Since moving into our house, we have done so many projects. When we bought our home, we knew we wanted to make a lot of changes. We got a lot of projects done when we first moved in, but things slowed down when we had our first child. Now that our kids are older, it is easier to find the time to work on house projects.
One of the things that had been bugging me for a while was our staircase. We knew when we moved in, that we would be redoing everything. I love this staircase, so it was just a matter of updating it! The stairs had old carpeting on it, the railings were beat up. The railings and stringers were stained a dark brown color, so between that and the carpet, the stairs felt old, dated, and dark.
The first step to redoing the staircase was to remove the old carpeting.
For this, I needed:
~ a mask (this is a dusty, dirty job)
~ utility knife
~ chisel or skinny crowbar for pulling up carpet strips
~ trash bags and/or large trash can
~ small pliers
The first step is to simply start pulling up the carpet. This was a very messy job, as the carpeting was old, and the carpet pad was completely worn out and worn down. Combined with accumulated dirt, the dirt and dust under the carpet was pretty bad.
As you pull up the carpet, watch for carpet strips. These are strips of wood with very sharp carpet tacks sticking up. I used a hammer to gently hammer a chisel under the edge and then pull up the strips.
For longer pieces of carpet, I ended up using the utility knife to cut the carpet every 4 stairs or so. The carpet wasn’t actually one continuous piece for all 14 stairs, which made it easier for me when I would come to a section already cut.
Once all the carpet was removed, I vacuumed. This project generated a lot of dust, sand, dirt, etc. The previous owners had dogs and cats, and we have cats, so it was a relief to say good riddance to the carpeting and do a thorough vacuuming.
Next, I made sure I had removed all the carpet strips, and used needle nose pliers to remove all the carpet staples. (You can also see a rusty staple in this photo, that had to be removed as well).
Many of the staples were are under the stair nose to help hold the carpet in place where there is no carpet strip. There were many that were broken, rusted, etc. – so I had to carefully inspect each stair.
Lastly, I sanded, using a palm sander and a Ryobi sander. There was so much dried spackle on the stairs, rough patches, and dark stain that had spilled over from the stringers. Plus, the previous owners had large dogs (Great Danes), and there were so many scratches and gouges in everything.
I sanded everything here – the stringers, the stairs, and the risers. I wore a mask so as not to breathe in all the dirt and dust, or the old stain.
Sanding was a tedious job, especially to remove the old, dark stain. I would often find the stain gumming up on the sanding pads. (I also entirely removed the molding along the edges, to be replaced).
I did not sand everything perfectly. While I was originally going to refinish the stairs, the plan was always to repaint the stringers a nice white color.
Here is how it looked after sanding:
Now, my original plan was to refinish the stairs with a coat of polyurethane. However, once I pulled up the carpet, we were disappointed to see pine. The more we worked on the stairs, the more we realized it was a very cheap pine, with lots of damages – holes, cracks, construction marks, even nails and screws driven through the wood.
The original plan was to try to salvage it, which was not possible. Then we decided on re-carpeting. And finally decided on painting it, at least for an interim time period.
Read about the rest of the project in my other blog posts.
Read Part II: Railings.
Read Part III: Painting the Stairs.
Want a sneak peek of the final results?
You guys did an awesome job!
What a transformation! DIY home projects are so satisfying.
Your stairs looks amazing! I know that must have been a lot of work but you killed it!
Such a nice job and I live in an older house and my stairs need to be refinished. I do not think I could do as nice a job as you did, congrats!
I will keep this in mind. We do have carpet on the stairs that eventually we want removed. Your stairs look fabulous!
Oh wow! I can’t believe you did this yourself!!!! We just hired people to do this for us! haha!
wow!! great job too.. and i am not sure i would attempt this diy..
Your stairs look great! You did an amazing job. I hate pulling out all the little nails.
Oh wow! What a cool project. I bet it’s very labor intensive but so worth it!
This is such an amazing transformation. I love the way your stairs turned out..
Wow what a great makeover! You did such a wonderful job!
It’s already gorgeous,I can’t wait for the final result.
Wow! I am so excited to see the result! We are planning to have a staircase makeover, too!
Y’all did an amazing job transforming the stairs! I love diy projects.
I love the finished result! The white staircase looks amazing!
I love that you did this yourself! It came out great.
I’m so glad you posted about your experience, because this is one project I’ve been avoiding in this house. We’re down to carpet on just the stairs, upstairs hallway, and one bedroom. I’m not a fan of kids and carpet. I know this spring the time has come and we need to get it done!
Congrats! That was a lot of work to complete on your own. It’s true..you never know what is hidden underneath the carpet! The painted white stairs look great!
This is an amazing transformation. We have carpet on our stairs. I plan on removing it and I’m anxious to see if there is useable wood underneath. I love having this option in my back pocket.
Wow, hands up to your hard work and creativity on your stairs makeover. It’s beautiful and I love it!.
The white paint definitely made a big difference. It’s brighter and looks so clean. Great job! I painted hubby’s bookshelf white and I love it.
Wow what an amazing job y’all did
Wow, it looks really nice. I love it! I love the way it turned out.
You did an amazing job on this! I love how they turned out!
Oooh I want to do some DIY Staircase Makeover, too! I am so excited to see the outcome of what you are doing!
You did such a great job with this project. I have always been bothered by those old carpets on stairs, while I love the carpet so I don’t slip on hardwood, they can get really roughed up over the years.
wow! Congratulations! You did such an amazing job! I am so impressed!
That looks amazing! You are impressive!
These look great! DIY projects are fun but hard and you guys did great!
Wow you did a great job on that staircase. I wish I have same patience as your I’ve been wanted to do some DIY but its hard rightnow with a baby,
I admire your patience and creativity in doing this staircase makeover. I love the result, it is so beautiful!
You did wonderful job. I don’t know I have this patience to change those nails and carpet. Perfect.
Oh wow this came out beautifully! Great job.
This is an awesome DIY!! Love your blog!
wow.. I think you did an amazing job! The staircase looks fantastic now.
Um wow! How satisfying it must have been removing that carpet! I can’t wait to see the finished look.
Oh wow what an amazing transformation. I love how it turned out, it looks so good!
It’s hard for me to do all these D.I.Y makeovers. I’ll share this article with my hubby to handle this stuff 🙂
You did great! This is something that we NEED to do! I hate carpet! I ripped it all up and put hardwoods downstairs. Upstairs is next!
I started with ths post and then checked out your final look in the other post and wow what a transformation. I t looks amazing!!!
This is beautiful! I have always wanted to do this but im afraid to pull the trigger!! Great work!
Years ago we did this to our stairs, we still haven’t finished the project though lol Hopefully this will be the inspiration my husband needs.
Wow! That’s looks amazing and you made it sound so easy to do. Great job 🙂
Wow – even if it’s your just-for-now plan, I still think it looks great! I had the exact same thought about our carpeted stairs when we bought our house 10 yrs ago – but we soon discovered ours had pine underneath, too, so that’s about the ONLY original carpet left in the house by now. But you are right, ripping up carpeting – though dusty and dirty – is SUCH a fun and satisfying job, plus you can often save a lot on new carpet installs if you do this prep step thoroughly (including the tack strips and staples, as you noted).
We had to makeover our stairs, we are actually still in the process! It’s an undertaking for sure. Love how yours turned out.
We got rid of our carpet on the stairs too. It makes such a huge difference!
You did an amazing job! I really like the transformation, it looks so much brighter and cleaner. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
That looks like it was a very tough and messy job for sure. That is a shame about the wood, but you did an amazing job and the stairs look amazing I love the gray and white together. It looks so much brighter and cleaner than the carpet and stain did.
What a massive improvement! Getting rid of carpet is such a tough job but so worth it in the end.
I think your stairs turned out beautifully! I definitely love wood stairs over carpet.
I love that they work so well, and I really love how environmentally friendly they are.