Ideas for small staircase...beqadboard, wainscot, nothing?

kdw72697August 13, 2010

Hello all,

I have a question about beadboard, drywall, and board-and-batten on *really* small stairs.

Our small (1500 sq ft) house also has tiny stairs. They're only 32" wide and the ceiling is very low. The tallest point is on the landing: 6' 9". As you walk up the long stretch of stairs the slanted ceiling is only about 6' 7" from the step you're on.

We're in the process of refinishing the whole area and we'd really like to put *something* on the walls to provide some nice detail and protect them from damage. If you can see the maroon wall in the photos, you can see all the patching we've had to do to cover up the many, many nicks, dings, and holes! From stairs From stairs From stairs From stairs

My DH loves the partway-up-the-wall look:

Attic Mag Beadboard Stairs

TDC Board Batten Stairs

But dividing up a less-than-7-feet-tall wall might only emphasize it's "shortness".

We could put beadboard on the full length of the wall all the way up the stairs, but that might emphasize the stairwell's narrowness.

Or we could just paint and keep a bucket of drwyall mud out on the coffee table for daily repairs. ;)

So any opinions welcome! No matter what, this isn't going to look like a 2-story entrance foyer, but it would be nice for people to not feel like they're visiting the Keebler Elves when they see/use the stairs.

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

We've had vinyl wall-paper for 15 years, on a straight run stairway. It's out of style, but still serviceable after daily abuse from three kids. If you're going for beadboard, I like the half-wall pic from atticmag:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:02PM
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In such a small area, I'd simply paint the wall. Adding beadboard, wainscoting, etc. is going to make it look too claustrophobic. At least that's my opinion. Others may differ LOL.

Why are there so many nicks and dings? Is a metal robot walking up the stairs every day?

We saw several houses like this last year when we were looking. They were century old worker's cottages. We didn't consider those homes mostly because there was no way to get anything but a twin bed up the stairs, if we were lucky.

Good luck! It doesn't look that bad at all! I've seen smaller!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:05PM
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Hi. Glad to see you among us.
First of all, I'd NIX the board and batten. If you think the wall will be damaged with drywall, just wait until you see what happens with those strips of BATTEN which stick up a half inch. Every piece of furniture you want to move up/down the stairs, will tend to catch on the battens, and it won't take long before there is damage to the wood, not merely to the painted finish.

Also, if you think the beadboard will emphasize the narrowness of the stairs, so will those battens.

Of course, there is the option of BEADBOARD WALLPAPER. It is very strong stuff, very paintable too. Using it as a chairrail/wainscoting with only a flat cap at the top will not be as costly as the real thing...nor will it take away any of your valuable stair width.

It would only be on one side of the stairwell anyway, since your bannister takes the entire other side.

In my case, we have a very narrow and STEEP stair with drywall on both sides in our Massachusetts cape. It does not have the luxury of the bannisters on even ONE side. And it has gotten a few dings, but not as many as you'd think. Even when I was moving large chests down the stairs by myself (they slid nicely on the carpeted stairs when turned upside down), and one got away from me, it did not damage the drywall--instead, it reached the bottom and fell over against the bedroom door which it busted...I never did like that door anyway.

Now I have the beadboard wallpaper, and I am about to apply it to our stairwell. Instead of calling attention to the narrowness of the stairs, it will provide a different focus without taking up ANY more space.

There are a couple of beadboard threads on this forum, and I think you can find them with a search on BEADBOARD sure to use the search box at the BOTTOM OF THIS FORUM'S MAIN PAGE. The wallpaper is very tough and durable. Available from at least two sources: Home Depot online, and Southern Hospitality blog as well. I have purchased from both places and it is the same product, same price, manufactured in England, of excellent quality.
Every now and then Rhoda drops in here. She is the owner of the Southern Hospitality blog, and sells that paper.

Here is a link that might be useful: Southern Hospitality beadboard wallpaper project

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Posted by krycek1984: Why are there so many nicks and dings? Is a metal robot walking up the stairs every day?

*waving my arm frantically* I know! I know!

Kids, right? They throw stuff down the stairs and it bounces off the end wall. Am I right???? Ask me how I know that? *grin*

If that's it, I have an idea. Even though it's not popular any more, you could put batting and fabric on that end wall. If you don't want to do that, you could paint a multi-color (not garish) faux and the dents and touch-ups wouldn't show.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 5:58PM
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LOL, marti8a, being a "kidless" household, I do not think of these things, thank you for knocking some sense into me.

As an adult, I have never nicked and dinged our stairwell, but I tell you what...we had a gate up at the bottom of the stairs to keep the dogs downstairs. And I decided that I was going to use the banister to hold on to as I propelled myself over the gate.

Ooops! There goes the banister! Partner wasn't happy when he got home and the banister was on the floor with two holes in the wall!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 8:40PM
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HA!! marti8a wins!! Yes, the majority of the dents are from my son's toddler years, when many a truck/train/lego/some other angular toy was thrown down the stairs. He plays little league now, so he reserves his throwing for the ball field. ;)

The rest are from furniture getting moved up or down the stairs and from anything else long and somewhat inflexible - curtain rods, large toys, etc.

Thanks, mama_goose, I love the room in that link. It reminds me of the inns in Anapolis, MD. And that ceiling isn't high...

Moccasinlanding, I think you just saved me a whole lot of headache. I never thought about the battens themselves getting damaged, or the fact that they'd stick out. I'll cross that idea off the list!

I have thought about using beadboard wallpaper there and it would sure be easier to cut than panel beadboard. Still mulling that over. A very nice person on the kitchen forum sent me some leftovers a year or so ago, so I even have some left to play with.

krycek1984, we were so young and clueless when we bought this house we didn't even *think* about stuff like moving furniture. You can bet we're a lot pickier now! When we moved in initially we took down the railing to get our queen box spring and our triple dresser up the stairs. When our kids were born and eventually needed single beds, we found that it was easier to open the upstairs windows all the way and slide the box springs and mattresses in. Now we're planning to get rid of the triple dresser and we realize we have to do it RIGHT NOW before we finish up the stairs lest we wreck our own handiwork with a runaway dresser!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 10:15PM
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Krycek, I can empathize with your use of the banister.
What I do is remember the old boat maxim: One hand for the boat, one hand for the self. Only carry stuff in ONE hand, and hold on with the other.

But I had perfected a different technique, since I also believe in letting one trip do it.

What I do when I must come down stairs, especially steep and narrow ones like DH's cape, is to lean my back against the wall and sort of slide down sideways. I do not trust keeping one hand on the railing, because my knees are not 100% operational. Leaning against the wall steadies me and also keeps me from tipping forward.

Also, I've discovered you can eliminate a lot of trips DOWN the stairs if you just throw the stuff to the bottom into one pile. Especially on laundry day. :) If DH is anywhere in the vicinity he will holler out, "HERE!" But it sure does help get the chores finished to toss em down the stairs, even down to the basement.

I've tried to figure a way to install a small laundry chute from the 2nd floor down to the basement, but too many obstacles.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:18AM
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