Is it just me or are carpeted stairs becoming a thing of the past? Vacuuming them is a complete nightmare. I never feel like I'm getting them completely clean no matter what angle I go in at or what attachments I use. And to be blunt, with the exception of a good runner, most of the time carpet on stairs just isn't attractive. To me, it’s out of style (if it was ever even in,) and it’s not coming back any time soon.
The carpet in my home was the original carpet that was installed when the house was built eight-ish years ago. That isn't very long, but I don't think my husband and I took the best care of it over the years. Taking our shoes off at the door or wiping our dog's paws wasn't mandatory and eventually dirt and grime starts to show on carpet. You could definitely see that the first few steps were much darker than the last ones on the top from dirty shoes. I tried cleaning the carpet a few times, but the carpet wasn't of the best quality in the first place. It's hard to make cheap builder's grade carpet look new again.
When I started researching stair upgrades I came across a blogger who referred to her beige builder's grade carpet as "muppet skin." She couldn't have been more hilariously accurate. It does look like muppet skin! Gross! As soon as I decided the carpet had to go, I couldn't take my mind off the idea. I decided to peel back a bit of the carpet to see what was underneath and to my surprise we had pine treads! The risers turned out to be plywood, but I figured I could find a way to work with it without having to replace anything.
I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. There were tons of stair redo ideas, mostly with stained wood treads. I couldn't go for that idea, as much as I would have liked to because I loathe the orange laminate wood flooring in our house and I did not want to match that. I also didn't want anything to clash with it. So painting the treads and risers seemed to be the best option. I considered painting the treads black and the risers white, but the more I delved into Pinterest for inspiration, the more I realized what I really loved was super clean, white stairs. White treads and white risers. I could sweep them and wipe them down, and I would be able to see every speck of dust on them, which I love because then I know when they are dirty!
Here's a look at what they looked like before with the "muppet skin" carpet.
I don't want to hide dirt in my house. Items like a brown couch or brown carpeting that are made to hide dirt are strange to me. And maybe it's because I don't have children yet, but I want to know when something is dirty so that I can clean it and feel satisfied knowing that it is truly clean.
Naively, I thought this project would be a "weekend project" like most things I take on. Maybe if you have one set of stairs in your home you could knock it out in a weekend, but we have three stories and two sets of stairs, so this actually took a couple of weeks working on it during weekends and after work.
First I ripped the carpet and padding up. Then I removed all of the staples, nails and anything else that shouldn't be there. You'd be surprised what you'd find under your carpet! Years of dirt, grime, dog hair and anything else that comes in on the bottom of your shoes weaves its way through the carpet. It's pretty disgusting and I knew I was making the right choice after seeing all of that. When they built our house they sprayed the walls with paint before they laid the carpet down, so there was a ton of paint built up on the treads and random globs of caulk as well. I used a gel paint remover to scrape all of that off. After that I was able to sand the treads down and fill any blemishes with wood putty. I made sure all of my treads were as smooth as I could get them and then I painted them. I used a porch and concrete paint to paint these because I was told it was a little more durable and less susceptible to wear and tear. I did two coats of white paint and three coats of clear, matte polycrylic sealant. As I said before, I couldn't be happier with the results!
Check out my youtube video on a further look into the process and upkeep of these stairs.