Fix Something Around My House: Staircase

Fix Something Around My House: Staircase

Annie Werbler
Oct 21, 2009

After a monumental DIY fail with my stairs last week, I've had to regroup in order to move forward with the project. Today, I get down to business, and I'm about to show you how.

After unearthing a mess on the first couple of steps last week, I quickly realize that refinishing the original wood won't be possible, so I come up with an alternate plan. I'll remove all the tacky linoleum on the stair treads, and replace it with a very flexible paper-backed veneer to match the hardwood in the rest of the apartment. I also realize that the linoleum on the risers is still in good shape, so that can be painted a solid color.

This morning I start by pulling up all the linoleum panels on the treads, which is much easier than it should be. It comes off in one piece like a sticker. Then I take a spackle knife and try to tear away as much of the adhesive tarpaper left as possible. Finally, I pull out my trusty sander and try to get the surfaces as even as possible. I also sand the banister and stringer in anticipation of paint.

All that sanding makes a huge mess, and somehow deposits black dust beneath my mask and goggles. I'm a little unnerved but then realize I value design above personal safety, and decide to continue before I have time to contemplate what this choice says about me. All the surfaces get clean enough with a little sweeping and vacuuming, and I'm left with a huge pile of debris at the foot of the stairs.

After much tidying, I head over to the local paint store and get a low-VOC primer with all the fixings. At home I begin what will amount to many hours of painting. After two coats of snow-white primer, all the poo-brown paint and tie-dyed linoleum are gone! What's left is a clean slate. Sure, there's a lot of work ahead, but I could not be more excited. Color is the next step. This is about to get fun.

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