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Old 05-07-2013, 01:24 PM   #1
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Fixing up a staircase


Sorry I don't have pics, I know that makes all the difference.

1978 bilevel. The entrance stairs are hardwood, pine I'd guess and in decent shape relatively. They were carpetted for a long time but it was torn out before we moved in, so I pulled all of the staples and nails, removed all the glue and cleaned them real nicely. Decent.

Now I am pondering the next step. There are little gaps at the edges of the treads and risers. Not a big deal but....

So I was thinking of filling the gaps in with wood filler, and then sanding and refinishing the stairs with a stain, then polyurethane, then probably a carpet runner or tread carpets.

My wife thinks painting them is a really good idea. I am worried about the upkeep, but I suppose with tread carpets the wear and tear will be greatly reduced.

Any comments?

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Old 05-07-2013, 05:22 PM   #2
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Wood filler will not stain the same as the wood will. you can buy end caps, stain them and then a run of carpet and it would look nice.

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Old 05-08-2013, 08:37 AM   #3
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Wood filler will not stain the same as the wood will. you can buy end caps, stain them and then a run of carpet and it would look nice.
Thanks for the feedback.

I had to google end caps since I didn't know which part of the stairs it refers to. I don't think it applies to my situation since my stairs are enclosed by walls on either side, both up and down.

But in googling I found replacement treads and risers you can install to rehab stairs...maybe this is a good option? To avoid gaps again they'd have to be perfectly cut and installed for each stair, and how to avoid expansion/contraction?
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:01 AM   #4
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Fixing up a staircase


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Thanks for the feedback.

I had to google end caps since I didn't know which part of the stairs it refers to. I don't think it applies to my situation since my stairs are enclosed by walls on either side, both up and down.

But in googling I found replacement treads and risers you can install to rehab stairs...maybe this is a good option? To avoid gaps again they'd have to be perfectly cut and installed for each stair, and how to avoid expansion/contraction?
You can get the caps without the returns, then all you would have to do is slide the caps tight against the skirt and fasten, run your carpet runner and that would take care of the gaps, like the picture below.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:55 AM   #5
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Fixing up a staircase


Pine is not a Hardwood, its a soft wood. Paint them with a high quality enamel.
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:12 AM   #6
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Pine is not a Hardwood, its a soft wood. Paint them with a high quality enamel.
Some pine is harder than others tho, right? Ours doesn't appear to scuff up too fast. And maybe I am wrong about what kind of wood it is.

Paint is alluring because then I could caulk all of the gaps.

The more I read the more I realize that stairs are actually kind of complicated and hard to do right by a DIY guy like myself.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:11 AM   #7
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Some pine is harder than others tho, right? Ours doesn't appear to scuff up too fast. And maybe I am wrong about what kind of wood it is.

Paint is alluring because then I could caulk all of the gaps.

The more I read the more I realize that stairs are actually kind of complicated and hard to do right by a DIY guy like myself.
Post a picture, we will tell you what it is.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:21 AM   #8
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Fixing up a staircase


Some pine is harder than other species of same but none comes close to hardwood. I've attached a fairly comprehensive hardness scale chart although in looking I see it does not include douglas fir and if your steps are not pine, they probably are fir? Hardness of fir is about what pine is though. It is not a hardwood either.

If you decide to paint the stairs, think about a porch and floor paint of quality because it will come with enhancements regular semi-gloss "enamel" will not have. They really are not intended to hold up to foot traffic. I know and have used Ben Moore's porch and floor products most. The oil-based is urethane reinforced and the waterbased is epoxy reinforced. The oil-based is fairly high gloss and the waterbased is more like a semi-gloss. Both will work just fine for you and the waterbased might be a little easier to work with and will dry faster.

Of course paint or clear poly will help make the very surface stronger but will do nothing to make the wood itself any harder. You can still imprint pine and fir floors with heavy objects, etc. This should not be such a factor for stairs I guess.

Note that paint or clear poly on stairs can be slippery---especially in slippery sock or with bare feet just off a shower floor. So, you will probably want some sort of runner or non-slip stair treads whatever you use. There are some nice ones out these days. Your best bet may be to explore online for something you like and then see if your local flooring supplier can order the same or similar for you.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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Fixing up a staircase


Yeah I've seen some really great tread carpets that stick down, i hear that they actually stay down and are functional.

I like BM paint and I just looked up the floor paint and I am liking that idea! The waterbased looks highly plausible! If there's tread rugs on it, the wear won't be bad at all.

And primarily, the wife likes the idea, but also the cost and effort will be nothing compared to trying to rehab them. I can just sand them (they aren't shiny so they either have very old polyurethane or some kind of varnish), caulk them, paint them, and put the carpets down. I have to do molding against the drywall and some other stuff too but that isn't bad.

I am leaning in this direction!

EDIT: these are merely examples from google of rug pieces that go on treads, not my stairs!




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Old 05-08-2013, 12:24 PM   #10
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You did not get very close to the grain to snap your photos, but they look like oak. I would not even think about painting them. They are nice.

There is a big trend toward painting things nowadays. The other night I watched a TV show where on two separate occasions the crazy B remodelers painted a beautiful Mahogany bar back in super condition dark blue, and another show where they painted a beautiful pecan veneered dresser with a serpentine front, where they painted it black and glued old letters to the front of it. Insanity! They did not even see the intrinsic beauty in the wood, and they were supposed to be artsy fartsies.

About 100 years from now, somebody is going to start to strip those two pieces and come upon two gold mines.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:32 PM   #11
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You did not get very close to the grain to snap your photos, but they look like oak. I would not even think about painting them. They are nice.

There is a big trend toward painting things nowadays. The other night I watched a TV show where on two separate occasions the crazy B remodelers painted a beautiful Mahogany bar back in super condition dark blue, and another show where they painted a beautiful pecan veneered dresser with a serpentine front, where they painted it black and glued old letters to the front of it. Insanity! They did not even see the intrinsic beauty in the wood, and they were supposed to be artsy fartsies.

About 100 years from now, somebody is going to start to strip those two pieces and come upon two gold mines.
Sorry, those pictures are from google and are merely examples of tread carpets that stick down. Much easier than installing an entire carpet runner.

Mine don't look nearly as nice.

I am with you kind of on painting things. Sometimes wood is beautiful, and sometimes paint is great. We painted a lot of the stuff in our house including the baseboards and door trim pieces. Nice crispy white. Wood paneling in the 70s gave wood a bad name and ordinary fashion trends moved into white cabinets and white paint everywhere.

A hybrid option would be to stain the treads and seal them, but paint the risers and stringers, which would let me caulk them.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:36 PM   #12
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I think it goes in cycles. I have uncovered so many beautiful pieces of wood that were painted over in restoring old homes. I guess people got tired of the wood look and paint seemed more contemporary?

Three fave stories...

At a place I worked, not in the trades at the time, a contractor accidentally put a hammer through a wall. Low and behold, underneath it was an immaculate piece of stained glass that stretched almost three stories. It was simply not fashionable at the time a certain well know architect from Germany came to campus to head up the school of architecture. Nor were the painted over stair rails, etc. In fact, the same architect spent a good portion of the permanent endowment for the place tearing historic stuff down and building steel and glass boxes in thier place. Said stained glass work was at least protected on the outside by plywood or something as I remember. I was their in the mid to late 80s so am guessing it was covered from about 1943 or so on.

I worked on an old balloon frame cutey. Just for fun, I pulled the end caps off two doorless entries into a dining area on one side and a living room on the other. Hiding behind them were drop dead gorgeous carved and paneled, thick oak pocket doors. Thankfully they had been tucked away and not painted over. I just had to clean them up. The varnish on them was still in great shape. I figure they had been hiding for 50 years or so. The modern paint over everything wood craze was 50s-60s as I remember.

I worked on two antique homes in the same hood. The latter was the same one with the oak pocket doors and after weeks with a power scraper, power shaver and then a sander I primed antique cedar and cypress siding. The owner ran out of money.

New owners of that place and someone who took over the exterior of a little Victorian I restored inside, ripped the wood siding off and replaced it with vinyl. The value of the homes dropped at least $30K instantly and most importantly, they lost any ability to be sold as antique homes. The little Victorian languished on the market for a year longer than it should have. In putting vinyl on oodles of ordinances pertaining the historically landmarked neighborhood were violated and fines assessed. The new owners of the cutey ripped the hideous stuff off and put wood back on. Value of the place went back to where it should have been all along.

The other one looks even worse because the fools could not get enough of the same color siding to do the whole house.

Oh well. Last serious girlfriend banned me from watching TV design shows fearing I would toss a brick through the flat panel screen. I just love the new no prep paints---made of liquid plaster and cheap hobby acrylics---people put over nice woodwork.

Just read the posts on this site. The majority of DIYers want a way to skip at least one step and why not proper refinishing of a piece of furniture. Or paint prep.

UfDa! Is what us Scandy raised people say when we can think of nothing nicer.

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Old 05-14-2013, 07:35 AM   #13
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Fixing up a staircase


OK I finally got some mediocre pictures of my stairs. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.


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Old 10-24-2013, 12:49 PM   #14
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I thought I'd throw out pics of how it turned out. Stained the treads, caulked and painted everything else, lots of trim work.







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Old 10-24-2013, 01:37 PM   #15
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Your stairs turned out great, you did a fantastic job, thanks for showing us the after pictures.

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