Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Treads

Ready for more staircase work??  After we got the wall taken down and the stairs all nice and open, we could really see what we were working with.  I really wanted to keep the original staircase.  I loved the idea of walking on the same steps that the original owners walked on.  However, many of the steps were cracked and splitting in half.  There were a couple that literally felt like you would fall right through, and we didn't want to have to revisit this project 5 years from now if they started to fall apart. We toyed with lots of different ideas, including just replacing the broken stairs, and then sanding and refinishing the others.  But, now that they were all open and clearly visible, I wanted them all to match perfectly!  In the end, we just purchased all new treads.
Once again, I think my description of this project makes it sound easier than it actually was.  Who knew there was so much involved in building a new staircase?!!  It's not like you just call up the lumber store and say, "hey I need some treads for my stairs."  You need a lot more!!  First the structure of the stairs needs to be addressed.  After the guys ripped up the old treads, we figured out why the steps felt like you might fall through the middle!  There was only a stringer (the zig zag pieces that the treads rest on) up each side, and nothing supporting the middle!  We added another stringer up the middle, and these are some sturdy steps now, people!!  We needed a new banister now too, since everything was open.  Then of course you have to get the spindles and the post for the bottom of the banister.  Do you have any idea how many different styles there are?? I probably spent 30 minutes in the store just flipping through the brochures trying to make up my mind!!
Of course all of those things came unfinished, so the next step was some serious staining!!  We set them up in my parent's garage so they could air dry and stay away from rain or dirt or anything blowing on them.  If you've never worked with stain, it's some sticky stuff!! We did 2 coats of dark walnut stain to match our floors.  We thought they would dry in a couple of days, but it ended up being almost a week, and even then they felt a little sticky still!!

Finally a project I could help with!!

This took a while!!  We had 17 treads, the new banister, and the big end post for the base of the banister.  Two coats on each!  It was a loooong night!
Once things were dry, everything was installed.  First the treads.  Then, all the holes drilled for the balusters (spindles), then the post and banister added.  We did not do this ourself!!  We hired a trim carpenter who really knew what he was doing!!  A wiggly banister is not something to mess around with when you have a toddler!  It takes some knowledge to drill the holes straight, but at the correct angle so that each spindle fits and is equally spaced.  We went with 3 spindles per step, and they each increased in height.  It makes my head hurt even thinking about figuring all those angles and what not.  Nope, a professional can deal with that!  He came in, and in a matter of 1 day, we had this:

Hallelujah!!!  Can you hear the angels singing?!!  IT'S GORGEOUS!  I loved it even all unpainted like this!!

There was one more step (haha!) to finishing this project!  I'll show you in a couple of days!!

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