Rustic Unfinished Staircase Makeover

7 Materials
$20
1 Day
Easy

This isn't your run of the mill staircase makeover, I wanted to achieve a rustic unfinished look for the staircase leading up to our bonus room. Since it was covered in gross carpet, I pulled the carpet away and found potential with some beautiful 2x4 yellow pine. Here is how I finished off our staircase during our staircase makeover.

rustic unfinished staircase makeover

1 | Remove the Carpet


I simply took a box cutter and cut through the carpet to get started and pulled it apart. The carpet was held into place with tack strips which I had to carefully pry off using a pry bar. Then I just popped out the staples that were left.

rustic unfinished staircase makeover

2 | Sand the Treads


There was a ton of crud on the stairs. My guess was texture spray from when the house was built. I used a scraper to get off as much as possible, then I used my favorite oscillating handtool with the sanding attachment and sanded the wood down. Talk about a dusty job.

rustic unfinished staircase makeover

3 | Installed Underlayment as the Riser


I grabbed a sheet and ripped it down with our table saw (all of which can be done at your local home improvement store) and cut them to fit over the particle board risers. With the treads being whitewashed, I wanted an all white riser. 

rustic unfinished staircase makeover

4 | Whitewashed the Treads


Similar to my brick fireplace whitewash, I created a mixture of 1:2 white paint to water. Mixing it well, I brushed it on then scrubbed it down with a piece of cloth. Making sure to get the entire step covered. I wanted a super thin coat of paint, so I also used a paper towel to wipe up any excess paint.

rustic unfinished staircase makeover

5 | Finish with a Top Coat


If you are working with a high traffic area, you can use a satin polyurethane to seal in the paint and prevent wear. To see the full project tutorial and more finished photos, please check out my blog post.

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

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Ma
    on Nov 12, 2018

    Since you laid this over the existing treads, does this increase the height of the steps?

    • Kate
      on Nov 12, 2018

      What happens at the top where I assume there is still carpet?

  • Linda Bartlett
    on Nov 12, 2018

    Did you leave the gap between the riser and the wall?I'd like to know how to fix that problem?

    • Penny Cavve
      on Nov 13, 2018

      Use a small quarter round moulding along the edge if you do not like the small gap.

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