Metal Interior Steps: What to do?

armisteadgardensAugust 17, 2008


I have a 1940s cinderblock rowhouse. The interior steps to the second floor are a single piece of molded metal (steel?). Currently they are covered in horrible carpet that my dog has taken to peeing on, so it has to go. Replacing the old carpet with less offensive carpet is not an option, due to above-mentioned dog.

The bullnose on each tread is actually molded into the steps -- which makes it impossible to use laminate flooring on them because the laminate bullnose trim is designed to fit on a 90 degree angle. I talked to a contractor and he said he could fit in pieces of wood under the bullnose to create a 90 degree angle, but it would cost a fortune. Sadly, I do not have a fortune.

I think I have two options:

1. Tile the steps

2. Paint the steps and use stair tread rugs

If I tile the steps, I'll need to find tiles that fit around the bullnoses on the treads. I was thinking of using chair rail tiles, with a lot of thinset to prevent any gaps between the tile and the metal bullnose. Feasible? Ugly? Dangerous? Or simply brilliant?

If I paint them, then what do I do about the transition to the upper level flooring? It is concrete underneath the horrible carpet. I am thinking of just painting the concrete for now and using area rugs. I would like to install laminate up there next year, but if I painted the steps, how would I transition to the upper level without causing enough of a difference in height to cause someone to trip?

Also, does anyone else have painted floors? What do you think about them?

Thanks for any advice!

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Lots of people have painted floors, and concrete's big now too, but until you train your dog (ahem :-), I wouldn't use anything on the steps but either vinyl (which if done by an expert may answer your bullnose problem), or tile. Unless the steel is stainless (how likely would that be?) it's going to rust if your dog keeps going on it! Tile might be perfect if you laminate upstairs because the relative heights of both could address the height-matching problems. There are also various kinds of stripping used to transition between various materials, so you need to find out which would be best for your situation. You might also want to ask kitchen counter dealers about handling the bullnose problem as they have different kinds as well.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 6:19AM
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That is a great idea about talking to kitchen people.

The dog is a Yorkie, so we're talking about a tablespoon of pee at a time, and the steps are 60 years old and incredibly thick, so I don't think they're likely to rust through -- although that would a a news story, don't you think?

Regarding training her, well, she can do 14 tricks and agility courses, but when it comes to her toilet habits, she's pretty stubborn. She's a rescue, and her previous owners got rid of her because of this problem. I work at home so she goes out in the yard constantly, but she'll come in and five minutes later, there's a puddle. I even keep piddle pads for her in the house and she uses them, but not consistently.

I figure the options at this point are get rid of the dog or decorate around her. That's a no-brainer! The dog is here to stay, pee and all.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 12:45AM
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LOL. I have a sixteen year old schnauzer male who 'marks' occasionally. I can't tell you how many floor renovations this has cost us, not to mention an antique china closet he has removed the veneer from. It works better than paint thinner. I'll miss him when he goes, pee and all.

I can't wrap my mind around solid metal stairs (have seen the open ones), but you know, I think I wouldn't mind it at all. It's one of those things sometimes you're better off highlighting than trying to hide. I am thinking jet black lacquer type enamel. Even old wooden farmhouse stairs have been featured on home decorating magazines done this way with stencil work done on the risers. If you have baseboard trim, don't paint it black. You can buy some decently attractive grit or rubber treads to match and secure with adhesive. Much safer than tred rugs, and the dog won't be so interested since they're not fabric.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:31AM
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That is an interesting idea. It's different, and it will look on-purpose, rather than make-do. I'm going to image-google to try to see examples. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 11:21PM
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That's the idea. When you have something so 'pronounced' that anything you to it will look like you're hiding something......then you take a perspective like a cat does, lol, " I meant to do that!"

Frankly, I do not know what type of decorating you are fond of, but shiny clean black painted steps will not look too out of place with any one of a number of themes, from provincial to industrial or minimalist.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 6:13PM
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I forgot to mention I got that idea from an old Canadian farm house Debbie Travis redid on "Painted House" on HGTV years ago. I have a very old house with wooden steps. I really, really don't want to have to strip them down, as they have been painted through the years before we got this house. It's such an old house, it's not like it's fine hardwood......but more like planks. I may do mine like that. Been thinking on it really hard, so I'm prejudiced. LOL.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Well, I'm also thinking about painting the upstairs concrete floors now. I just got back from HD and the people at the paint counter were outraged that I wanted to paint designs on my floor. According to them, it can't be done! Impossible! But I've been googling and have seen lots of painted floors that look great and were not porch-and-floor gray.

One thing leads to another.... I started my home renovation by just planning to move a sink. Then, wth, I put in a new kitchen. Then new floors on the first level...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 10:04PM
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"I just got back from HD and the people at the paint counter were outraged that I wanted to paint designs on my floor. According to them, it can't be done! Impossible!"

I had to laugh. Been there, yup.

Of course, this means that you MUST move ahead with your project exactly as you have visualized it, and that it will end up being fabulous.

I used to joke that I knew a remodeling project would turn out great as soon as I heard the magic words... a contractor or HD employee asking "whad'ya wanna do THAT for, lady?".

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 9:19PM
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