This home improvement project is quite different from our usual. We tend to do things that are quick & easy. But this project is far from that. Estimates came in between $3,500 – $4,800 (YIKES!), so we thought we could do it ourselves. After all, Carol & her hubby Randy did their staircase update a few years ago.. we even wrote a post about it called Easy Stairway Update for Only $75. It took them 2 different weekends to get it done & was a lot of work. But like childbirth becoming a distant memory & thinking “that wasn’t so difficult, we can do it again” and because Carol & Randy are such generous friends- the 3 of us went to work!
This is what the staircase looked like before …
The staircase looks outdated & needs a fresh new look. The carpet got old super fast & looked terrible so before the new carpet gets installed its a great time to stain & paint. At least the metal spindles don’t need to change. And thank goodness they are metal & not wood because that would’ve doubled the work.
Please take note that this post is not a sponsored post & that any and all products we are using are because we like them. At the end of this post, we will supply a complete list of all the supplies & products used.
Brushing on some wood stain stripper helps the sanding process. We have some definite likes & dislikes about this process.
The good & the bad about using the stripper: The good- it seemed to get into the wood stain “deeper” for easier sanding. The not so good- It’s a bit difficult to get completely off. If we missed any spots, they showed up when we painted on the gel stain. If we did this project again, we would not use the stripper.
Randi feeling a little overwhelmed with the sanding process…
(Carol’s hubby) Randy is using a sander to strip the banister down to the bare wood.
With so much sanding, we were getting a little silly. It’s the biggest part of the project. That’s why the estimates were so high- its extremely labor intensive. So, if you could do it yourself, you will save a lot of money. Do it with a friend, you will have more fun!!
Most important thing to know about sanding wood- ONLY SAND IN THE DIRECTION OF THE WOOD’s GRAIN. That’s not as easy as it seems. At times this is very difficult, especially with smaller areas or close to the spindles.
We started out sanding with “Fine” sandpaper per the Home Depot Guy’s instructions, but it was just not cutting it and the fine paper was barely making a difference. We switched to medium sandpaper and that made a huge difference.
Starting to see a difference from one side of the staircase to the other.
After sanding is all done, it is super important to clean the area thoroughly. The cleaner the wood & area all around, the easier it will be to apply the wood stain free of specks & dots and what Randy calls “Holidays” or FrugGirl Randi calls “pimples”.
A quick word about why we chose to work with Gel Stain. It’s very thick and easy to apply. Paints on so nice and you can make it dark like we have it or wipe off for a lighter look. We did the lighter wiped off look in our Front Door Update Post. For the staircase we are painting on the gel stain without wiping it off.
Randy has the smooth touch to do a steady brush stroke across the banister.
Prepping with Green Tape to paint the rest of the areas along the wall. Can’t wait to see the high gloss Swiss Coffee color.
When the gel stain is completely & thoroughly dry we applied a clear coat of sealer. **Please note that waiting for the gel stain to dry we had the temperature of the house warmer (approx 72˚) & waited 2 days. There should not be any tackiness (sticky) to it at all before applying the sealer.
We were so lucky to be able to borrow a Pro Series Scaffolding from a friend. This was a huge help reaching those high up areas. A ladder can work too, but its a lot easier on the scaffolding. More room to work & easier to move around.
Time to see it all complete. Look how beautiful…
Definitely worth repeating that this is a very labor intensive job. The supplies are minimal & reasonably priced. So if you can handle the amount of time to do the work, you will save a lot of money. You don’t even have to be a super handy person. Just follow the strict instructions to sand in the direction of the grain.
The best part is every day when you look at your stairs you can smile & be proud at your accomplishment. Add you can also smile and think of the wonderful friends you too can take to a wonderful dinner to say “Thank you” (cause that is what we are going to do!)
- Medium Sandpaper Sheets
- Frogtape Green Painters Tape
- Disposable Gloves
- Lint Free Rags
- Gel Stain
- Helmsman Clear Semi-Gloss Sealer
- Swiss Coffee Premium Paint
- Assorted Paintbrushes for Gel Stain, Clear Sealer, Paint
We hope you will stick around and check out some of our other home improvement projects!