Painted wooden crate stairs

Rustic painted wooden crate stairs stenciled with vintage soda designs and reclaimed wood wall decor made with Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils

Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils Store Click HERE

These stairs were the inspiration for firing up a line of stencils.

Click HERE to view our current designs in our online store.


I’ve always loved the look of stamped numbers and logos on wooden crates.

So when the PAINT theme came up for So You Think, I had an idea I’d never seen done before. Would it work?!?

Grabbing some crate and label inspiration I had close by, I started drawing up my plan.

Sign equipment used

The drawing programs I use are CorelDraw and Signlab, alongside a vinyl cutting machine (Roland PNC 1000A) built for commercial use. I use this equipment in my vehicle lettering business, which aren’t priced for novice type users. However, stencils anyone can make is all this takes.

And then I got right to work. πŸ™‚  Yep, right ON the stairs.

And here’s the result.

Come on in and I’ll show you around my old crate staircase! πŸ™‚

The stairs were designed to appear to have been made out of old signboards and wooden stamped crates.

Some steps share one logo, looking as if a large sign was cut in half in order to create the steps.

Different ideas for treads were utilized for a fun eclectic look!

The end result is something so fun and outrageous, you can’t help but smile. πŸ™‚ And a funny story? My two cats think there’s something on the stairs so they wind themselves around each logo as they use them. πŸ™‚

before / Painted wooden crate stairs via

The very fuzzy before.

Rustic painted wooden crate stairs stenciled with vintage soda designs and reclaimed wood wall decor made with Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils
2015 summer home tour HERE
 5 years later!

How to make the wall signs is HERE

 And the very funky eclectic FUN!! after.

A wooden crate staircase is one wild way to enter this house and suits my own personal style to perfection. The more banged up and paint splattered the stairs previously were, the more authentic they appeared! My favorite splatters are from the dog after she ran through a knocked over paint spill. πŸ™‚

Rustic painted wooden crate stairs stenciled with vintage soda designs and reclaimed wood wall decor made with Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils

~ Method  used: ~

Sand and vacuum the stairway as-is

Latex paint with stencils – the white is leftover ceiling, the rest acrylic craft

Distress the painted stencils.

Stain – oil based I had on hand, went overtop the stencils

Varnish – satin in a spray can for wood


There was simply nothing to lose in trying out this crazy idea. The stairway can always be covered with carpet right on top of the wildness at any time.

Give your own old carpeted stairway some thought on what design may suit your own home!


How the stairs were built is HERE

Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils Store Click HERE

These stairs were the inspiration for firing up a line of stencils.

Click HERE to view our current designs in our online store.

Contest wins and features:

 Thanks for your votes all! The crate stairs ranked a first place!


 Weekly winner of Before and After Contest – Sept 2010

$50 Home Depot gift certificate

One Project Closer

Cabin Life Magazine - see stairs feature HERE

Appeared in Cabin Life – see feature HERE

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Categories: All Cool Projects, DIY, Reclaimed wood projects
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  1. Get OUT Of HERE – THIS is AMAZING!!!! So creative and unique – I can not look at these pictures enough. You have such talent and vision – I am so blown away by this…WOW Donna!! Great Great Job ~ well done! Ummm – I want some of those stairs!

  2. Donna! Oh. my. freakin’. heck. You are totally amazing. I might as well bow out now because I truly can’t compete with your outside-the-box creativity!!! Seriously woman, I am in awe! I so love this project!!

    Humbled to be in the same contest with you…


  3. I am hyperventilating I love that so much! YOU ARE AMAZING! I thought I loved the old sign headboard. This is my new favorite project on your blog.

    How fun would something like this be on my deck!!!

  4. This is one of the coolest projects that I have EVER seen! You are completely amazing Donna! I can’t stop looking at your staircase. I can not get over it, really, you did such a great job, I wonder what magazine will pick this up, you totally deserve it!

  5. I LOVE this! And I have some painted stairs in my house. Why don’t I have the guts to do this? I voted for you again. πŸ™‚

  6. I’ve loved all your projects so far but WOW this one is incredible. Please come paint my stairs to look like crates! Honestly, when I saw the first photo on SYTYCD I thought you had used real crates and wondered how you were going to link that to the paint theme. When I read that you made them I was floored. I just love your style!!

  7. Ok, this is just so over the top! But I love it. Makes me wish I had some stairs. Oh, I do, going out to the back deck. Watch out stairs!

  8. These steps are brilliant!!!

    I don’t have any steps inside, but I have a staircase along the side of my house – please show us step by step { hehe } how you did this to make it look like it’s old ads =

    Thank You and So nice to see you –


  9. Donna, you never cease to amaze me. You hit this one out of the park. It is UH-MAY-ZING!
    Incredibly creative and original. Best project Ive seen in a long, long time.

    How you had the time and mental aptitude to pull this off this week is beyond me.

    Ok, seriously, if YOU don’t submit this to some magazines, I will do it for you. And you know I mean it!

  10. Donna-

    Oh my goodness! this is so fantastic. I agree with Polly- Out of the park. Heck out of this world,EVEN!

    And! so not fair. I live in a single dwelling home. I’m trying to think of someplace ANYPLACE, I CAN PAINT ME SOME CRATE SIGNS.

    I LOVE IT!

  11. Awesome Job Donna. Out of curiosity..does the different paint colors and the pattern ..throw you off walking on them..know what I mean?

    Be my luck..I would go to all that trouble..and then get unbalanced walking on

    Now go relax!!!!!

    Rick-Rack and Gingham

  12. Wow. So you don’t think I’m crazy?!? πŸ™‚

    I’m not sure I could really offer more of a tutorial than I already did. The only thing I didn’t say is, the logos that are 2 colour need the base colour down first, let it dry, then apply the top colour, such as the Pepsi. 2 toned logos would require two stencils.

    I’ll look at the pictures I didn’t post and perhaps do a follow up on this one after the weekend if there’s anything I think I can add.

    And just so you know, this can be done to any surface, not just stairs. Don’t have stairs? Do it on a table top! πŸ™‚

    Thanks again all!
    FJ Donna

  13. How is it possible to be in love with stairs…?!

    …because I absoloutely am.

    Wow. Double Wow.

    I don’t even know if love covers it… I am officially infatuated with your stairs.

    Great idea, stylish execution…. *swoons*

  14. Donna,

    You ttttotttally outdid yourself on this one. My stairs are covered in old, gross, stained carpet and now my wheels are turning…….

    I just LOVE your BLOG!!!!

    Keep inspiring us all.


  15. JUST when I think you can’t impress me ANYMORE, you go and come up with THIS!!!! Donna, it’s official, YOU’RE A GENIOUS! If you don’t end up on television with your own show someday soon it will be a cryin’ shame! I’m toally blown away with this one! I soo love coming here! πŸ˜‰

  16. Over the top and then some! Yes, you are crazy – in the best fun, creative kind of way! I agree with Polly, submit this to every magazine you can think of.

  17. you have just solved my basement stairs problem! We’ve lived here for 7 years-the basement stairs are still unfinished ..plain wood,nothing fancy,not even finished off particularly well because the builder assumed we’d throw some carpet down on them. Carpet on stairs is not my thing..its dangerous for one and its impossible to keep clean..thought about paint but geez louise, what color and with all the abuse I would be forever touching it up-I am completely head over heels for your idea now-its quirky,it will not matter if it gets nicked up from work boots and fire wood,it will with stand the dirt of living in the country AND best f all I already have everything I need to do it so CHA-Ching….affordable!
    thank you thank you thank you..

  18. I am not easily impressed but GF you are CRAZY talented….Of course you win in my eyes….thinking outside of the BOX….way to go….blessings my dear

    madame samm

  19. Donna, WOW! LOVE THEM! there are not many stenciled items made to look old that I fall in love with THESE I LOVE! It looks more like you cut the crate to make the stairs, FANTASTIC! I agree with Polly you need to submit these, they are your best project yet!

  20. Fabulous my dear…simply fabulous!! I love the idea and the results. I would have never thought to do this. You are so clever! I want to come and play with you….please??

  21. Donna I want to come live at your house! You have the best ideas. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next. I am going to attempt the metal bed frame on the wall, I have everything I just hope that mine looks as amazing as yours and not like a pile of garbage on the wall:)

    πŸ™‚ Michelle

  22. Those stairs are to die for!!! Why can’t you be my best friend and next door neighbor who loves to do favors for her friend! LOL!! Awesome job.

    Punkin Seed Productions

  23. This is so amazing – I love old crates. And, this would be a perfect way for me to have an homage to old travel signs in my house – without having them plastered on every wall. (I don’t want the place to look like a boys dorm room!)

    Now, the problem…
    I don’t have any stairs.
    Well, I’ve saved this project in my planning notebook. Someday, I’ll do this!
    Thanks so much πŸ™‚ Oh, and I voted, of course.

  24. YOU are fan-flippin-tastik! These are amazing and as you said fit SO WELL in your home! Ive loved all your projects but this just screams DONNA! Love it!

  25. I can’t even find the words to describe how much I love this! You are SO awesome! LOVE LOVE LOVE the vintage feel! This is awesome! Once again looking for an opportunity to copy you!

  26. That is just so fun! I wish I had been that creative when we redid our stairs. I love them, but this is great! I like that it is something that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. I love things like that in our house.

  27. This is without a doubt the absolute BEST idea I have EVER seen. The idea in itself is beyond phenomenal but the execution… OMG it could not possibly have been done more perfectly (??imperfectly??!!).

    HOLY CRAP this is amazing! Love love love the other girls’ stuff, as usual, but stop the bus and stop the whole competition right here and now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. What a great idea Donna!!!

    You are so creative and your home must be one interesting and fun place to visit.

    Continuing in prayer for you and your family.

    Love and hugs and blessings

    barbara jean

  29. OK, where were you for the past 19 years? Last year I moved FROM a house that had TWO inside staircases. (A front and back stair case). The house was wonderful and I miss it (MORE) each day. This would have been SO perfect on the stairs. I did tho paint them and number them years and years ago. Visitors thought I was mentally challenged I think! ha! Sadly, in my new house (and new state) I do not have any stairs. I will remember this tho….just in case! It is wonderful!

  30. For a couple of years I lived in a fairly bare apartment, blanket for a bed, an old swing for a couch, and crates for tables. Your stairs made me feel at home, and brought back memories of care free days!

  31. What a great idea! You are brilliant and you pulled it off so well. The colors and logos look perfect. This project is so “you” and, based on the response, I think you’re going to have a good week! πŸ™‚

  32. Wow, those are AMAZING! What a great idea and awesome execution! I don’t know what else is up for voting this week on SYTYCD but you’ve got my vote!!

  33. #90, I thank you for your vote, however I sincerely ask for all to please ensure to view all the other entries before submitting your chosen vote. I respectfully support the other gals in this contest 100%.

    Thanks so much. Your kudos are totally overwhelming. πŸ™‚

    FJ Donna

  34. be still my heart! YOU are simply amazing! this is one of THE coolest projects i have ever seen. sheesh…and i thought i was in love with my leopard carpet stairs. THIS is so much more FUN! p.s. i voted for you!

  35. YOU. Ahhh-MAZE. ME. this is so vintage, funky, cool! i love it..hmmmm….now to see if it would work on our enclosed staircase. i just can’t stop saying wow. wow. wow! this is over the top as it can be! can you come for a visit and wave your creative hands around my home…pretty please?????!!!!!
    judi πŸ˜‰

  36. Donna, dear, I’m going to echo what the other 3,000,000 people have already said … this project took imagination, vision, and a leap of faith … and the results are completely fabulous!! Congratulations on such a wonderful, original idea.

    You ROCK!

  37. What timing. I was just looking at my stairs that I tore the carpet off, painted and stenciled several years ago and thought “I need to repaint these stairs. They need updating.” I LOVE what you did! I am so inspired! Thanks for sharing.

  38. The stairs are amazing. I love how creative you are. I admire the way you live outside the box. I am inspired to start making some changes around here in my cookie cutter house that looks like every other house on the block. You are truly a creative, amazing person. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  39. Man, all the good words are used up. I had to go to a thesaurus to come up with something that you haven’t heard before. How about THAT STAIRCASE IS PRODIGIOUS! And you are so SPRIGHTLY!

    You are definitely one of a kind!

  40. Donna, what an amazing transformation. It goes to show that anything, no matter how yucky and unworthy can be made into a showstopper with CREATIVE THINKING and FOLLOW THROUGH with CONFIDENCE! As you said, you can always recarpet if it came out poorly–but then, you had a vision about it. Funny how visions seem to materialize when they have a pioneering spirit to make it happen!

  41. ok, so i really can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before, but WOW!!! what a fantastic idea!! you took something that was totally boring and plain and turned it into something that it fun, crazy, a total conversation piece, with loads of PERSONALITY!
    just wow.

  42. I can’t even beleeeeeeeve how fun and cool this is! It makes me wish I had stairs so I could copy-cat you! Love, love, love it Donna–you have totally outdone yourself. Such creativity and talent–what a gift God has given you πŸ™‚

  43. Excuse me if I mis-spell something as I type this. I am picking myself up off the floor. Does HGTV know about you??? Seriously. This is AMAZING…as is everything else you do…but this is beyond fantastic! Great job!


  44. Oh my freaking gosh. YOu amaze me…your creativity, your funness, your ‘go get ’em attitude! These stairs are so absolutely cool I can’t even find words to articulate it!

    You are headed for prime time TV. Mark my words girl.

  45. Okay. I totally want to be you when I grow up! I love the stairs!! Do you think it would be too crazy to use this on my outside stairs? As in, facing the street? Would that be over the top?

  46. You guys are killing me! πŸ™‚

    #134, if you mean how did I THINK of this idea, I just liked stamped looking numbers on wood. What I do from there is let the idea smolder and push it further. Things on wood… numbers, letters, logos, coke crates, etc. If it doesn’t wow me, it’s hasn’t cooked long enough yet. πŸ™‚

    #132, do I think it would be crazy to do outside stairs like this? I think you’re asking the wrong person! Just do it. πŸ™‚

    As for magazines and HGTV and all that jazz, I’m still on the build, big time. I’m still inventing and creating and dreaming new stuff every day. And that takes alot of energy. Once I catch my breath (meaning after So You Think LOL), I can then better concentrate on what I’ve actually created. Right now, it’s bang it all out as fast as I can.

    Thanks so much for the thumbs up! Off I go to finish my next weirdo creation. πŸ™‚

    FJ Donna

  47.!!!!!! I LOVE them! They are absolutely fantastic and right up my alley! It really makes me wish I had stairs! But since I downsized, I now live in a matchbox and there are no stairs to be found. Your creativity never fails to amaze me. I love the way you think! You are one very creative and talented woman and such an inspiration!

    ~ Tracy

  48. get outta town!!!

    i swear – you are one creative soul!
    i’ve been a little m.i.a. {enjoying Spring} and look what i miss.
    wow! wow! wow!

    you get the prize for thinking “outside of the box er, uh crate” award for the entire YEAR!

  49. WOW!! This is amazing. I’m adding this to my staircase ideas folder for future reference. Thanks for the great idea and congrats on the win this week!!


    This project genius of yours is SO deserving of FIRST PLACE!!!! Way to go!

    CHEERS and a WOOT WOOT to you….

    I’m always telling my family and friends about “Donna” and they just roll their eyes….Who is Donna? She’s never been to the house. We’ve never met her. You know? My friend Donna. From Canada!!! Gotta love blog land.

  51. WOW!!!! Have to put my house on the market now as i want stairs!!!
    Quick question, where would one buy those kind of stencils?

    <3 Bella

  52. I have been collecting pictures and ideas for stairs for several years. This is hands-down, the most fabulous, most creative idea I’ve seen yet. You are AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing.

    PS – Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. May I – one of these days – borrow your idea? I have stairs that could really use some help!

  53. Donna – this work is absolutely brilliant! I wish I’d seen it earlier. I tried a process that I’d seen on Apartment Therapy to make my Hokey Pokey sign, but there was no tutorial so I winged it and used store bought stencils and fabric dye for finishing.
    Your stairs are incredibly top shelf because of course the stencils were made by you, etc. Using this method on the bare stairs is genuis! BRAVO! Pam

  54. Oooops! I take that back..I forgot there WAS a tutorial link, but I changed the method a bit to use what I had on hand. I only had a small piece of plywood to work with and no stain in sight so I substituted the fabric dye.

  55. WOW, WOW and WOWWEE!!!!!!!!!! You are the woman. I bow to your creativity!! πŸ™‚ This is the most amazing project I have EVER seen on the net. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. It took me a while to pick up my jaw (which has dropped to the floor with a loud bang) but my my my …. Bloody hell, these are fabulous. These stairs are AMAZING!!! I don’t have stairs where I live (well uh I do sorta but they are made of concrete and are on the outside of the building I live in so that doesn’t count) Whey don’t I have stairs ????, but I am so copying this style to my so much hated coffee table. I love your blog, Thank you so very much for all the inspiration.

  57. All I can say is WOW….it is amazing. I would never have thought of that, but I seriously love it. I hope you don’t mind if I copy, because I’m seriously planning it out. If I accomplish it I will send you an email with pictures. Thanks for the wonderful idea, you might have just solved my ugly worn out carpeting problem.

  58. This has got to be the most inventive staircase I’ve ever seen! I have caret on my stairs and hate it. I’ve always wanted to rip off the carpeting and paint the stairs. This has inspired me! Bravo!

  59. My jaw is dropping!! This is amazing!!! I love EVERYTHING about it!!! I wish I had stairs like this but they are all carpeted. πŸ™
    Congrats too on winning the award, you so deserved it!!!

  60. Why haven’t I visited your blog before? I’m kicking myself as I write this…..I love your stair makeover, totally outrageous and cool! Thanks for sharing the instructions, too.

  61. I just discovered your website and am already planning a few of your projects…including these stairs!! I am amazed at your talent and creativity!! When I get my stairs finished I’ll send you a pic… Thanks for the inspiration!!

  62. OMGosh!!! This is so perfect for my basement stairs, and I’ve been dying to get rid of the nasty carpet! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Simply FABULOUS!!! (and cheap – could it get any better??!) <3

  63. this is awesome! reminds me of the funkalicious cafes in austin, without the chainsmoking smog. so happy to look at them!

  64. This is fantastic! I love it – think I’ll try this on a coffee table idea I’ve had for awhile, since I don’t have any stairs to try it on.

    I’ve used those $1 artist colors to add color when I’ve refinished furniture, btw – and lamps. But this is the best I’ve seen yet. Great job!

  65. I found you through The Nester:) I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THIS!!! Do you have pics of the rest of your home? I totally think this would work magically in my house…I have a lot of “found” items..I like things to tell a story…My wheels are turning!!!!

  66. oh I am sooo ready to rip the carpet off the stairs to my basement. . I hate that carpet. . .my hubby wants the carpet though as he says it is a sound barrier. . .and we have 5 kids and lots of others in the house at all times. . but maybe I just put the wood right over the carpet. I am so gonna do it. . thanks for the inspiration. . coming over from Nesting Place Risk Day. .

  67. This is such a great idea and so cost effective. I might give it a go this summer. I am so over this carpeted stairway in our basement. Thank you!

  68. I thought these stairs were genius the first time I saw them but I really thought you found the signs and cut them to fit the stairs. Now that I see you stenciled, painted and embellished them all yourself, my hat is totally off to you Donna! This is creativity at it’s finest! I love what you did!
    Susan @ homeroad

  69. I AM TOTALLY loving this idea but will add my own twist πŸ˜‰ TFS!!!! I will link back to you of course πŸ™‚ I still have plywood on my stairs & this will look great!

  70. I hope this idea is for the ceiling! BECAUSE…in the next few weeks this is seriously happening to my basement steps! This is phenomenial! Bless you! And it’s so me!

  71. Hi , I met you at Rempel a few days ago. I knew you were cool when I met you, didn’t know how cool though. Very nice work ! I would like to learn more, is that possible ?

  72. I know this is an old post but I just found it and really want to recreate this look in my home. I promise to send you pictures and post with credit to you everyhere. Could you please offer some insight on how you finished the sides of the stairs? Are they just small slices of finished stair treads? I am afraid when I pull up my rug there will be particle board underneath.

  73. This is so amazing it makes me want to move out of my bungalow and buy a house with a staircase. There is nothing more I can say about this except…swoon. SWOON!


  74. Such an amazing creative idea! We needed an alternative to carpet and flooring. Thank you. Now to figure out how you get that fabulous warn paint look on your logos. πŸ™‚

  75. Okay, I’m lazy.. did you make these steps OUT of crates or did you just stencil the wood on your steps after you ripped off the crappy carpet.. either way.. AMAZING.. do you get slivers?

  76. The stenciling is great but I also love the steps themselves. How did you do that? I want to appropriate your concept but under my carpet the treads and risers are all particle board.

  77. I am trying to see closely the moulding used on the sides – did you miter at the bull nose? Any other hints would be appreciated.

    • The stair edges were all professionally made. The original intent had been to carpet between the hardwood pieces. However when the carpet never arrived, I decided to paint them instead.

      Thanks so much for the kudos!