15 April 2017

The Grand Staircase

They're so pretty!
Because nesting is in full swing but it's getting difficult for me to do some of my normal activities (while trying to keep an eye on Henry, who is a fearless wanderer), I decided to tackle something that would be a bit more accessible and not require lots of backbreaking work. So, I set my sights on the great room stairs, now that it's been painted.
First, I put in a few more balusters so that the stairs wouldn't be oozing kids. I know for a fact someone would've slipped through and landed on the unforgiving concrete floor beneath had I not. Now, the trouble is keeping them from sliding down the banister...really though, is there any way to keep the kids from doing that? Probably not. Then, while my in-laws were visiting during and after our cruise and they volunteered their help, I happily asked if they'd mind helping Jack put in the newel posts at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Raven wasn't thrilled at the sound of the tool Jack had to use to put the newel post plate into the concrete floor. It basically sounded like a shotgun, which is Raven's worst nightmare. She did her best to hide.
Poor girl.
Raven survived without having a heart attack and the banister was put together beautifully. Then, it was up to me to make the grand staircase really shine. When we moved in, the stairs were hidden by a rather disgusting brown carpet, which was one of the first things to go. Underneath was a decent set of wood steps that I could imagine looking really gorgeous, though there were some gaps to fill and unevenness that'd have to be addressed. I considered tearing out the tread and replacing it or covering it with a veneer but in the end, it was easiest to sand and redo them.

I should really say, "easiest."
So many stairs to sand...
I don't know why but I always imagine projects going a lot faster than they do, in part because I don't take into account that I'll become bored or Henry will wreak havoc and I'll have to stop or that it will just take time to complete. The steps were no exception by any means. I think at one point, I had definitely decided to cover the tread but it took me one try to discover I'm not that meticulous of a table saw user, which made me immediately regret slopping paint on the steps when I painted the balusters and risers. After several attempts at getting the paint off and out of the corners, I finally came up with a halfway decent solution involving chemical paint stripper, paint scrapers...
...a rotary tool and belt sander...
...and detail sander and maybe some child labor. Willing, not forced.
By far, the sanding took the longest--I'm talking weeks. But, I persevered and didn't bother trying to make anything perfectly smooth. Every time I leave a hammer accidentally lying around, Henry's the first to pick it up and start whacking on the closest thing, including my newly sanded stairs. Rustic-looking is in, right?
Staining was less than an hour job but there was no way to not slop in on the risers. Gah! Back to smacking myself for getting ahead of myself and painting in the wrong order. Lesson learned.
Then, it was a bit of caulking, a couple coats of polyurethane, and fixing a few risers, then repainting the risers.
Oh, and cleaning up when Henry tried to "help" paint the steps. Except he got it wrong and painted my newly refinished treads white. And got paint on his clothes...just part of the risk when working home improvements with kids who want to help. Thank goodness for baby wipes.
Yes, I need that jumble of tools at the bottom of the stairs.
The banister was the last step (heehee) and was more of the same. Sanding, staining, varnishing and touching up paint. Then, we were done! Except, we weren't quite. Those beautiful stairs were a bit slick so we got some tread tape and slapped it on to keep anyone from slipping. So far, so good! 
Thanks for the help, Kate!
Everyone got to pick out their own picture frame and we printed off a cute photo of everyone to adorn the stairs. Now, the staircase is complete!

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