Mike & Sandie's Foyer: Finishing the Stairs

Mike & Sandie's Foyer: Finishing the Stairs

Jul 24, 2014
The faux bois treatment on the stairs.

Name: Mike and Sandie
Type of Project: Foyer renovation
Location: Saskatoon; Saskatchewan, Canada
Type of building: 2 1/2 story single-family home, built in 1919

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Here we are at week seven and despite the “oh, you’re renovating an old house... here’s an epic, expensive, and urgent surprise you didn’t anticipate!” song and dance, we’re back on track-ish. We’d like to thank: lots of coffee.

The closet doors are still waiting to arrive, posts need finishing, the walls have an unclear future, and there is a very long to-do list of bits and bobs... but that’s cool because we totally rocked this staircase like a boss.

The finished (well, almost finished) staircase.

Oh, these stairs! Definietly the challenge of this room (no, not the scary condition of the subfloor, social pressure of painting the woodwork, or the winter-renovation blues). We almost moved instead of putting this humpty-dumpty house back together again.

So it went like this, cat...

After getting intimate, through tears, beers and dialogue, with the rough condition of the nearly 100-year-old staircase, we repaired the structural issues and opted to save our pennies for a nice runner in the near future. In the meantime, we decided to apply a faux bois treatment on the treads. The result is pretty cool. Due to the dark tones of the espresso hardwood (as in the remainder of the house) the result is acceptably realistic. It saved us the zillion hours it would have taken to strip through many decades of paint, as well as potentially inhaling crappy chemicals. Let’s face it, it’s paint, but pretty darn awesome results considering what we had to work with. Gold star? Gold star!

Stair treatment, step 1.
Three layers of wash applied.
The finished product.

One solid tone (royal blue) was considered instead of the faux finish... but the “almost-wood” won that battle. It involved sanding, priming, matching tones in our existing hardwood floors, three layers of wash to create warmth and depth, and three coats of satin poly. It was a new technique to learn, and something to challenge our opinions. (We're aware that we painted out the existing woodwork of the trims and paneling only to try to capture a wood-look on the treads. Wood purists may rejoice as we embrace our hypocrisy.)

White risers (same as the wainscoting and other trims) add to the clean and bright jive we’ve got rollin’. The posts & banister have yet to be re-finished; we're still tossing about the idea of painting the posts white to relieve the starkness that seems to be taking hold.

No lie, painting the main staircase with two cats and a teenager was a challenge. We did try painting every other step in two waves... but that didn’t end up being as efficient as it sounded on paper, so we all slept on the main floor for the duration. Effort was put forth to make it fun (movie nights, dance parties, and an epic Catan marathon) but we were wiped from the workload and it totally wasn’t fun at all... oopsies! Next time we will plan to be out of the house and spare the teenager (who’s utterly traumatized and won’t hang with us anymore) and cats (renamed Holy Princess Whiner & Grumpy Paw-Pawz) the inconvenience of renovation joy.

But in the end, the task was within our skill set, we learned new things though having the experience, we get along just fine while working on a project, and we’ve ended up feeling a sense of accomplishment = renovation merit badge. Those things in mind, there was no reason for us to hire-the-job/replace the whole staircase. By DIYing the sexy beast, we got quality assurance and serious bragging rights.

In light of how awesome & totally burnt out we be, a mini-vacation is to be had next weekend... or we might completely loose our sh*t ;)

Estimated time for project: 10 weeks
Time remaining: 3 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #10 of Mike and Sandie's Foyer Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Mike and Sandie)

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