Monday, January 7, 2013

Refinishing the Stairs Part 1: Sanding Up a Storm

While much of the country was experiencing blizzard like conditions the week after Christmas, Chris and I decided to create a little blizzard of our own. A sawdust blizzard, that is.
My big plan for our hallway involves refinishing the stair treads a darker color, so stripping and sanding the existing finish off was in order.  Refinishing a wood floor isn't something I've ever done before, but I was fearless. As you can see from the before photo, we really didn't have much to lose.

We got a late start on the first day, then wasted a few hours using an orbital sander and a belt sander. The belt sander was doing it's thing, but the orbital sander (which we were using to hit the areas the belt sander couldn't reach) was hardly making a dent. We decided to switch to Citristrip, a chemical stripper.
We applied it to the stair treads, banister, and newel posts, then called it a day to let the stripper work its magic overnight.
The following morning we used scrapers to remove the stripper. See those pale yellow areas? That's as far as we got with the belt sander the previous day.
 This time the orbital sander worked like a charm.
Looking good, right?
Now, don't think that I just sat back and took all the photos while Chris did all the hard work. 

I spent hours stripping the banister and the newel posts. The newel posts were especially difficult because of all the little grooves. 
 By the end of the second day, my fingers were permanently stuck in the pose in the above photo, but I was quite pleased with the results. Between the freshly skimcoated walls and our unfinished staircase, our 125 year old house looks like a new build.
Smells great too! All that sawdust has a pleasing scent of a lumber yard.
Someone should make a candle and call it "Lumber Yard". I'd buy it.

Of course, we still need to apply stain and polyurethane, but we're going to hang the molding and paint the walls first. Lots more to come!





31 comments:

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Carrie, you two are such hard workers and it will all pay off soon and I can't wait to see the reveal. I am going to get some of that stripper for a painted table.

Cathy Wall said...

I'm hiring you two for my place, what a team! This is going to be fabulous and such a labor of love!

Gretchen said...

Looking good! (and like a lot of work!)....do you plan to refinish all the floors eventually? I have light wood on my stairs that I'd like to redo, too, but then all the floors in the house are the same light oak, so I'm not sure how redoing it a manageable chunk at a time would look....

Chris @ Berry Freckles said...

Hey Carrie. You guys are hard-core! That is going to look so amazing. Yay!

My Crafty Home Life said...

Wow, it looks fantastic. That was a huge job, but so worth it. I would buy that candle too.

Megan said...

what tool are you using to sand inside the grooves and curves?

Laurie said...

Woo Hoo - knocking it out in 2013! Looking great.

Jamie said...

I think you should market that Lumber Yard candle - I think people would line up to buy it.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

A project like this takes real commitment. I know when you get it all done it will be amazing. So glad we get to look in on your progress!

www.chattafabulous.blogspot.com

DecorandtheDog said...

I'd totally buy lumber yard. Looks great!!

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

Its going to look beautiful.....I'm very impressed you two can do all these things....amazing!

Ashley said...

Ah-maze-ing.

one of our first big projects was fixing our staircase, including stripping and restaining the treads.

I don't know why, but we always buy the cheap chemical stripped and it adds hours and hours and hours of time to our projects. I think we need to just suck it up and buy the good stuff.

Janna McCalley said...

It's going to look awesome! That sanding brings back too many memories! So tedious!

Carol@TheDesignPages said...

Wow, you 2 are really impressive. That is a huge job and I wouldn't be too eager to tackle it but it's going to be so worth the work in the end.

Tiffany said...

Awesome! We still need to do this to our stairs...drag. Looks like you guys really know what you're doing...want to tackle mine as well?;)

Holly said...

Great progress!! That last photo there with the stairs and banister all stripped looks really good - like "new" like you said. You guys really work hard - looking forward to seeing what stain options you're thinking.

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

Hi Megan, this is where the Citristrip was especially helpful. We used a metal scraper to remove the stripper in those areas, then sanded by hand.

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

Nope, I'm actually content to leave the rest of our floors the lighter color. In our case, the dark stairs will match a mahogany inlay that is in our living and dining rooms.
You are right, it would be a lot of work to refinish all the floors ourselves.

Ashley said...

You two are my renovation heroes, seriously. I love your 'can do' attitude. What color are you going with for the treads now?

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

um, so right now i am really glad i am not you.... because that is the worst work ever!!! so tedious! but i know it will look amazing and then i will wih i was you with awesome stairs.

Lisa @ Cozy Condo Living said...

Looking good! I love your lumber scent idea. That smell brings back good memories for me. Your red nails are too pretty for a wood scraping project. I hope you got to show them off at dinner or a party?

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Isn't the Citristrip magical? I'm so excited for you that this project is in the works - I know it's been on your list for a long time! Already the stairs and bannister look so great!!

emily said...

Ugh -- I don't envy you! We had this done in our house -- it just wasn't something we had the patience to tackle ourselves, so mad props to you and your hubby! It's looking good so far!

Kelly said...

We stripped and stained our staircase too, and I was also on newel duty, so I am feeling for you! But what great results so far!

Calypso In The Country said...

Wow, I am so impressed! Great job so far! I think I would buy the candle too - love that smell!
-Shelley

joshua stenzel said...

You guys are Amazing! I just came across your gem of a blog last night while looking for historical exterior paint colors... My partner and I just purchased a large historical victorian in Oakland, Ca. and it looks we'll be facing all the same challenges. I've been thinking about documenting all the steps on a blog... You have me inspired. thank you so much! keep it up!
-Joshua

Whitney @ Drab to Fab Design said...

Hi Carrie! I found you from that 70s house! I give you guys so much props! We had plans to stain our whole house ourselves but after one room, we had had enough! We just got them all done professionally about a month ago!! You will love the dark stain! Here is the link to our's: http://drabtofabdesign.com/2013/01/so-how-about-that-break/

iris said...

I'm betting someone somewhere has sawdust cologne.

Maury @ Life on Mars said...

Oh wow... that's a big job! It looks great. I'm impressed that you finished it in 2 days!

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick said...

Oh my goodness, I know from experience that is SO much work! It looks like it's coming along awesome!

Vivienne Irvine said...

That looks great, but do you have any pics of the finished work?
Would love to see it now.

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