REFURBISHING THE STAIRS: PART II

May 24, 2016
Rachel Schultz

Back in Part I of stair refurbishing, we brought the stairs from ugly brown carpet to completely smooth and glossy white on the risers. Part II will cover stripping the treads and Part III is re-staining and the top coat. In addition to removing the dark stain portion, there was some white paint to get rid of from when the original walls were messily painted since they would be covered by carpet. (I would have done the same!)

My weapons for this mission were Citristrip and my orbital sander. First, Citristrip.

REFURBISHING THE STAIRS PART II-6 copy

I will acknowledge working on stairs is probably harder than some basic furniture projects, but still this work session affirmed I do not like stripping and refinishing wood. It requires patience and is detail oriented, slow work. This same aversion is why I do not like sewing, but salute and envy people who are really good at it.

I need to give it some more thought to decide if it would have actually been better, but I think I maybe should have done the treads before the risers. The stripper removed paint from some of my pretty finished areas too, but touch ups were probably inevitable either way.

Halfway through my Saturday of working on stripping I went down to David (who was working in the basement on building our benches for the table in the sunroom) and said “I literally hate this can you please help me.”

His answer was of course yes and he halted all his excitement and momentum on building the benches to redirect his Saturday toward bailing me out. I am weak willed and he is the best. It is settled.

But regardless of your work ethic, stripping wood can be very stubborn and it is messy. It did not feel like a whole lot of stain came up, and the treads were still pretty dark. If you are dedicated enough to do coat after coat of the stripper you could probably get it all removed, but it was not worth it to me. My goal has never been to make our house look like a new build, so imperfections just become known as “character.”

Next, the sander. I hoped it would blow me away and take off so much of the stain effortlessly. Well, it did not do too much. (BUT, looking back at the before photos as I write this post, there really was kind of a big difference happening and they had lightened a lot from the start.)

With no more tricks up my sleeve, I decided to just test a swatch of the stain I bought to match our floors, Minwax Red Mahogany. What do you know! It was blending really well with the darker stained portion! And it gave me a glimpse of the final product and it looked as though it would be in the ballpark of matching our floors.

All is not lost. Some level of success is plausible!

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