January 25, 2013

Painted Stairs

It was 2 years in the making but my basement stairs are finally painted!

Not only are they painted but they're sturdy and quiet when you walk on them too! Oh, and let's not forget they're also safe for bare feet/toddler knees now :)

Let's take a look at just how terrible they were just last week...

Ahhhh, yes. Isn't that beautiful....shudder. As I mentioned when I posted about my goals for this month, these stairs were carpeted when we moved in. I feel like carpeted stairs always look dingy and dirty and cleaning my carpets is not one of my strong points so we ripped out the carpet and found linoleum tiles underneath. We pried that out and were left with thick, grooved glue on the wood. We thought we could sand it off but the glue just kept heating up and getting sticky. So on to plan B, flipping over the treads.

We ripped everything out as carefully as we could last Saturday. We then tested our luck over and over by doing the stairs like so....

No legs were broken thank goodness.

We had to replace the risers but it only required a couple of 1x8 pine boards which cost $12 in all. 

After installing those with a nail gun Scott took the old treads out to the garage and repaired the ones that got damaged. There was a lot of wood glue and wood putty used but we were able to use all but one of them in the end! 

It turns out these walls are crooked, so when the builders put in the stairs (in 1950) they cut them crooked to fit. This is all well and fine except that when you flip over the tread it is now crooked in the WRONG DIRECTION. Therefore there were unsightly gaps, some bigger than others. To hide this problem a bit we installed some quarter round. 

Now I could finally start painting. I primed 3 times then painted with Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss from Behr down the middle of the stairs 3 times. I should mention that while priming I would do every other stair so that I could still get up and down the stairs! 

Here's where my crooked walls started messing things up again. I tried measuring from the wall over 6 inches and marking a line to paint my accent color but the lines didn't line up at all. Instead I borrowed a laser level from a friend. We didn't have a tripod for it to sit on so things got very...interesting. It had a suction cup so we suctioned it to the side of a storage ottoman then used a level to make sure the ottoman was sitting level. hmmm, that sounded much easier than it was. Let's just say it was a stressful half an hour trying to figure out how to hold the laser steady!! ;)

Once I had marked the line all the way up the stairs I taped along it and painted the edge with some more white paint to help prevent bleeding.

Then I just painted in my accent color....oh poo. It was a Martha Stewart color that I had color matched in Behr paint but I can't find the swatch right now to give you the name! **UPDATE** The color is called Nutshell. Just two coats and then I removed my tape. It bled through only in some of the corners where the tape was gapped. I'm so happy that this project is finally done!

Shall we look at a before and after one more time??

The truth is it's not actually done. I still plan on adding a little something but I'll let you know when that is finished. Also please ignore/excuse the walls!! There will be more about those later this month ;)


Here are the stairs now that I added some hand painted numbers! You can see the tutorial here.


  1. Heidi, the stairs look amazing! Wow. What a transformation! Super impressed.

    1. Thanks so much Danielle!! I'm going to be in that honeymoon stage where I just stand there smiling at it for a few weeks I think ;)

  2. Heidi,
    You guys did a fabulous job! I love the part about turning the boards over to find they were now uneven in the wrong direction. Our home was built in 1959 and let's just say they took poetic license with some things here.

    Great colors.
    And, the skipping a step while priming is a great trick!

    ~ Dana

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  4. Wow! The new stairs look awesome! Definitely worth your hard work. And I love the numbers on them, too. Great job!


  5. You make me wish we still lived in a house with stairs. Now on PInterest I see so many wonderful ideas with stairs/ Enjoy your new staircase.

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  7. I love what you did with the stairs! I hope we can do our stairs this way soon. They need a face-lift too! It's sweet how you made your house more of a home by adding this special touch!

    Visiting from Pint-sized Treasures

  8. Wow what a job, it looks terrific! and love the numbers, so wonderful idea! thank you for sharing

  9. Wow Heidi, what a difference, the stairs look great, and I like the numbers. We are your newest members, would love for you to join us.
    The French Hen's Nest

  10. Wow! They look fantastic!

    Visiting from Kammy's Korner.

  11. They look fabulous! What a difference!! And the numbers are so fun too.
    I painted the stairs coming into our house from the garage a year a half ago…same idea with the painted runnger. Still so glad I did it - they are banged up a bit but nothing a little touch up every once and a while won't fix. Worth all the effort right? Enjoy yours!

  12. wow! What a great makeover...and a great way to teach your kids to count as they climb up the stair. Wonderful tutorial, too. :)

  13. These look great! You did an amazing job! I wish I had wooden stairs now ;) I'm a new follower. I love your blog.

  14. I love...love the numbers on the stairs! I have been wanting to pull the carpet off my stairs for the last couple years...this inspires me to get it done!

  15. super cute! Thanks for linking to Tasteful Tuesday party. This project is being featured at the party this week. It will go up MOnday evening, so be sure to stop by. Also I am part of an amazing pattern sale and giveaway, so don't miss out!

  16. Heidi! Your stairs are so fabulous! Love the color and the numbers are the perfect touch! I've been itching to remove the carpet on our stairs! I think it's time to take the plunge! Would love for you to share at the party tonight! xo bridgett


  17. Love your stairs. They are beautiful now!!!