Anyone ever DIY refinishing wood floors on staircase?

beths96September 10, 2010

Hi everyone! Well, I would like to rip up the 9-year-old carpet on my staircase leading upstairs to our second floor, sand the part you step on (forgive me for not knowing the correct words!), and paint the backs of the stairs semi-gloss white to match my trim in the house.

A little background: We rented a sander and refinished the original wood floors in 2001. I still have the stain color, so it shouldn't be a problem matching the colors.

Also, my husband used a hand sander machine two years ago to sand the finish on our front porch, so I know HE knows how to do this...but I want to take the burden of this job off of him, and do it myself!

So first of all, has anyone done this?

Second, how hard is it to remove wall-to-wall carpeting on a staircase? What tools would I need?

Third, how much time will I need to give the poly to dry before being able to step on it? It might be a problem, because all our bedrooms and our main bath with the only shower is upstairs, and I have two small kids (5 and 3).

Thank you!

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Here are some pictures:

Living room right next to stairs:

I should add that we refinished the floors in the LR, DR, and kitchen. My eventual plan is to rip out the carpet in the upstairs bedrooms and refinish those, but I'm trying to take it slowly. We've had a lot of remodeling going on here this summer, so I just need a little project right now!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:26AM
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Your house is beautiful - you did a great job on the floors.

We redid our stairs several years ago. Since you already know how to refinish the wood the carpet removal is going to be a breeze. Make sure you wear leather gloves and eye projection. There are nails and staples involved and they can fly around in the process.

Just get a grip on a corner somewhere and pull. Once you start, the rest of the piece should come up. There will be tack strips that were used to hold the carpet in place and these are what take time to remove. You will need a pry bar (they come in various sizes, use a smaller one), a taping knife or a stiffer putty knife, a nail puller and possibly a plyers.

Carefully slide the taping knife under the tack strip and lift slightly, starting at one end and moving along the strip after each lift. Once you get some room between the strip and the floor, you can use the pry bar at the nail locations to pry it off. Usually you have to balance your lifts so it comes off in one piece. Occasionally you will break the strip and be left with just a nail, hence the nail puller. We had staples all over too, from the pad. you have to carefully lift those (with a thin flat head screwdriver) and pull with the pliers.

You can do all your prep work and still have everybody walk on it but you might want to cover with resin paper until you are ready to refinish. The kids and I were gone when my husband did the finishing but you should be able to put everybody to bed, work backwards up the stairs
to finish at the top and let it dry overnight. The finish should handle light traffic by morning.

Since you have an older home I recommend having a portable fire escape ladder in your bedroom upstairs. You could use this in case you absolutely had to go back down to the main level and when the floor is done, you still have it for fire emergencies.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:57AM
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We did it a few years ago too. It's pretty much what skyedog said. DH put down 1 coat of poly in the a.m. and it was fine to walk on by bedtime. The second coat went on the next day or possibly even the day after...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 3:47PM
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For inspiration, pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some nice music, and dive into our Gallery thread on stairs. There are lots of pretty staircases and great ideas for how to decorate them and what's around them. Yummm.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 4:19PM
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I follow a blog by Rhoda from Southern Hospitality and she blogged about her experience with redoing stairs not to long ago. Here is the link.....

Do you know how your wood looks unders the stairs? Is it in good condition or will there be a lot of prep work? I just did this and I ended up rebuilding the risers and kicks because I had bad wood under the carpet. I am still not all the way done with mine. I painted he kicks black and stained the top of the risers. I used a all in one stain because like you all our bedrooms are upstairs and we have 3 children and 3 dogs.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Do you know if the treads (part you step on) are Oak - your beautiful floors appear to be Oak - or some other species? Reason I ask is that sometime the treads and / or landings are paint grade Pine which doesn't stain quite as nicely as your floor and there may be some trim work needed to get the stairwell to look nice once the carpet is removed.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:25PM
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When we did ours, the best thing we did was tape off the rest of the house to stop the dust - just make sure you rent a respirator (esp. if it is an older home).

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 10:07PM
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I took the easy out when I wanted to get rid of my ugly old carpet. I wanted a fancy runner but they're so expensive, and I knew the stairs underneath were just crummy old wood, probably with wall texture slopped on them.

So I went to a carpet remnant place and bought a chunk of patterned carpet and had them install it. This is the result:

That's not a great photo, but I get oohs and aaahs on it from visitors, so good 'enuf. I have a split entry (stairs up, pergo landing, stairs down, carpet landing) and the whole job came in under $400 installed and I didn't have to do any work. So there is another alternative for you if you're not fond of hard work. I figure I got off easy.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Thank you ALL for your responses! They are very helpful, and informative!

I got the nerve up to pull up some carpet today...after talking with my hubby and getting his approval, and here's what the step looks like:

So, much better than I thought, although, what is with that skinny strip that's lighter? Did they have a runner there at one time? When we bought the house, there was carpeting down from the late 60's, so who knows what it was like before that!

Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 1:22PM
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And more:

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 2:57PM
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When you're ready to stain the stairs, stain every other step, let dry before doing the rest.
This way you can still use them if necessary.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 1:14AM
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I'm in the process of refinishing our front stairs this week. We pulled the carpet off yesterday to reveal the pine underneath. I'll be painting the risers white and only refinishing the treads. Though the pine isn't great looking, with a little stain topped with a semi-gloss finish, it will still be much better than the nasty carpet that came out. The picture was taken right after the carpet was removed. The top step shows the carpet as it was, as that piece of carpet hadn't been pulled yet.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 8:17AM
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A wall-to-wall carpeting on a staircase is very much hardly to install it. If installing taking so hard, it's also the same hardly when it removes. So definitely it is hardly remove of carpet specially if that is wall-to-wall carpeting. Need tools for removing carpet are, work gloves, utility knife, pliers, needle nose pliers, hammer, pry bar, safety glasses vacuum cleaner or broom.

Here is a link that might be useful: craftmatic

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 9:48AM
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Now that you removed the carpeting, you can see that the hardest part is removing all the gizillian staples.

You'll need pliers, screwdriver, dikes, (there is also staple lifters)...use whatever it takes, and start having fun.
The sanding is the easy part once all the staples are removed.
good luck,

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 10:11AM
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I did! It honestly was not that hard, and I'm not a DIY expert by any stretch of the imagination.

Check out the details here on my blog.

The pictures are posting on here waaaay too big, so I'm not going to include them here.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Stairs

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 3:43PM
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