Ever since our move to our new loft in July, it was painfully obvious from day one that the cat scratch looking carpeted floating stairs were destined for an extreme makeover. The design of the original staircase was not that bad, but the floating stairs desperately needed updating. The only thing that kept my candle burning through 2 months of on and off back breaking work was the $4,000+ quote we initially received from a local contractor. So I set out with a $500 budget in mind and a bucket full of blood, sweat and tears. I think it turned out amazing, what do you think?
My total DIY cost Approx. $500.00
- Stain = $100.00
- Paint = $30.00
- Paint Stripper = $15.00
- Brushes = $30.00
- Sandpaper = $30.00
- Random hand and Power Tools (Sander, Drill, Plyers, Ect.) = $150.00
- Hinges + screws = $100.00
- My Time = it’s my house, my investment, I like doing it, and it’s done right so this is something I can’t calculate, it’s a state of mind.
If you want to catch up on the entire remodel process, here are the previous blog entries –
Floating Stairs Blog Entry 1 – Plan of Attack
Floating Stairs Blog Entry 2 – The Process
The original pine timbers hiding under the carpet became an object of my DIY obsession. The only way to achieve the rustic look was to give these pine planks six sanding sessions and three layers of stain (mixed with blood sweat and tears). Some call it DIY O.C.D (Andrea) but I like to call it “thorough”. After all the last thing I wanted is for the steps to look manufactured. I am happy to say, they have a very handmade look to them and add a level of warmth to the home that is welcoming and immediately noticed by guests and family. If you are wondering where the handrail is, we actually recycled it and are considering a modern handrail along the wall.
One of the biggest challenges was finding 26 custom brackets that would support the weight of people on the stairs and not completely bankrupt us. After doing a ton of research and calling around, I discovered that a reasonable deal was more than $500-$600 for blah looking painted metal. The budget and design standards (set by Andrea) would not allow for traditional supports, which meant we had to come up with a plan B. That’s when I started looking into nickel plated door hinges, but quickly found out that those along with mounting screws topped almost $20 a piece and I would need in excess of 50 to support the stairs properly. Quick Side Note: For a neat trick on how to remove old stripped bolts like the crusty ones under the stairs – check out this Dremel tool dance I came up with.
On my way to Home Depot, a neighbor suggested a local architectural salvage shop. To our surprise, in a dark corner of the salvage shop in a ratty old box lay 60, nearly new, super shiny metal commercial grade decorative hinges with stainless steel screws. If I told you how much Andrea and I paid for them, you would beat me up, but since I have to brag, I’ll tell you less than 100 bucks for the entire box with screws.
Mounting the brackets took a few days because I first marked the position I wanted them in, then drilled pilot holes for the screws to make sure they went in straight and wouldn’t split the timbers.
Before painting the support beams a super bright white I primed them with Rustoleum Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water Based Primer which helped to cover up the dark brown splotches of paint leftover from 1973.
If you wondering where the beautiful walnut color comes from, well, after much research, I tracked down an environmentally safe Wood Stain by a company called Bioshield. This is not a product promotion for them, I did pay retail for the stain and I am thrilled with the results. The nice thing about using a super low VOC stain is that you can use it indoors. During most applications, I applied the stain at night before we went to bed and just left the windows open. The stain is water soluble and is easy to clean up. I was more than impressed.
Here are a few more photos of the finished product.
I’m incredibly proud of my refinished stairs but I’m not gonna lie, sometimes when I look at them my back starts to hurt from the memories of crouching over them for two months straight! Completely worth it in the end.