That time I ripped up the carpet just to see what would happen.
I admit, this has become a theme in this home-ownership adventure. I tend to think I’m done with renos, and next thing you know I’m curiously poking around, picking up a corner of carpet, you know…seeing if there’s anything good under there. Of course that’s what happened with the stairs. I had (again) been ready to move in from my parents’ place when
I put my hand on one of the treads hoping I’d feel a real stair under there. And you know what? I DID.
I called my dad over, and we talked ourselves into ripping the carpet from the top stair. It’s nothing that can’t be stapled back in place, right? I should have known it’d go further than that. When we ripped the carpet up, we found the original stairs to the house. Beautiful, but…covered in about 4 thick layers of paint.
The sight of real wood stairs underneath the carpet, no matter how battered and painted, was enough motivation to tear out the carpet and toss it out.
The paint was chipping off in so many places, I thought I could recover them myself. And I probably could have, 8 years and hundreds of sheets of sandpaper and masks later. I was convinced it would be the project that gave me a great reputation as a DIY-er who did surprising and beautiful things to her house with her own skill.
I’d like to say that happened, but the contractor who installed the wood floors was SO good, and affordable. He looked at the stairs, knew a guy, have me a quote, and it was kind of hard to refuse.
Sometimes, you have to weigh both time and money in the value of your home reno. I valued the cost of refinishing the stairs as less than the time and sheer effort I’d need to put into it for years.
The good thing is that the treads were already there, so the cost was much lower than it would have been for completely new stairs. I’m talking under $1,000. We painted the new risers ourselves, so that also saved some money. If you’re a decent painter, do it yourself.
Before I get ahead of myself, I want to give a few more details. That railing was a beautiful colour – I loved it, and originally wanted to match the stairs to it. The contractor told me the old 1920s pine would take the stain in an unpredictable way, so I couldn’t match it exactly, which wasn’t a problem for me.
When I saw all his swatches, I gravitated instead to a darker brown. Admittedly it looked lighter in the swatch, but the brown felt closer to the original stain that was sanded off in the process.
I tell you – the rich, dark brown looks wonderful with the other antique furniture in the house. No regrets there!
I still need to do a bit of work (those upper hallway green walls!), but now I’m one step closer to being finished.
… That is, until I decide to poke around in another room…