Wednesday, January 13, 2016

stairs: not as seen on tv

After a few small projects on our own house, I'm starting to wonder if all those home renovation shows on TV are completely staged. I bet someone actually goes in before the filming starts, pulls up the carpet, lays down the hardwood floor, and then puts the old carpet back on top... Just so they can later reveal the perfect flooring hiding underneat the icky carpet. Or, maybe our house is just older than most of the homes that get renovated on TV. It has battle scars from over 100 years worth of questionable design choices, changing trends, and makeshift repairs. Most home reno shows focus on homes less than half as old as ours!

Knowing all this, I really shouldn't have been surprised while working on our latest project: the staircase. We have two half-staircases from the front and back of our house that meet at a landing and then continue to the upstairs as one. The half staircases were both carpeted, the landing was wood, and then the main staircase was wood with a carpet runner. When we decided to replace the upstairs carpet, I had the grand idea to remove the carpet from the stairs and then tackle refinishing of the (hopefully) beautiful hardwood hiding underneath. HA! What we actually found was one half staircase stained and painted dark brown (which matched neither the floors or the other stairs) and the other half staircase covered with at least two coats of chipping paint. Worse than that, every square inch of every surface was completely covered in sticky carpet adhesive. These carpet installers were THOROUGH. That carpet was going to disintegrate (it had already started to) before it was going to shift or wrinkle or budge one inch. I still thought the wood stairs could be salvaged after a few coats of adhesive remover, some paint stripper, and a thorough sanding, but that all sounded dusty and chemically and generally miserable. Instead we just decided to re-carpet the lower portion of the stairs. The carpet runner on the main portion of the stairs removed easily (no carpet padding), and the wood underneath was nicely finished and only slightly damaged from the staples and scratchy carpet backing.

Here's the stairs with the carpet removed (accented with some blue painters tape):

cozy birdhouse | stairs before

In order to match the carpeted half-staircases to the all-wood main staircase a bit better, I decided to paint the trim white on the main staircase. I sanded and applied a little wood filler to the damaged areas, primed, caulked and painted. This process only resulted in one frustrated tearful meltdown (caulking... ARGH!). I might add another coat of polyurethane to the wood treads, but for now I'm just enjoying the pretty trim and squishy carpet!

cozy birdhouse | stairs after

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