Stairway to Heaven

Actually, our old stairway could be more accurately titled the stairway from hell. The word “ugly” doesn’t do it justice. When we bought the house it had stained green carpeting, oak balusters and railings, unpainted spackle, and the same paint as the day the house was first sold. Our stairway is the first thing you see when you walk in our front door and it needed some attention right away.

Stairway before

During moving week, we replaced the carpet. We tore out the old carpet ourselves to save some money and replaced the carpet in the stairway, upstairs hall, our master bedroom, and dining room. I don’t want carpet in our dining room, but replacing the floors on the entire first floor is still a long ways away. The old owner’s dog used the dining room carpet as it’s bathroom so it had to go ASAP. The carpet is Stainmaster from Lowe’s and we paid to have it installed by them.

While the carpet was ripped up, we quickly painted the balusters white. It was such a spur of the moment decision. Someone had out a can of white paint because they were fixing up the window trim and I said hey we should paint that too! So we did. That week was such a blur that I can’t remember if I painted them, my mom, or my mother-in-law. Either way, the balusters were painted and it was a huge improvement.

We painted the stairway and the majority of the first floor Iced Chocolate by Valspar. By “we” I mean my father-in-law and friend, Jess. That first week we had a ton of help and knocked out pretty much all of the painting. We painted every. single. room.

One day, I was shopping at Target and I found a frame set on clearance for $12 dollars. I picked up scrapbook paper from Michael’s and hung the frame collage in the stairway. Things were really starting to come together, but it wasn’t perfect yet.

Scrapbook collage

We lived with it like this for over a year, but every time I walked past those oak railings, they made me cringe. I hate oak, I really really do so I decided to stain them walnut. You might be thinking, why would you stain your railings walnut, when the floors in the same room are oak? My rationale is why should I keep something I hate to match something else I hate? I also think it will be a kick in the pants to save money for new flooring downstairs. I’d love to do that within the next two or so years.

To stain the railings, here’s what I did:

Stairway collage

I used 120 grit sandpaper and sanded until I took off the shine from the last stain. Then I wiped the railings down with a rag to remove all of the sand and dirt. Then I started staining. I used Rust-Oleum Stain in Kona, which is a dark walnut color. I bought the stain months ago when we made our headboard so I didn’t spend anything on it for this project. I used a foam brush for the bottom side of the railings because it gave me more control. You can pick that up at any craft store for under a dollar.

To apply the stain, I used a regular paint brush with just a bit of stain. I really worked the stain in by brushing repeatedly even after my brush was dry. I wanted the railings dark, but I didn’t want the stain to be so thick that you couldn’t see any of the wood grain.

Stairs middle

For the top railing, it was held in place by 4 screws. I easily removed it from the wall and I stained it in the basement on top of 2 saw horses. I let it dry over night before reattaching it.

Stair finished 3

Stairs finished 2

Stairs finished 4

Stairs finished 5

Stairs finished

Project Supplies:
Painters Tape
120 Grit Sandpaper
Drop Cloth

I already had everything but the painters tape, which I picked up from The Dollar General for $3.50. I probably used less than a dollar’s worth. Do you have any oak you’re dying to get rid of? Do it! You’ll be much happier. Trust me.