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Refinishing Hardwood Stairs

When we first bought this house our stairs to the bedrooms on the second floor looked like this. The runner doesn’t look so bad in this photo but in reality it was badly stained and worn, and I could not wait to tear it out!

On the day that we had our upstairs wall-to-wall carpets replaced, I was so fired up when the installers were ripping out the old carpet up there that I spontaneously decided to remove the stair runner myself right then. By the time the upstairs carpets had been laid I had the runner off and was busy pulling out the 79773 staples from the treads. I was so happy to say good riddance to that disgusting thing!!

I painted the spindles and risers white, and that made such a difference to the feel of our house!

Then I took a break from working on the stairs to finish painting the rest of the house interior. The plan was to eventually stain the rails dark and refinish the beat up treads the same shade as our natural red oak floors.

But things don’t always go according to plan, now do they? We loved the contrast of the dark rail with the light treads,

but after many hours of stripping and sanding, I realized that some of our old, stained, tired treads either needed to be replaced OR……this dramatic alternative!



Eventually I added a seagrass stair runner to these stairs and installed a board and batten style wall treatment in the foyer and on the stairwell.
The big big big project we have been waiting to tackle is ripping out that tile floor at the bottom of these stairs and replacing it with hardwoods! Little by little a house becomes a home!
Have a great day!


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Saturday 2nd of July 2016

Hello! Your stairs are just lovely and I'm hoping to try this- at least by painting the stairs- could you share what type of paint or stain you used on the treads? It looks gorgeous! I'm dying to rip up the nasty carpet on my stairs.


Tuesday 5th of July 2016

Hi Mary! I stripped the treads with Citristrip, a gel stripper, then stained them but there were stains on them that were coming through even though I sanded them with a palm sander and cleaned them really well before staining, so I ended up using Polyshades on them, which is a product that has the stain and the polyurethane combined. The product actually sits on top of the wood like paint does, but gives it the appearance of stain. It can chip like paint if it's in a high traffic area, but because I put a runner on my stairs the sides have held up great. The dark color is hard to keep looking clean though - every speck of dust shows. I would go a shade or two lighter if I had it to do again! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comment. Good luck with your project!

judy mccoy

Thursday 7th of April 2016

This is beautiful , do you remember the stain color . Would like to try this.


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

The bannister is Polyshades Ebony. I emailed you about the steps!

Ann Morrison, MA, CCC-SLP

Friday 21st of June 2013

I just found the picture of your steps on Pinterest. I know it's been awhile so I was wondering how the finish held up. We have dogs and I'm hoping you say it did.

Cristina Garay

Tuesday 3rd of July 2012

I love how your steps turned out!!! I want to do that to mine, but I'm kind of affraid at how it's going to look with dark steps and the rest of the floors on a light shade?! Maybe I have to begin with the rails as you did!


Wednesday 23rd of November 2011

i would like to do the same with our stairs but under our carpet is crappy particleboard treads and risers. i went to home depot to price out the cost of replacing them and i think i am going to have to find them second hand....they were $10 for the treads and i could probably do the risers with mdf but the cost is prohibitive... i love the way yours turned out....i am pinning it for further consideration...

hugs, cindy