work. It took a while from start to finish because we had to order slats for the landing. But the final product was worth it. Would do this over again if I had to. Thanks for the detailed directions.
Hi Rebecca – Love when I hear success stories. I would do it again, too without any hesitation. Enjoy your new stairs.
Just moved to a new house…same pine stairs w/ bullnose and decorative moldings on side. I will be doing this project for sure. Thanks for the detailed process description. $40 and some sweat sounds better than $2,000.
Great job, now what i can’t figure out is how would you deal with the top step if you were to go from carpet to wood? since most hardwood is about .75″ tall, would you have to add stair nosing then the hardwood planks behind it? if that’s the case then the top tread would be taller/thicker than the rest, no? Any thoughts?
Hi Monika – My top landing has bullnose on it already. It is carpeted so I did not have to figure out a fix to join it with hardwood. I think you can buy a piece of bullnose. It would fit right on top of the 90 degree angle of the step and would be level with the hardwood. This is what was done on my basement steps. It was done by flooring contractors so I am not sure exactly what they used, but it is seamless.
Diane, I noticed in your photos that the wall side of your stairs has a board and trim. mine does not, just flat wall. I took up our carpet and I noticed the sheet rock is cut uneven and there are gaps. I don’t want to put trim up, down and around all of the 15 steps. Do they make a precut trim board with steps cut out? Any suggestions?
I LOVE the outcome! What color is the stain you used? I have the colors for mine, but trying to match the stain color I want. I don’t want a dark, but not a light either. I have old (small plank) hard wood floors and want to match that color.
Hi Amy – I tested a bunch of colors and did not like any of them, so I mixed Provincial with Early American to get the color I was after.
Thank you for making me believe I could do this myself! I had HIDEOUS mauve pink carpet on my steps and just assumed that I had plywood underneath. After seeing this I decided to check and I had the same bullnose steps! Everything is all sanded down (horrible mess and time consuming) but now I’m ready to fill the nail holes and then comes the stain. I’m so excited for this beautiful transformation I can hardly contain myself! Thanks for showing me the ropes!
Hi Jen – When I look at all the home improvement projects I have taken on, the staircase were the scariest to begin. It was hard starting, but like you, once I did and saw that they may just come out looking great, I got very excited. I knew if they didn’t we could just get carpet put over them again. I only wish I had done the project years ago. They are so easy to clean now, no more having to lug the vacuum and hoses up the steps :) You have the hard part done, you are almost there. Enjoy them!
Looks great BUT
I fell down a flight of stairs just like yours– slippery!
10 months recovery. Broken ankle, tibia, 6 screws and a metal plate.
I’ll never walk the same again.
Consider partial carpeting or something that will afford you traction.
Sorry to hear about your injury. Stairs can be very dangerous , no matter how they are finished – I have slipped and fallen several times on carpeted stairs! Go slow, pay attention, and ALWAYS use the handrail. That goes for kids, too.
After (excitedly) reading this post, I went and got a flat-head screwdriver out of the drawer and peeked at what was under the nasty carpets on our stairs. (Whatever was I thinking, having pale beige carpet installed on stairs?) We had our house built some 15 years ago, and we were here every day during construction (corrected lots of mistakes before it was too late, that way), but neither my husband nor I could remember what they used for treads. I fully expected to see chipboard, but lo and behold, mine looked exactly like yours, white over-spray and all. I am so excited, yet, at the same time, it is very hard, now, to actually make myself pull that carpet off of that first step. How did you find the courage? Thanks for this post!
Beautiful! We are currently thinking about a reasonably-priced makeover for our stairway. Seeing your before and after makes me want to go home and tear the carpeting off and start today!
Your stairs look great. Our house was a repo 13 years ago and we actually had all the carpet replaced even on the stairs after moving in. I have always regretted that decision. I have been wanting to pull up the carpet for that past 5 years. Seeing your result is the push I needed. I do believe I will start slowly. Maybe one step at a time. Thanks for sharing your DIY.
Beautiful!! I just bought a new built and have carpet on the stairs, yuk!! My banisters look exactly the same, hopefully the wood underneath is workable! Thanks for posting!
Gorgeous , thank you for the inspiration.
We have oak staircase that’s stained and just poly’d, it’s very yellowed thru the years and just needs a makeover. I got a quote to have it done professionally, way to expensive. But your suggestions , have motivated me to DIY.
I really dread stripping between the banisters, any suggestions on product or procedure? Greatly appreciate it.
Hi Liz – The stripping and sanding took the longest. We used a small palm sander with a pointy tip and a sanding block with heavy duty sandpaper on it. For the really stubborn stuff – use a chemical stripper. I just learned about one that has a fluffy thick consistency. It is called Smart Strip and doesn’t smell too bad. It is from Sherwin Williams. Another to try is called Citra-Strip. It is a lot of work – the sanding, the staining and poly goes very quickly. When you are all done – you will be rewarded for all your efforts.
How did you remove the “Overspray” of the white paint the builder left behind on the stair treads that were to be stained?
Hi Lon – We sanded it off, I should say my husband did. :) It is what took the most time, we used an electric hand sander with medium grit and then finished it up with fine sandpaper, so it would be smooth when we put the stain and poly on.
Sorry to arrive late at the party but I just found your site. OMG! This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do with my steps but I’ve been too afraid of what might be under the carpet. I have a question though. My upstairs is carpeted with the same as the steps. Did you leave the top/landing step carpeted and just start at the riser of the top step? If so, does the top look OK with the painted riser and carpeted beginning? Eventually I want wood upstairs but not ready to tackle that budget yet. Gotta go through your ideas. Love them! <3
Hi Adrianne –
I kept the carpet on the very top step. If you look closely at the photo of my foyer in this post you can see the carpet. It looks fine, I don’t even notice it. I would love wood upstairs,too – someday :) https://inmyownstyle.com/2013/05/a-little-bit-of-fyi-and-faqs.html
These are awesome. I am considering doing mine however I have a unique scenario in that the last 6 steps are oak but the rest (16 total) are pine. I will need to do something so that they are alike color wise. What do you recommend ?
Thank you so much for this tutorial! We’re in the middle of following your directions to do this to our stairs at the moment, and I have a question. We have the carpet and staples removed and have started sanding but their are some pretty noticeable little holes from where the staples were before. Did you use a wood filler or something to hide the staple holes? Thanks!
lol sorry…just noticed you JUST answered this question! Nevermind!
Hi, this is beautiful work! Great job! Did you use a sander, or did you sand it by hand? I have a hand sander…and the same soft pine wood.
Hi Natasha – We used a sander with medium grit sandpaper and lots of pressure – my hubby did most of it. :)
My husband was going to paint ours, but after seeing your success was motivated to do outs. He stripped, sanded, conditioned, stained, poly’d and the end result is stunning. Also, we were unsure what color we wanted to paint our foyer, stairway and hall walls until we saw yours. It is the perfect color for our home and the other room colors that open in to the foyer.
Hi Diane . You are so creative ! Love looking your stuff and i really feel great. I want to change our tiles flooring and I think I’m gonna start on my staircase .. Do you have advice ? Thanks.
Love your stairs! I am trying to convince my husband that we could do the same thing. How long did it take you to do this project from start to finish?
You’re steps look gorgeous!!! I am in the process of doing the exact same project so this was helpful. One question: I too have tons of staple marks on my stairs. How did you handle that? Did you use wood filler or did you just embrace the imperfection and let it go? :)
Thanks and good job!
Hi Chris – We sanded them down as best we could – that did help, but we do still have a few staple holes. If you are staining the steps – the wood filler doesn’t take the stain in the same way as the the wood, so we opted to embrace the imperfection. They are hardly noticeable after the stain and poly went on.
Thanks Diane! I’m with you regarding the wood putty. I never could make it work for me on other projects so I’m just going to go with the “natural” look. :) Thanks for your input!
Love the look of your new steps…my staircase looks identical and I hope to do something similar. I peeled back the carpet last night to reveal…white, painted bullnose hardwood treads. The bullnose and hardwood were welcome surprises but the white paint not so much. Do you think this means I should paint instead of stain like Thrifty Chick did? Any suggestions?
I totally love love love this…now just convincing my husband that I can do this and get rid of our “gorgeous” old teal carpet! Thank you for all your amazing ideas!
Great explanitory pictures and what a transformation. It is so easy to be scared of projects like these, but time and planning result in a job well done. PS LOVE the Cat – would love to see a cheeky paw print somewhere for a great talking point.
Hi diane. I love your beatiful stairs and want to go this way updating my stairs instead of the overfitting steps system that leaves you with an awkward too high step and too low higest step.
What made you decide on the color of the stain on your steps. Like you I also have a blond colored hardwood on the main floor. But your color on the steps works very well. Do you have hardwood upstairs too? That is the same color or the steps? At the moment I have the same tired carpet on the second floor as on the steps. So I want hardwood upstairs too. I thougyT I had to keep everything the same color as on the main floor, but maybe I can do a mediun stain like yours on the steps AND second floor too. My husband though. Prefers a dark color though but would that be too much of a difference even if I kept it the same stain color on the steps and upstairs. Would that look weird?
What are your thoughts?
Hi Cobie –
The hardwood on my 1st floor, is a medium color. The light adds a shine to them in the photos making them look lighter than they actually are. It is a lighter color than the steps, though. I went with using a darker stain on the steps for two reasons. The first was to hide the knots in the wood, since the steps were made of pine. The second was to match a piece of furniture I have in my foyer – it is dark wood. The floors are a medium wood color. Not blond, not dark. I felt the dark stain balanced the space. Dark accents on either side – steps and the furniture. Medium floor and banister. I do not have hardwood upstairs – still carpet.
As far as mixing colors, I don’t think I would mix light blond floors with dark steps – that would be too drastic of a color change. If you can go a bit lighter – something a bit closer to the floor downstairs it would look much better. Having them all dark or the same color will give your home a better visual flow.
Beautiful job Diane. Am in the process of redoing my steps. What sheen was your poly and was it water based? Did you use one or two coats of stain? I am following your instructions to the letter!
Looks great ! I have the exact same stairs. Question what did you do about the small staple holes in the risers ; did you fill them in with something ?
Hi Alex – I did not fill them in. Since I was going pretty dark with the stain and have not had luck getting filler to take stain well on previous projects – I opted to just sand the holes as smooth as we could get them to make them less visible.
Diane again you did a great job thank you so much for your response ; you have inspired me to follow in your footsteps !
I too, as some many others have noted, am inspired by your transformation. My question is how are the treads holding up after this past year; are they starting to show any wear?
When my daughter brought her dog, Kindii home to live with my husband and I, my first thought was – there goes the stairs, but I have been happily surprised. They have held up far better than I expected. The bottom step has some light scratches on it since Kindii swiftly pivots on it to get up and down. The rest of the steps have held up wonderfully. I am super happy. One of the best parts – cleaning them is a breeze. I use a Swiffer. It collects all the dust and dirt.
I did everything you told me to and I am so happy I did. Like you I dont know why I waited so long, I love my new look on the stairs, Thank you so much for all the info. Everyone said I couldnt do it. Now I just laugh at them. Again thanks!
Hi Elaine – Every time I go up and down mine, I still smile and it has been over a year since I did them. It has made a huge difference in the way my house looks and feels. Happy to hear you didn’t listen to the naysayers :)
Great makeover! What sheen of paint did you use for the white paint on the stairs? My husband wants to use high gloss white, but I think that might be too shiny? Thanks!
Hi Catherine – Semi-gloss. Tell him the more shine the more imperfections you will see.
Hi! I just got home from the store and was pricing treads since the guy who did my floors said he looked under the carpet on my stairs and said “nope can’t use those, they just have to be recarpeted”….so I assumed it was plywood! I never looked under myself and i just lifted rug on the bottom 3 and it looks like pine! I think you just saved me a bunch of money!! :):)
So inspiring! I think thia is just what I needed to give me a vote of confidence to tackle my stairs. Bravo.
Just found your blog on Pinterest and had to see your process for your staircase. I’m dying to do mine but I don’t have the nice wood under the carpet. We’ll have to add a step. Your stairs make me want to do mine NOW. You did a great job! Beautiful! ~Linda
I really want to attempt this project. One question: What did you do for the staple holes? Did you use wood putty? Did you have any cracks?
Hi Michelle –
We sanded the steps quite a bit. I say we as my husband had the strength to really smooth the wood and eliminate or smooth out the holes. There were still a few that were not smoothed over by the sanding and I left them alone. If you fill them you have to make sure the stain will take on the filler. If not – you will be left with spots of un-stained areas. Since the stain I used was dark – you don’t even notice the holes that were not smoothed over. They look like they are just part of the woods imperfections. I did not have any cracks.
It’s so beautiful now!! You should be so proud :) It’s looks just lovely!
Unbelievable!~ They looks gorgeous!
I also have the light carpet. That looks so professional. You did such a great job, I am going to try it. I have always had carpeting so I am a little nervous about having cold feet, lol.
My wife found this. She got inspired to give me a new project. Looks much better than the alternative I’ve been dreading…either using hardwood flooring or buying treads…both expensive.
Anyway, has anyone tried this on subfloor? I imagine it could work, but I doubt my subfloor is in good enough shape to try this.
amazing! I have wanted to do this since we moved in our house. Could you tell your steps were rounded under the carpet? Are they slick? I’m soo inspired.
When putting the stain on the stairs, did you have to sand the stairs to get the overspray off? Or were you able to stain to right over it? They look beautiful!
Thanks Janet – Yes, I or I should say he – my husband sanded all the over sprayed paint off the steps. If you don’t the stain will not take – it will look like a big blotch. My husband used a small sander to get into the corners and edges.
I am in the middle of doing my stairs. I have been sanding and sanding…. My treads have white paint on the sides where they painted the surrounding trim. In your pictures it looks like you did not take all of the paint off of your treads before staining. Does all of this paint have to be removed for the stain to look right? I am having a hard time getting it all off. Thanks!
I would like to do this same thing. But, how do you keep the steps from being slippery. My family runs around barefoot or in sock feet. I’m concerned about falling. Did you do something to the steps to keep them from being slippery?
Beautiful! I just paid $400 to have carpet removed and steps stained….and that does not include having the risers painted….that is something I have to do now!
Hi Leah- Hope the painting went or is going well. I bet they look beautiful!
As a general contractor and electrician I commend you on your work and thank you for the great idea for our own steps!
I love this!!! Going to tackle it this week! How did you separate the carpet from the upstairs?
Hi Becky. The second floor carpet ended right under the bullnose where it meets the top steps- riser. There was a separate piece of carpet going up the steps that ended right under that second floor bullnose. I just kept the carpet intact on the second floor. You can see it in the last two photos in the post.
I just love what you did! What a difference! You have inspired me to tackle my own staircase. The last bid we got was for $6000.00 to take off carpet, paint and refinish my staircase. I think I will give it a try! I’ll let you know how it goes!
Hi, it’s me again..
Here is a link to my youtube posting that shows my stair/floor reno project. This should give you a better idea of what I am faced with. I am having a hard time deciding what to use as a stair strip to go at the very top of the stairs (landing). The idea is to make the new flooring and the re-done stairs clean and professional looking.
Please send a reply after viewing my video:
Diane – This post caught my eye as soon as I found your blog. What a transformation! When we moved into our house the carpeted stairs were hideous. After six years of judicious vacuuming and cleaning, they are now merely ugly. The old light beige carpet was almost black at the edges by the wall! Doesn’t anybody clean the edges??? You have inspired me to finally give it a try. Fortunately, the lower stairs are open and painted white around the balisters. This also gives me more good news – the steps are bullnose because of this designe choice of the builder. Yipee!!
Thanks for the inspiration and how-to. Wish me luck!
Love the stairs so we took our carpet off. We do have that soft pine but our steps turn and where the landing is, they used a piece of subfloor-yuck. Does anyone have any suggestions what we can do to match it to pine steps????
Hi Joan – Not sure the size of your landing, but you may want to look at a veneer. Here is a link to one site: http://oakwoodveneer.com/veneer/pine.html
If you do a Google search for Pine Veneer you will probably find a veneer that matches your pine and will be the size you need. You would need to protect it with polyurethane just like the steps.
Those look fantastic…looks like what I’m going for. My big question is, how do take up the carpet on the stairs to get a look the quality of the wood underneath? And is it difficult to reattach that carpet if it’s not quality wood? Do you need a professional do that?
Thanks to anyone who can answer!
To see what my stairs looked like under the carpet, I carefully peeled back the carpet on the bottom step. It was pieced where the fist step ended, and the riser for the 2nd step started. I used an awl and a flat head screwdriver to gently pull it back. I did not remove the carpet- only peeled it back. Be careful as there are a ton of staples and carpet tack stripping. Once I saw that they were nice, I ripped the carpet off. If the steps were not nice, I would have just placed the carpet back in place and back over the carpet tack stripping. Use a hammer to make sure the carpet sticks back into the tack stripping.
I need help.
I’m replacing all the carpet throughout the entire house with hardwood flooring but the stairs I want to re-do them just the way you have with stain and paint. I need suggestions on what type of stair strip I should use at the very top of the stairs so that it blends in with the new hardwood flooring. Note: I do not want to put in a stair nose because the stairs already have a square bullnose/lip.
Is there carpet on the floor where the stairs lead or hardwood? Mine was carpeted and I left it in place.
Yes, carpet is everywhere and I want to remove all of it. I’m in the process of putting down hardwood on all floors except the stairs.
There will be hardwood on the floors. :) …Love your ideas by the way..
Gorgeous stairs, congrats. I plan to do this same project but am concerned about major scuffing on the painted white risers (we have pets and young kids). Can you kindly provide reviews on this issue after living with it for awhile? I am considering tiling the riser as a more durable alternative, but this would be more expensive and time consuming than paint. Or maybe I make a rule – no shoes on the stairs. Thanks!
My kids are grown, but I do have two dogs and a cat who constantly go up and down on them. I haven’t had any problems at all with the risers. They look very nice and I am still thrilled at how they came out. Perhaps if you use a very durable enamel or high gloss paint that you can wipe clean – might help if you think they are going to take a beating – the no shoes on the stairs or even when in the house rule is a good one :) You could try the paint and see how it holds up. If it takes a beating you can always tile over the paint.
Excellent advice, thank you! I’m so glad I found your blog.
Diane, I just finished my stairs, and they are simply gorgeous! I won’t lie – this project was tedious, and some days my body ached from sitting on the hard surface, hunched over pulling out staples and patching holes. But it was SO worth it! After a short break, I plan on moving forward with Phase 2: adding carsiding (wide beadboard) and ledge to the staircase walls, painted to match the risers and stringers. Thank you for all the useful advice you provided and for being my inspiration. I am just thrilled that I was able to do this! I love your blog!
It’s beautiful !!! I hope my staircase in the foyer will turn out the same as yours or even better than I expected. My husband and I hire somebody to do this job, for about $1200.00. We’ll end up blaming each other if we did it ourselves and it did not turn out right. In addition to that, he does not have that much patience doing this time consuming kind of work. Do you guys think I’m paying too much? I would like to send you the picture of before and after.
I am new to your blog, and LOVING your tips. I have been hating the carpet on my steps but was not sure if we would think plain wood would feel too ‘cold’, but I love the way they look.
I have a question for you: My steps have a ‘landing’ separating the staircase. I’m wondering how that would look stained like the steps or would it look funny? I know keeping it carpet would look worse. maybe with a side table on the landing it wouldn’t look so bad.
Not sure how brave I am to try this.
The stairs are beautiful. What if underneath your carpet is plywood and no bull nose (over lap)? I desparately want to redo mine.
Thank you for whatever suggestions you have.
I have seen it done with square edge steps, too – the bullnose does give it a more polished feel – but if the plywood on your steps is in good condition without not too many knots – you may not even notice that the edge is square not rounded. If I can find the site where I saw the steps I will forward the link to you.
I am wondering…I have an overhang on my steps, but it is not rounded. (Currently under carpet.) Any ideas on what to do in this situation? Just let them be squared? Or is that dangerous/ugly/all of the above? The wood seems pretty solid…
I have seen steps without a bullnose edge refinished and they look fine. The overall impression of stained steps and white risers will be achieved no matter what the edge is like. You may not even notice it after they are done. If they are in good shape I would just let them be square.
LOVE the new steps! I have almost the exact same carpeting on our steps that lead to our basement level. They too are fine “as is” ….we usually take our shoes off when coming indoors so they don’t get dirty very often. BUT, oh how I would love to remove the carpet so I could just sweep the dirt down to the bottom and vacuum it up off the floor itself. I wouldn’t have to use all the attachments for the vacuum to do the steps. It would be so time-saving! And we could come in from outside with work shoes on…like on those days doing messy, spring clean-up!…and not have to take off our shoes! At the bottom we could put a small rug on the area before the tile starts near the bathroom. (That would come in very handy at times…if you know what I mean. –wink, wink!)
Again beautiful stairs! Never underestimate plain old pine!
Your stairs turned out awesome and they were totally worth all of the hard work you put into them. Thanks for sharing your details…. it sounds like a project more homeowners should tackle… the results are so worth it! I am sure you will enjoy them each and every time you go up or down!
Okay, I told you I have been inspired. Have a look for yourself.
Oh wow, those turned out beautiful! I would love to do this to our. I don’t have any over hang on our steps. They just sort of waterfall down. You did a great job!
The stairs look fabulous; I’ve just started on mine & have a quick question. I can’t find the Zinsser Bullseye polyurethane anywhere (and I live in the Atlanta area); have tried Home Depot, True Value Hardware & Ace hardware. They all carry Zinssser products but not this particular one. Do you have an alternative to recommend?
Many thanks — Mary
It looks fantastic! I’ve been dying to do this with our stairs and you’re pushing me in the right direction. :) Quick question, though… From the pictures it looks like you still have carpet upstairs. How did you transition from the new steps to the old carpet? Did you have to cut and reattach anything?
Gorgeous! That looks so great! Also looks like a lot of hard work- good job : )
OMG Diane — What a fantastic makeover! Absolutely stunning! It completely changes the entire look of the hall away! You did such a great job!
I love this! (I found you via Thrifty Decor Chick). One question: do you notice a big difference in the amount of noise? I’ve got a heavy footed husband, two school age kids, and two cats. I’m wondering if the aesthetic value would override the noise.
My husband initally didn’t like the way it sounded when we walked up and down right after we took the carpet off. We were so used to no sound, perhaps a creak or two. Now we are used to it and the aesthetic value far outweighs the noise factor for us. If you are on the fence, perhaps you can add sisal tread runners. They look fresh and modern, but add a no-slip cushioning. Tracie over at Cleverly Inspired just did this because her dog was having trouble navigating the new steps.
Look at you! Hanging out with TDC!!! Did your blog blow up today??? Mine did when she spotlighted me a couple of days ago. Again a great job!
Wow..they look great. I had no clue about that stuff that makes the pine take the stain better. I redid mine a few yrs back but my steps did not have the curved fronts, then there was the stain issue….so I ended up putting peel and stick flooring that came in strips and looked like wood….but I love this.
Saw you on Thrifty Decor Chick … your stair makeover is amazing. I really want to do this in my house but haven’t yet convinced my husband. Are the stairs slippery? And has the stain held up well or does it look worn as the kids trample up and down?
Your stairs are Beautiful!! I have been wanting to try this but my husband thinks our three kids would slip down the stairs. And with poly? Do they seem slippery? I would love to convince my husband that the kids won’t fall:)
I just love love love your staircase! It just looks so wonderful. Great job! Popping over from TDC!!
That is so wonderful! Great job! We’ve pulled carpet off our stairs before and it was a pain but so worth it in the end!
I know I’ve seen these re-do’s everywhere lately, and I love them each time, but seriously your explanations, and tutorial, is SO specific and detailed. I literally at each step was like “Oh, I could do that!”. Thank you thank you! If I can talk my husband into letting me take on this project, I’ll be sure to link back to you!
Oh my goodness, I just stumbled across your blog today and fell in love with your staircase! you did an awesome job, it looks really good. I have been trying to find the courage to do that to mine and you have made it look like it could actually be done! Thank you so much for sharing!
What is the shade of your walls? I am doing alabaster white in my house too and haven’t picked a wall color yet. Thanks!
Stairs look great!
The paint color on the walls in my foyer is one of the Ben Moore Pottery Barn colors called Edgecomb Gray # HC-173. I love Alabaster for the trim – it is the perfect go between color that is not too white white or off white. Happy painting!
How beautiful!!!! I have never used frog tape before..I’m going to have to get some of that…
I’m pretty sure this is the best quality diy step-staining I’ve seen in blogland. The stain color is truly gorgeous!
wow, this is amazing! So envious of your beautiful new staircase! ;)
I’d do this in a heartbeat, but have heard from other bloggers where the builder did a slapdash kinda job, that there were gaps between the risers and stair treads. I have a feeling that would be my luck. Yours were very nicely done even with carpet covering them!
Found you through Tuesday’s Treasures!
Wow, thank you for the inspiration! They are lovely. I am so going to tackle my own ugly carpeted steps. Thanks again!
Found your blog from the HoH hookup. LOVE the stair make-over!! It turned out absolutely perfect! Congratulations!!!
Beautiful, and your cat is awesome!
that. is. awesome!! We did the same thing to our stairs; when we moved in, they had yukky carpet. So much better now!
THANK YOU – I just checked my stairs and under the worn out carpet is bullnose treads – I showed my husband and now we are giddy to do this ourselves…
They look great ! I”m jealous……… in the middle of doing mine now but I have yucky stairs under my carpet so I had to buy treads.
Wow! I am so impressed. The stairs look beautiful. Your hard work paid
Your stair case looks a hundred times better and I love your choice of stain color. Very nice.
What a great revamp of the staircase! Absolutely love it! Well done.
The stairs are gorgeous and really updated your house! Congrats, I know you have to love it!
They are beautiful! I’m planning to do mine this month too, along with changing the balusters to wrought iron.
So cute! I will be featuring your project this Thursday at my weekly link party, Hookin Up with HoH #34.
I’m letting you know in advance as I’ll be out of town during the party and will be unable to notify you on Thursday.
Please feel free to stop by and grab a button on Thursday!
~Allison @ House of Hepworths
Well done and lovely!! What a difference with sooo little money invested. Worth the the time for sure.
Wonderful and very inspiring… I like the idea of having the white only on the “counter step” (don’t know the English word, but you get me, don’t you?… please say yes!). It seems the staircase looks “happier”.
Oh my goodness… totally stunning beyond words! I actually can’t believe that’s the same wood!
Amazing, Diane! Well done!
Wow, Great job! It looks amazing. You should link up at DIY Thrifty Thursday @ http://www.thrifty101.blogspot.com
Phenomenal! What a lot of work, but oh-so worth it! You made me giggle with Trax! I can imagine. When I had kittens, I made a wedding dress. 9 yards of satin that rustled every time it moved. It was just too much for the kitties! I finally resorted to cutting the dress out in a small bedroom with the door shut rather than the large living room floor. The whole time I could see tiny little paws poking under the door!
Would love for you to drop by and link up to Passion for Paint this weekend.
oh diane – they look beautiful! my steps can’t wait for you to come over and work your magic! i even have 2 cats to keep you company!!!! :)
I found your site last night through Funky Junk Interiors and loved your stairs. Our stairs look alike (well they did) with the carpet. I believe your last words were GO DO IT! Well, since my husband was out of the house I looked at my son and said “we can do this” and so, we started. It has been a long time since I have been that excited! We got the carpet off of three stairs last night! I just keep seeing your end result! I am inspired! But, you should have seem my husbands face when he got home….I CAN DO IT! Thanks so much for sharing!
This looks like it was extremely time consuming and maybe took LOTS of patience… the result is so worth it, it looks fabulous!!
Wow! You are truly amazing and incredibly talented. I’m so glad you are back. It was only a week of you not blogging, but I noticed, and I missed you. I’m happy to hear that you are on your way to simplifing things and most importantly, making yourself happy.
Hi there- these are absolutely gorgeous!!!! I love how your stairs came out- WELL DONE!!! :)
I know that was hard work! They look great ~
AWESOME! Man, that’s some project, though. I may just have to wait till my kids are in college. ;)
I did wait till my kids were in college – one is already out. :) Wish I had done it sooner as they look so much better. I know my girls would have liked them better, too.
What an amazing transformation! Thank you for sharing! It is an inspiration to see people tackle remodel jobs that seem like so much work! You make it look easy!
WOW! What a beautiful job! Simply stunning!
I am so EXCITED your stairs look just like mine with the carpet around the edge and same dingy color (no offense) and I just pulled up a carpet piece and woohoo I have the same stairs. I hope mine can look as amazing as yours. I want to start tonight…but it is almost midnight :( Great job!!!
I want to start tonight too!! :)
Beautiful….now I want to do mine!
This looks magnificent-what a beautiful staircase-nice job-I’m your newest follower-Come by to visit-Claire
Wow! What a lot of work…but what a transformation. I love the way it looks and I love the way pine “feels” underfoot~if that makes sense…it is just a softer walk.
We have pulled out thousands of staples over the years preparing areas to be refinished and painted. I know your pain!!! But OH! It was SO worth it-your job is perfect! Hugs-Diana
Congratulations on your stairway transformation! I did basically the same thing in the last house I owned, except the treads were oak. There were thousands of staples holding the old dirty carpet (from the former house owner) in place. Before selling the house 12 years later, I repainted the risers to give them a fresh look.
Your steps are just gorgeous!!! What a beautiful transformation. Great job!
Beautiful, just beautiful!! We had a very similar project with the stairs and floors. I posted on my blog decoratingtheville.blogspot.com
Thanks for sharing!
Your patience paid off! That wood looks so beautiful!
GORGEOUS INDEED!!! So beautiful and I know it is worth all the trouble and cat tracking you had to do!
This is stunning!
OMGosh, I totally love it!! It reminds me of our staircase in the home we just bought….now you have my wheels turning!! lol
Oh. MY!!!!! They look wonderful. We have some steps here that need some TLC and I just hope when I tackle them it will be even half as gorgeous as yours.
you did such a great job and made it look really easy (from where I’m sitting), but I KNOW it was a whole lot of hard work. I’ve done some demolition projects in my house before and remember well! But it is beautiful and makes your home appear so fresh and young! Just like a facelift for the home. :)
Your stairs look fabulous!!! I bought all the supplies yesterday, and am sitting here contemplating whether or not I really want to take on this massive of a project. We have a split level foyer AND a full staircase that goes to the third floor. Sooo many stairs.
Love them! OH please….come do this for me!!! LOL
We have “out door” stairs as our inside entryway stairs, our “main” level is one floor up (so we can enjoy the view of the valley outside our home).
We need to rip out the construction grade 2X6’s (2 for each step) and replace with a bull-nose piece. Then repair, paint, stain, etc.
we haven’t even started……..thanks for the inspiration!
Heidi Be Happy Today!
Amazing. What a find to see those lovely rounded steps under that carpet. I wonder what lays under my ugly carpet.. hmmm.
I wish I had looked years ago, but I always assumed it would be plain boards. Take a peek, you may be surprised.
What a gorgeous transformation! You did a tremendous job. I love it!
I LOVE this transformation. Stunning and Beautiful! I’d love to do this in my own home! Maybe one of these days!
Gorgeous! How did you get them cleaned up enough for stain? I had the exact same type of stairs under my carpet I they were so painted and dinged up that I just went ahead and painted them white. Now they are a mess all the time. I need to repaint and poly and hope for the best or get a runner.
My husband and I took turns sanding to get them smooth and paint free. There are a few place where a bit of paint was set deep into the wood that we could not remove. The stain covered it a bit, but when you look at the steps as a whole you don’t notice the imperfections.
Hi Diane, What a beautiful job you did, just amazing. I have the same stairs with the rug and have wanted to have this done but I know it would be expensive. I would love to do it myself but thought it was way too big of a job. You showed me it is possible. I have to ask with the sanding did you do it by hand or with a electric sander? You should be very proud of yourself, you go girl!
We had steps that were too much of a mess to stain too! We went with a glossy black for the steps and white risers- they turned out very classy looking. I think the glossy paint hold up a lot better than the matte, we’ve had to re-touch the white risers but not the black after 2.5 years.
I have thought of doing this, and I must say your stairs are looking amazing! Great job and great tips!
Diane, wow wow wow those are gorgeous!! You had some great steps to work with. What a great color & look. You rock!!
Beautiful! Well worth the effort. You have inspired me to do mine, thanks.
OMG they are GORGEOUS!!!!! I LOVE the stain you chose….going to share on FB!!! Would you mind uploading a pic on my fb fan page??? Inspire others to do the same project….LOVE them! Congrats and great job!!!
What a lot of work…that totally paid off! It looks really fabulous. And I’m so happy to hear of the life changes you’ve recently made…wtg!
What a huge amount of work…but it paid off. It looks beautiful! I’m also glad you’re so happy with the life choices you’ve recently made. :)
They’re beautiful, Diane. Fresh, clean, updated, pretty… Great job!
What a glorious makeover. I may have to tackle this some day. It looks so much better than the carpet. Lots of hard work, but so worth it. Right now I think the carpet may be safer for my little grand children.
Wow! They look absolutely amazing and elegant! I can tell how much work you must have put into that project and it looks like it was worth it! Love it!
This turned out so beautifully. Nice job! La
oh my they did come out beautiful…..and my gosh your cat is huge!
Simply beautiful and I truely admire the leap of faith you are taking!
Your stairs look beautiful, Diane! We have the same type of wood on our stairs and we pulled off our carpet several years ago. I would love to do this. I think it looks so good especially with the white risers, but as we hope to move this year I’m not taking on any major projects.
WOW ~ the stairway turned out FABULOUS! Love it ;-)
Those stairs are beautiful! I know it was a job because I had a stair case in another home that I made over. Such a great transformation.
Your stairway looks fabulous. You were so right when you said it looks crisp, that is the perfect way to describe the look. I love the dark stain against the white.
Well – my mind is trying to absorb all of this. To these stairs were just waiting for the right set of hands to manipulate them into something gorgeous. You tutorial is marvelous, although I can’t figure out the purpose of the white spray paint. I can’t imagine that you used the spray paint on the balusters, yet, with your skills, I wouldn’t put anything past you. You’ve give me great inspiration and even better — a picture to show my husband so that he will be equally inspired. Congratulations on a beautiful staircase. It’s beautiful.
The spray paint is what the builder did when he was building the house. They sprayed the balusters and the decorative trim pieces under the side of each step white. You can see it on the other side of the steps also against the wall. Then they put the carpet on. When I removed the carpet the white overspray was on the steps. I had to remove it with lots of sandpaper!
Wow Diane that is stunning!! It looks so fresh and bright now. I think the carpet must of been sucking up the light, who would of known! Great job, it looks fantasic.
Adore this!!!! You did such a great job! Beautiful!
The stairs look mah-velous! Why did you wait so long??? 8-) And add me to those saying “atta girl” to following your dream!
Wow what a project! I think your husband owes you are really special dinner out! Fantastic job, really shines!
Wow! What a beautiful transformation. What a difference!