Monday, January 11, 2016

Stairway to.... ?

So, I feel like when I started the blog, my projects were relatively simple, low-risk ways to add something fun to my home.  Lately though, it seems more like episodes of "how much trouble can she get herself into this time?" or "will this be the time her husband gives up and just makes her live with the destruction she created?".  Well, this one is no different, because somehow over the New Year weekend, my house went from having functional stairs to this:

Yep, gaping hole where stairs used to be.  The best part is, we started they day with me saying, "I think I'd like to replace the carpet".  Curious yet?

I while ago I realized that the carpet on our stairs was falling apart.  Some of the threads were pulling out, and it was getting loose in a couple places.  I probably could have (should have?) just re-stapled in a couple places, cut the loose threads, and lived with it for a while, but it wasn't really that nice looking to begin with.

After researching my options I landed on replacing the carpet with a rug runner.  I liked this option better than bare wood since stairs can be really loud without some sort of soft padding, and I wanted to move away from full carpet since it was the only carpeted area in that half of the house.  I researched my runner options and found that Dash and Albert makes an indoor/outdoor polypropylene rug that should hold up to high traffic and puppy dogs. I waited for them to go on sale, and purchased enough to cover the stairs (this is the exact one).  Oh, and since it's hard to tell on the website, this rug is gray with brown undertones, almost "greige".

I have had these rugs sitting here for about a month, but I was nervous to start this project simply because I didn't know the condition of the stairs underneath.  But those rugs kept calling to me every time I would walk by them, and the carpet kept looking worse.  I figured that worst case, we would end up replacing the treads of the stairs, but they should just pop right off and be easily replaced, right?  I did my best to prepare for the worst, and after talking it over with the hubby last weekend, decided to jump in.  

Our house is a bi-level, which means that when you walk in the front door, you have to go upstairs or downstairs.  So, we essentially had two sets of stairs to work with.  I got started by peeling back the carpet on the lower stairs, and found my first lucky break (which I neglected to photograph)!  The stairs were just in need of some sanding and finishing, but nothing major.  What a relief!  Then we pulled back the carpet on the upper stairs, and that's when we found it:

Yep, that's parquet flooring, installed on stairs.  At first this was funny.  "I'm sure this looked fantastic!  What were they thinking??".  It was funny until after 30 minutes of hammering and chiseling we realized that IT WOULD NOT COME OFF.  There were perfectly good wooden stairs under there, but there was no way to get to them.  We were officially in the "worst case", only we needed to replace both the treads (what you walk on) and the risers (the vertical parts).  We bought our supplies and got to work.  And by "we got to work", I mean that my husband CUT our stairs out of the house while i freaked out.  I freaked out because it wasn't until my house was missing stairs that I realized that I didn't really know how stairs were really supposed to be built.  And how much we needed to remove to put new stairs in.  And if we would have to call someone, show them what we did, and ask them to fix it for us. What. Have. I. Done. Now?

I hope you aren't terribly disappointed or left hanging, but I'm not going to go into great detail about how we replaced the stairs.  My husband saved the day and figured it out, but honestly if you happen to find yourself in this situation I want you to (1) call me and we can complain about our houses together over the appropriate beverage, and (2) find a better source to figure out how stairs should be.  I'm confident with what my hubby came up with, but there may be a better way, and your stairs might be different than mine.

So, once we had stairs(!) on the top half and i had thoroughly sanded the stairs on the bottom, I stained the treads of the stairs in Minwax Polyshades, American Chestnut and painted the risers in the white trim paint that I use everywhere.  I liked the Polyshades in this case because I was staining 20 year old stairs and brand new stairs, and the Polyshades matched pretty closely between the two, rather than having to do multiple coats to try to get both even with each other.  My stairs got an extra coat of polyurethane because I accidentally bought stain in a satin finish and wanted gloss, but it's probably not a bad idea anyway.  All of this was left to dry for 24 hours after the last coat.  I hate the wait, but didn't want to find my rug stuck to the stairs if I ever need to pull it up.

Next I stapled a rug pad to the stairs, to help keep everything from slipping and to add a little bit of cushion.  The pad was a few inches less in width than the rug, so being perfectly straight wasn't critical, but i did try not to have any wrinkles.  I taped off what would be the edge of my rug (I happened to have 2" of the stairs showing on each side, and had 2" painters tape on hand, so that's why it's right on the edge).  It is important to make sure that your rug is straight, and the tape prevented me from having to measure each time.

I stapled the end of the rug at the top, which gets covered by a trim piece (at least on my stairs... haha).  At this point I realized that my staples were really going to show.  The shine was probably the most obvious, and the rug was woven, so there was no way to hide the staple with the pile.  In my second lucky break of the day, I happened to have a can of flat gray spray paint that matched the rug pretty well, so I lightly spray painted the tops of the staples (not too much to avoid jamming up the stapler).

My stapling strategy was to avoid stapling where feet would be, so i put staples just underneath the nose, and at the very bottom of the riser.  I started in the center of the rug and worked my way out to the edge, making sure the rug was straight and tight as I went.  This worked really well, and I don't think I'll need to add staples to the treads, but if I did it would probably just be one on each end to keep everything tight.

I did have a seam in each set of stairs, which I made under the nose of the stair.  I cut the excess end of the first rug, ripped the hem out of the second, and folded it under so that the pattern matched up:

It's basically the same idea at the ends; cut the rug a little longer than you need, tuck it under and staple it down well.

So, here's the finished product:

WAY Before:



So much better!  Even just looking at the pictures of the old carpet, I really forgot how ugly it was.  The tan/brown look isn't helping, but it was just worn out.  It was probably tired from covering up the 1980's dance-floor-turned-stairs for so long, hiding that kind of secret just wears on you, right? ;)  

In case lists are helpful to you, here's what you would need to complete this:

Runners (It took three to complete my stairs)
Runner Rug Pads (Buy the runner version, or one large one and cut it down)
Staples (I used 9/16" heavy duty staples, which were the longest I could find)
Staple Gun (We bought a $30 electric one, and it made the job a lot easier)
Stain in gloss finish (I like Minwax Polyshades for this)
Paint  (semi gloss finish, or whatever you paint your trim with)
(Hopefully not) Stair treads, risers, and nails

This cost about $500 to do, mostly because of the cost of the (high quality) rug, and that I needed 3 of them.  That also includes the cost of replacing the stairs.  It could be done for less, if your stairs are in good shape and you can find a better deal on runners.

Phew!  I'm glad that one is off the list!  Winter just makes me antsy to work on projects inside the house, since I'm stuck inside so much.  Hopefully I can keep myself out of too much trouble...

Have a good week!