August 9, 2013

Before & After: Carpeted Stairs to Painted Stairs

Two weeks ago I yanked all the carpet off my stairs. It felt damn good. I started the process in June when I ripped the carpet off my first three stairs, installed new risers with the help of a friend, and then painted them. But I needed to do the whole shebang. To anyone who's considering ripping the carpet off their stairs and then dealing with whatever you find underneath, I say, Do it! One of the best things I've ever done for my house, hands down. (It took a lotta, lotta time though, and if you don't like to paint and play with nail guns and caulk guns, then maybe you wouldn't want to undertake this after all.)

Looking at these before photos literally makes me feel a little ill. I hated having this dirty old carpet on our stairs. But we definitely didn't have the money to have the stairs professionally redone, so I had to figure out how to get these stairs looking up to snuff on my own.

I am so lucky that I work part-time for a home remodeling company here in Nashville (Stratton Exteriors) and could enlist the help of my boss Shane when it came to selecting materials, measuring, and sawing boards the correct length. No way I could have done it without him. (Speaking of Stratton Exteriors, my obsession with painted stairs goes back a ways; I blogged about it on the Stratton Exteriors blog in February.)

While I've read online that some people have been able to rip the carpet off their stairs and find perfectly paintable/stainable steps underneath, what I found was kind of a nightmare. The existing treads had big gaps on either side--too big to caulk or fill with wood putty. So we ended up putting down new treads on most of the steps, and every step needed a new riser. The wood cost $100. Paint, primer, and assorted materials cost me another $125. So the whole project give or take cost under $250.

Here's what the steps looked like bare. I think I had already pulled up all the nails and staples at this point:

Here's what the stairs looked like once we got the new treads and risers on and they were all caulked, patched, and sanded:

Here's what the stairs looked like once they were all primed:

With regards to the paint color, I exercised a lot of restraint. I was tempted to go blue, something like this:

In the end, I kind of regret not going for it.

Instead, I used this photo as my inspiration and tried to match the color as best I could:

I found Benjamin Moore's "Cromwell Gray," which I love because it's gray/green/brown depending on the light. I painted the risers with Sherwin Williams's porch paint in "Antique White." It's what I had on hand from when I painted my porch

So here are our new stairs:

The improvement is pretty major, right? 

Don't look too closely. They're not perfect, but then I knew they wouldn't be. But I am really, really happy with them. 

Here's the view from up top:

We hauled an old handrail out of our shed and reinstalled it. I painted the hand rail and the banister rail "Cromwell Gray," too. Really tied things together, if I do say so myself.

Next up: All the carpet upstairs is getting uprooted and kicked out of my house forever. More adventures ahead.

Clearly, I won't rest until my paint brush touches every square inch of our house. 


  1. They look fabulous, my dear, fabulous!!

  2. Looks awesome!

  3. Fabulous, as usual!! And I LOVE your "Heart Wide Open" pic.

  4. Great job! The stairs look wonderful.

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  6. You ever think about slapping some of these on those stairs?

  7. You ever think about slapping some of these on those stairs?

  8. They are anything but difficult to clean with a vacuum cleaner and spills can be cleaned instantly.

  9. Thank you for sharing the truth of what I know I'm going to find under my stairs when I get around to and the courage to tackle this project!

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  12. Does the paint scratch when you walk on it

  13. Does it scuff or scratch easily?

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