I’m so excited to share our first major project with you: Our staircase renovation!

before and after stairs-001

So, When we bought our house, I had some pretty ambitious ideas for our staircase and Trevor awesomely agreed to the craziness. We decided to tackle this project (mostly) before we moved in so that we weren’t trying to live in the chaos of masses of boxes and half varnished stairs.

Here is what we were starting out with:


The trim around all the stairs had been painted black and the stairs themselves had seen better days. Underneath it all though, was solid oak that was begging for a refurb.


We started off by applying a paint varnish remover. Beware, the varnish remover is pretty potent stuff, so you will want to use a mask if you tackle a project like this!



Trev’s dad helped us out a lot during this process.  Even splitting the workload, it was a pretty big undertaking.


After the varnish remover the sanding began. Trevor and his dad tackled the sanding and started with 40 grit sandpaper with the belt sander and an orbital disk sander. They then moved to 80 grit and then 120, 180 and 220.


Occasionally using a hand sander or a dremel with a sander attachment for the hard to reach places.



We also started to prime all of the trim white. Since we were going from black to white it took 4 (!!) coats to turn all this moulding and trim white. I did seriously consider stripping and refinishing the top railing to match the tops of the stairs, but to be perfectly honest, we were running out of steam in the sanding department and I thought they would look really good all white anyway.

Big shout out to our good friend Alex Dykstra who was a champion painter and also stripped and sanded all the trim pieces for the stairs.  He is a master carpenter in the making ya’ll.  Also to Lindsay Schramm for her priming skills.


After sanding, Trevor conditioned the stairs. The stain needs to be applied within 2 hours of the conditioning process.


Then the staining began. We used a Dark Oak stain.



We just did one coat of stain letting it dry for 8 hours. Next came the varnish. This was an oil based high gloss varnish. This took longer to dry but is the hardest wearing kind of varnish you can apply. We left between 6-8 hours for each coat of the varnish to dry. Can you see why we wanted to do this before we moved in? If we were living here we could have done the every other stair option, but 1) it would have taken twice as long and 2) I think our 2 and 3 year old might have struggled a little to remember to not step on the stairs and what stairs they were allowed to step on.

At this point, it started looking amazing.DSC_9535 DSC_9536

We added the trim back on and the stairs were done!


I’m so happy with how they turned out. 🙂