DIY Staircase Update

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Before:

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After:

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Just check out this before and after of our stair case! Amazing transformation right?! I absolutely LOVE IT and cannot believe I did this all myself. ūüė≥¬†Guess what that means?? You can do it too! I won’t lie to you…there were a few moments in which I thought, “Oh shit what the hell did I get myself into?!” I did it though and it turned out so beautiful and really updated the space.

The transformation started with the board and batten wall which you can find that DIY post by searching “board and batten” on the site. After that I wasn’t sure I was ready to start on the rest of it yet and one day I just couldn’t wait any longer! I started ripping out the carpet and there was no turning back from there! Did I mention I didn’t even tell my husband I was starting this project??? Oops :). Good thing he loves how it looks! I do recommend at least telling your significant other before starting this kind of DIY project and it would probably be much easier with 2 people but it’s totally doable with one! So lets get to the tutorial!

Materials needed:

  • Crow Bar
  • hammer
  • pliers
  • Saw (I used a circular, jigsaw and miter saw)
  • Nail Gun (my favorite!)
  • Kreg Jig
  • 2″ and 1 1/2″finishing nails
  • Stair Treads and end nose pieces if you have open stairs on the side (Stairtek Unfinished Red Oak Retread)
  • risers (I used 1×8 primed boards and ripped them down to size)
  • Construction grade adhesive
  • Paint
  • Stain
  • Wood Filler
  • Painters Tape
  • Drill
  • Newel Post¬†Stair Parts Newel Post from Home Depot
  • Balusters
  • Handrail and Rosette

Step 1: Ripping out existing carpet – this is pretty self explanatory. Just start tearing that carpet out. I started at the bottom of the stairs. I wanted to get the hardest part done first so if I didn’t get this finished before the baby makes her debut then at least this part would be done! To rip it out I just used my hands and then used the crow bar to pop up the nail boards and pop out the staples. For any staples that didn’t come out easily I just used my pliers to pull them the rest of the way out. I did a few steps at a time because I was doing this myself in down time between playing with my 3 year old. If you can do it all at once go ahead and get this step out of the way!

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Step 2: Removing old newel post and balusters. I was nervous to do this. This made it all so real! I used my jig saw to cut through the balusters so I could easily pull them out. I also cut through the hand rail near the newel post so I could easily remove the hand rail and rosette. The hardest part was removing the newel post. This was built all the way into the steps and nailed into my riser at the bottom step. It took a lot of wiggling and prying with the crow bar but I finally got it popped out!

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Step 3: Staining and Measuring out your treads and risers. I wanted to stain and finish the treads before putting them on. I used the Retro Tread that you can lay right over your existing stair tread. I thought this would be the easiest route to go. A little bit more expensive but it would also save time (which is priceless for me!).

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First, I stained the treads with this stain and I love it! It was my first time using a gel stain but it went on beautifully! Color matches my flooring perfectly too. When cutting your treads to size use painter’s tape when you cut. Put it over the spot where your saw will make the cut and it will help to make a super clean cut with no splintering. After they were stained I put on polyurethane¬†semi gloss protectant. This was an overnight drying process before I could do anything else.

Step 4: Installing the treads and Risers. First you are going to install the riser. I had a tough time with this at first. On the bottom step the 1×8 size worked perfectly and same on the second and third steps but then when I got to the 4th it was too long! AHH! At that point I had to start ripping the risers down to about 7″ so they would be a perfect fit. Thankfully my Dad showed me how to use my circular saw and rip guide so this was easy peasy!

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Installing the risers was very simple. Just put on your construction grade adhesive. I got some advice from a contractor to apply this very generously to the area. I also used my Ryobi AirStrike nail gun and 2″ finishing nails to help hold them in place. You want to do one step at a time. So once you get the riser on then you add the stair tread and it slides right in place over top. Again, use the construction grade adhesive and apply very generously to the area. I used weights to help hold it down while it dried and also used nails to help set it in place. I then covered the nail holes with wood filler and stained them and you can’t even see the holes. Then you just repeat all the way up the steps! I have only gotten the first 5 steps done so far but the rest of the steps will be very easy! Just rip up the carpet, take out all the staples/nails, cut treads/risers to fit and install!

Step 5: Installing newel post. This scared me but they make it so darn easy for you to do now! I knew that I wanted the post to be white so it didn’t matter to me what kind of wood I used. ¬†The treads¬†I used are red oak but the post I got was poplar because it would be painted so it didn’t really matter. Plus this post only cost me $88 at Home Depot!! I also bought this super simple install kit and it was very easy. I had to cut the post down to the right size I wanted. Then I lined it up on the bottom step where I wanted it and started drilling the holes for the hardware to attach. I recommend using your own screws for this. The screws that came with the post install kit are awful! They strip very easily and don’t go in very well. I attached the hardware to the step first and then the newel post and it is very sturdy! Then you just nail in the moulding around the bottom and you can’t even see the brackets that hold the post in place.

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Then I taped it off and painted it the same white as the board and batten and trim (Behr Bleached Linen).

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Step 6: Finishing the sides of the steps with end nosing and trim. This step took me forever to figure out a solution to. The drywall was all cut down and there were gaps I needed to figure out how to cover this up and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I had to sleep on this a few nights to decide what to do.¬†I found some red oak 1/2″x3″x2′ pieces at Home Depot and they were only about $4 a piece! I only needed 3 of them to make all the cuts I needed. So I attached the nosing pieces that matched the stair treads with my nail gun and then started measuring and cutting the trim pieces to go around them. You may not even need to worry about this step if you don’t have this problem. I was just so happy to have figured out this solution!

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Step 7: Installing balusters, rosette and hand rail. For the balusters I chose to go with square wood and paint them white with a contrasting hand rail stained the same color as the stairs. I used 12 balusters and they are all about 2″ apart. This was the look I wanted and it is to the safety code for spacing. First step was figuring out how long and the angles I needed for the hand rail. This was actually much easier than I thought it would be. For this short space I purchased a red oak hand rail from Home Depot at 5′ long. Then I simply held it up to where I knew I needed the rosette to start on the wall and where it would install at the newel post. I taped off the angle and it ended up being a 35 degree bevel cut for both the top at the rosette and the bottom at the newel post. It doesn’t happen very often that I get this right on the first try so I was excited!

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Then I screwed through the backside of the rosette in the middle¬†attaching¬†it to the hand rail center. That way I could then just attach the rosette to the wall and didn’t have any holes visible in the handrail itself. I then used 2 2″ screws to attach the rosette to the wall. I know a lot of people use nails for this part but I just really wanted this to be sturdy so I used 2″ screws and drilled them into the center of the wall where I wanted the handrail to start. On the other end of the handrail I decided to use my Kreg Jig to drill a 1 3/4″ pocket hole into the bottom of the hand rail. Then I used a 2″ screw to attach it right into the newel post. This was the easiest way I could think to do this and it is super sturdy! Then I just filled the pocket hole with wood filler and stained it and you can’t even see it.

Next up was measuring to figure out where to put the balusters. Like I said I wanted them about 2″ apart and did them 4 1/2″ in from the side as that was the center where they would connect to the handrail. So I measured and marked all the holes I needed to drill into the stair treads. I used a 3/4″ spade bit to drill the holes that the balusters would slide into. I drilled all the holes and then lined up the balusters and inserted them into the holes. Then I marked off where I needed to make the angled cuts for each baluster and started cutting them and sliding them into place. Then I used the same construction grade adhesive to glue them to the bottom of the hand rail. I used painters tape to hold them in place while they dried. This went so well! It was super easy and I did them all myself!

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That’s it! I am done for now until after I have this baby. Then I will be finishing up the last 8 steps and just doing some paint touch ups. I am so impatient so we will see how long after I have the baby that I can wait to finish! ūüôā What I love most about this entire project is that it will cost me less than $1,000 to complete and it will add so much to the space!

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