DIY Staircase Remodel

1 Week

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Ginger & The Huth
As we slowly transformed our house by replacing upstairs and downstairs floors we eventually came to a point where the carpeted stairs were a huge eyesore and had to go. We had replaced the upstairs with wood and wanted to use the same flooring on the stairs.
So, here’s the before picture. It’s messy, don’t judge ;-)
Going into this project we weren't sure if mis-matching the downstairs dark floors with the light upstairs floors was a terrible mistake. But we went ahead with it and used 3/4″ Handscraped Hickory from lumber liquidators. For the other parts of the stairs we wanted white risers, white stair skirt, and a dark walnut handrail. We were hoping the walnut handrail and banister would help tie the dark floors into everything.
After ripping out the carpet and removing all the carpet tac and staples, we used a combination of our circular/jig saws to chop off the chipboard bullnose.
Next up I started my faux newel post. It was pretty simple, I just wrapped 1×10 poplar boards around each corner. I made the top and bottom of the stairs approximately 55" from the floor. While the landing newell post is different heights depending on which stair you measure it from.
Shims came in handy to get everything square, because what wall is ever square? On the first floor newel post I learned the hard way and ended up with an off square post so I corrected it via chisel and hand planer.
For the baseboards on the top newel posts I wrapped 1x10 around the bottom. For the middle/bottom the baseboards range in size in order to run a clean line from stair skirt to baseboards.
Next up we cut the stair skirt. We followed THIS and found it to be very helpful. That being said, this was the hardest part of this project. We cut four stair skirts for this remodel and they all turned out decent.
Once the newel posts, stair skirt, and landing trim were all in place we divided and conquered. After putting down vapor barrier I installed the stair risers (we used pine wood), puttied nail holes, sanded, and painted as fast as I could while my husband started installing the floor. He did the back pieces of the stairs first and waited to do the bullnose so I could get paint on the stair risers/skirt. I wanted to avoid having to paint around bullnose as much as possible.
I didn't get any good pictures of the banister/railing re-do. We ended up sanding down the hand rails and staining them dark walnut. For the banisters and the top of the newel posts we used real walnut and it turned out beautifully! The top part of the banister is about 3/4″ thick while the sides are closer to 1/4″. We kept the tops of the newell posts small, and rounded the edges with a router.
**if you're interested in how we made the bookshelf door you can read about it here:
This is one DIY I would do over and over again! It was totally worth all the hardwork!

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Ginger & The Huth

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 17 questions
  • Paula Mandrell
    on Aug 30, 2017

    What does bullnose me?
    • Anne Brennan
      on Sep 16, 2017

      The rouded face edge of the step that extends beyond the riser. This project called for removing the bull nose to make a squared edge on the top front edge of the step.
  • Margaret Cowden
    on Jan 4, 2018

    where do you buy the bull nose and the price?
    • PAMELA
      on Jan 13, 2019

      Hello, I have the same ugly builder trash, hiding under nasty carpet. I am so delighted to see your fab project! I am at a loss for finding the bullnose wood at HD or Lowes.. HOW WIDE IS THE BULLNOSE PLANK, SINCE IT COULD ROCK AND ROLL OFF THE TREAD IF NOT WIDE ENOUGH TO STAY PUT, EXCUSE CAPS..THANKS..HELP..PAM

  • Joan
    on Mar 9, 2019

    Several years ago a carpenter rebuilt our stairs and we had someone come out and put carpet on them. We took to carpet off and removed all the staples etc. on one side of the stairs there is about 1/2" gap on each stair, everything else looks really good and clean, but I don't know what to do about the gap. Can you give me any advice? Thanks

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