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. ๐Ÿ™‚  Yep, right ON the stairs.

And here’s the result.

Come on in and I’ll show you around my old crate staircase! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. Spiral stairs are very useful to save space in attics and reduced spaces and at the same time, they give a modern and rhythmic style to your home. The installation of a custom-made spiral stair can improve the whole style of the house and enhance the kind of living accommodation.

  2. From Susan G.

    Like everyone else, I’m blown away. I have a horrible carpeted stairway that I hate vacuuming and I cannot afford to put in a new fancy wooden one. I’m interested in implementing this idea, with a few tweaks of my own of course. Can you help me out with some crucial details? 1) Is the wood we see you pained on what you found when you pulled up the carpet? I’m afraid I’ll find particle board! 2) I see in the photos that you changed the banister/rails. Your choice is great. Would you mind sharing where you got them/the name? 3) On both sides of the stairs you have a different, fancier wood running perpendicular to the stenciled stair (that is, under the rails and on the other side of each stair) What is the deal with this? Was this something you decided to do as an artistic choice or something putting in the new rails necessitated? Any info on why you did it this way would be really appreciated. 4) You said you used a stain you had on hand. I don’t have any experience with stain (trauma from my mother’s awful stain selections) and instead usually paint. I do, in fact, like the color of your stain a lot. Any idea what it might have been or what color(s) stain would give me a similar look? Any advice on brand of stain and varnish? 5) Finally, it has been several years since this remarkable stroke of creativity hit you. How are the stairs wearing? What sort of upkeep have you had to do? Re-varnish frequently? Would you do anything differently now? I know I’ve asked a lot of questions! Unless I know more about the technical side of this there is no way my hubby will not kill me if I rip up our carpet. I’m more of a fabric arts gal…but you’ve inspired me so much and given me some guts. Thank you so much for this blog. It makes me want to dig deeper inside myself, and my experiences with my family, and bring that into our home.

    • 1. Yes! It was the original wood.

      2. I made the rails out of steel rods, just cut down to size.

      3. The edges of the stairway were implemented to incorporate carpet in between. When the carpet didn’t show up, I just ran with it and painted the stairs as is. This way, any future owner can choose to carpet if they so desire. The hardwood stair edges match my hardwood floors throughout the house.

      4. I believe the stain/varnish I used was Varathane. It was a custom colour. If you bring a wood piece you like into the paint store, they can tint a stain to match what you desire. Pretty cool!

      5. I didn’t varnish over each stairway and they have worn wonderfully! Most steps look as good as the day they were painted. And as they wear down, they just get better. Then again, I like that look so wear doesn’t bother me in the least!

      The only thing I’d do differently is not wait so long to do this again! I LOVE these stairs! Love looking at them and love using them. I’m so glad to have inspired you, Susan!

  3. I’ve been seriously coveting your stairs forever now and have anxiously awaited the release of your ebook on all your stenciling and “secrets”. Did I miss it’s release or is still in the works? I’ve searched high and low for stencils and haven’t found just the right ones….help! Beautiful work by the way. I find it hard to keep up with all your awesome projects.

  4. I know I was on this site a few months ago and you had details on how you used the vinyl to create the signs. I now can’t find it. I know you say you have an ebook but can’t find that either. I would like to do some signs in my new garage that I put up 10″ pine boards on the walls.

    I have a graphic a friend made but don’t understand how to make that a stencil. I would appreciate any help you can give of let me know how to get your ebook.

    Thank you

  5. Whoa, I’m so stoked right now! I saw this in a book or somewhere a while ago and I was so bummed that I didn’t know the source. Lucky me I happened upon your blog today, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!!

  6. I have this this phot forever, but the first time I looked at your post about it! They are so clever! I wish I had stairs! I have but one concrete step into my front door. Maybe I can find inspiration for it? Happy junky my friend…..

  7. Hello!
    I’m new to your blog, but have fallen in love with it!!! LOVE<3LOVE<3LOVE<3 AMAZING CREATIVITY!!!!!!!!!!
    I have a very old home. It used to be a boat house and was converted, therefore the stairs are very similar, just smaller. I took the nasty carpet out over 2 years ago and have been scouring, looking for something creatively to do with them. I think this is it! The only problem I have is I'm not as creative as you! ๐Ÿ™ In my mind I am, haha. But the mind/eye hand coordination thing happens and I'm not able to pull it off. This is where you come in…
    I see there was an update added to the post about how to create the stencils. Having trouble finding the link. Is it available?
    I would REALLY REALLY appreciate your info if available. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I'm inspired and want to leave work right now to start my new stair project!!!
    Thank you!

  8. did you put the crate wood over top of your existing stairs??
    Also, as we speak (ok, type, but you get it!! ) I am trying to redo my steps leading up to my bedrooms…I knocked out a wall and would love to Open the last couple of steps up but I am total stuck…any suggestions??? I have plaster and lathe walls and it crumbles everytime I start to cut!!

    • Hi Leslie, I painted directly on the original wood. I lucked out and had solid wood underneath!

      I’m not sure how to guide you on your construction without a picture… sounds like a big project! You’re welcome to share a picture of your dilemma on my Facebook page for some advice!

  9. Would you be willing to replicate these and sell them to me for a new house my wife and I are building? The basement is going to look like an old barn and this would be perfect…however…there is no way I could make them look as good as yours! Please feel free to email me if you’re interested. I would love to have this in my home!

  10. this is so me!!! i adore this look*** you have outdone yourself on this one!!!! so creative and inspiring. probably my most favorite thing you have done !!!!!

  11. I love this project. So much so that I’ve had a photo of it that I saw years ago saved as inspiration since I have the same problem with the stair case in my house. At that time, the photo wasn’t connected to the “how to” part of the story. Now that I see it, I have a couple of questions:

    1. It looks like you added new “borders” along the sides of the stairs at the same time you changed out your railings. Is this true? Did you do that yourself, or have those installed by someone else?

    2. Did you make any changes to the wood that was underneath the carpet? Because there are a couple of steps (at the corner) that have wood “slats” perpendicular, I’m not sure if those were changed out. My house was built in 2000 and I suspect the wood underneath the carpet is just plain plywood, nothing with a bit more character. I’m wondering if simple plywood will lend itself to this finished result.


    • Hi Tamara!

      I have always had the tutorial attached to the stair post, so you may have viewed a feature of the stairs in another post. But I always link to the original… or try! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Step edges were added, because the stairs were geared to accept carpet. This way, they still can be. But the look would be equally fun without the edges I’d say!

      I had the edges and rails done professionally.

      I made no changes to the wood. What you see is how it was under the carpet.

      I’m uncertain how plywood would appear. You could always do a test and see. Or cover them with some thin, solid wood if they had too much of a plywood appearance.

      I’ll do a test sometime on simple plywood to try it out! I’d think if it wasn’t that chippy confetti looking stuff, it could look awesome, once well sanded. But you would see raw layered edges…