Stop ‘Stair’ing

How it all began

There are many different reasons projects get started. Sometimes they are started out of a desire to improve your decor or to upgrade something that’s outdated. On the other hand, sometimes they are started because your Chimney Sweep tells you your house smells like “wet dog”. This project was one of the latter ones.
What’s That Smell?

Back in 2014 when we purchased our current home, my brain was on overload on where to begin. To say the house was in bad shape is an understatement. It was disturbingly bad. To help you understand the level of disturbance, I’ll paint you a picture.

The first things that HAD to be taken care of were the smells! That’s right, the smells in the house were something right out of a movie. The most prevalent smell was that of smoke. The wood burning fireplace was in desperate need of cleaning. It was so bad that you could smell it in the whole house, especially when it rained. The other equally horrendous smell was the carpet. It smelled like wet dog.

Right off, we made an appointment for the carpet to be replaced. The bad news was, after calling all around town, the soonest it could be replaced was four weeks out. While we were in a holding pattern with the carpet replacement we did get a chimney sweep to come. The Chimney sweep looked like a cross between an old school plumber and Van Dyke from “Marry Poppins.” As we invited him into the house, mind you he deals with smoke and ash smell all day, he says, “What is that smell? It smells like WET DOG!”

Yes, yes it does.

Removing The Carpet

The stairs were also covered with carpet. To help move things along we decided we would remove the carpet ourselves. As we got closer to the smell it wasn’t so much ‘wet dog’ as much as ‘smelly feet’.


Once the carpet was removed, we found that we had really nice wood on the stairs. Most of the time this isn’t the case unless you have an older home. In one of our previous homes we removed the carpet only to find OSB. We then had to replace each step with real wood. In this case however, the wood wasn’t oak but it was real and in good enough shape to refinish instead of replace.


The banister was completely separated from the wall and the finish on it was eaten off. I decided that, it too, could use a makeover. I got my palm sander out and got started by removing all the balusters (spindles). I didn’t have many to replace so I decided to replace them with Black metal spindles from Home Depot. They were about $10 a piece. I waited until after I had refinished the stairs before installing them. It made it so much easier to sand the treads with them out of the way.

For the stain, I used Jacob Bean by Minwax for the color of my fancy new stairs. This whole process took about 3 days, allowing 24 hours between coats on the polyurethane. I also sanded lightly with 150 grit between coats.

After the stairs were finished, I decided that I wanted the risers to be white. I also decided that I wanted to doll them up a bit, so I custom made framing boxes around each  stair face. I love the results and it also helped to close up any gaps between the risers and the treads.


Later on, we redid the tile in the entryway. We replaced it with wood flooring. These are the finished photos with the flooring in place.





6 Comments on “Stop ‘Stair’ing

  1. Do I remember that day well that you and I tore up that nasty stair carpet 🤪🤪🤪🤪

  2. Seeing the before and after pictures make a huge difference in viewing this project. Great presentation and the final project is amazing.

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