The building of a staircase – Part 2

Most of us have moved into our homes with the staircases intact. In fact, you may not have even paid much attention to the details on your own staircase because it is what it is, right?

Well, in this old house, I had the opportunity to start brand new because what I had was seriously outdated. I’ll do a  before and after soon, however this round is all about what it takes to gut and build a new staircase. And yikes. There’s alot to it.

1. My desire was to create a ‘hardwood looking’ staircase with a carpet runner running down the middle. So you start with 10,000,000 pieces of hardwood components that need some love and attention.

2. Beat it.

As usual, the pieces looked far too new for my liking of all things tattered and rustic, so the pieces got abit of distressing with a hammer, crowbar and nail.

Tip: great aggressive reliever for those that you know.. need that sort of thing. Not ME though. Never.

2. Stain and varnish it.

This step I took extreme time on. Reason being, I like the touch of smooth wood. I used a gel wipe on stain and did 2 coats for a deeper hue. For the varnish, I used a cheapo sponge brush (to avoid brush strokes) and fine sanding in between each coat, did between 4-6 coats. I kept at it until I couldn’t FEEL the woodgrain any longer. I wanted a rail as smooth as silk to run my hands along. This intense step was worth it.

This is the way my stairs have been for a couple years or so. I actually enjoyed the rustic appeal after awhile!

3. Pick your spindles.

Not desiring the traditional standard schmandard variety spindles, I fabricated my own out of 5/8″ steel rods. I went to a friend’s shop and used a chop saw to cut them down to the right length, then took a grinder to the sharp edges.

Video and Part 1 on this crazy little event HERE. Sorry HGTV, I’m too booked to do a guest appearance but if you really twist my arm…

4. Install the edges.

This is where Ken the installer took over. Oh my gosh… I’m stunned at the work this step took. Each step is first notched to create a permanent place for these stair edges.

5. Spindles go in.

Ken drills holes to prep for MY little spindle creation! It’s a diff feeling when you’ve fabricated a part of the project. I wouldn’t leave the poor guy alone.

I was a babbling lunatic at this point… the spindles have an industrial edge to them. Rust, steel and black are their final tones and I couldn’t be more delighted!! Yep, I get asked when I’m going to paint them and I just laugh. My answer is I’m going to take a grinder to them and bring up abit more steel. How’s that for a paint treatment?

6. Hand rail goes in.

I’ve had no hand rails for 1-2 years on these stairs. Now that was veeeeery interesting. You have no idea how you absentmindedly just use them without realizing.

Ohhhhh pretty! Are you feeling that industrial metal love yet?!? I love how the cold steel contrasts with the warmth of the wood. Pictures do not do this justice.

Such a nice edge to enjoy! Wait till you see my before… gasp…

Look at this crazy cutting. I quit babbling so Ken could concentrate on this wacky corner.

And here is where things stand now. Next is my choice of carpet running down the middle. I desired a carpet runner ‘look’ but with the functionality of real underlay underfoot. When you are in your late 40’s, the real deal really works with those real life aging joint issues, no? The carpet I’m dreaming of will be a sisal or jute look if I can find and afford what I have in mind.

What are others saying about this amazing event having just taken place?

If the pets approve, all is well with the world.

Do you have an interesting staircase project? Feel free to throw your link within the comments! I’d love to peek…

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This post is shared with A Soft Place To Land’s DIY Oct 5 2009 series.


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  1. amazing! I am wanting to rip up our carpet and put a runner down. Actually, i have had the runners for months, I just need to get Mr. Hughes on board! Can’t wait to see what your runner looks like!

    Smiles!
    Michelle

  2. I love the mix of metal and wood. Bravo!

    We don’t have any stairs. I am too clumsy and actually spent months on cruches thanks to the last place that had stairs.

  3. THAT is simply amazing, beautiful, amazing, awesome, amazing, gorgeous, and down right brilliant. LOVE IT! You are something else Donna. Wow.

  4. Thanks everyone! Just to clarify, Ken did the entire install while I made a pest of myself hovering and watching how it was done.

    But indeed, prep work of the ready made woodwork was all mine and the spindle part I got shown what to do, then was left unattended for the most part.

    I still think I’m dreaming when I glance at the mere presence of stair rails finally intact!!! Boy oh boy are all of you ‘spoiled’ if you’ve never been without. 🙂

    FJ Donna

  5. I miss stairs. We moved from up North to down South and the land of the one story homes. Yours looks absolutely gorge by the way!

    My best, Lynn

  6. Oh my AMAZING! What a cool project! So cool that you did so much of it yourself! the wood tone is gorgeous and I ADORE the metal spindles! Can’t wait to see it with carpet – you have great vision 🙂

  7. I have been dying to see the staircase finished. It’s GORGEOUS!!!! I now can’t wait to see it with the runner in place. I’m sure you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in time.

  8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE it!!! I can see how much work and sweat you have put into those pretties and I’m dying to see them all complete. Oooooo they are going to be so gorgeous at Christmas time! Thanks for linking up to the party girlfriend :).