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Stairway to Heck (that is actually quite Heavenly)

You may have noticed by now that many of my DIY adventures tend to be pretty quick and easy. That's kind of my thing. I find these #DIYprojects to be a little more enjoyable when things stay simple. With the exception of this monstrosity, most of the projects that I undertake are just that: niiice and easy. Except this one. Easy, not so much, but worth it? Oh yes. So much yes. It was totally worth it. Time consuming and tedious, but totally and completely worth it. I'm talking about our banister projects. Yes, that's projectS, with a capital S. We happen to have 2 stair cases in our house, which is awesome at all times, except for when the time has come to give those stair cases a little makeover. It is at that time, and likely that time only, that it is not awesome to have two stair cases.

But, as with most things in life, it can't all be awesome and easy, and so I will just be honest up front. This particular project was NOT. In fact, this project was big enough that it deserves two posts about it. It is pretty involved, so you get a Two for One here, folks. So put on your hard hats, because the Easy Train has temporarily left the station.

Our back staircase: Before and After

The Project

When we moved into our house, the floors and banisters of our staircases were a very light oak. Beautiful? Sure. Just not really my style. I prefer something a little darker, and so this was one of the very first projects that we took on in this house. As much as I would love to be able to say that I am cool enough to be able to stain my own floors, the fact of the matter is that I am NOT that cool (for a multitude of reasons, but let's focus on the subject at hand, mmmm kkkkk?). Due to said lack of coolness, we had a professional stain the floors and the treads of the stairs. No good is going to come out of me attempting that task, I'll tell you that right now. But what we DID do ourselves was revamp the balusters, risers, and banisters themselves.

For those of you that aren't familiar with what a baluster is, don't fret. I had no idea what those "banister pole things" [as I lovingly used to refer to them] were actually called. Turns out they go by the name Baluster. This brings me to the hardest part of the project, which was sanding down all of the balusters. All 114 of them. And then painting all those balusters. All 114 of them. With 5 coats of paint [this is the part where "Stairway to Heck" comes in]. This wasn't hard, per say. It just took FOREVER. Think of Hamilton "Ham" Porter from the classic, The Sandlot, saying, "Fooorrreeevvvveerrr." It was kind of like that type of forever. BUT, let me tell you- once this was done, they looked simply gorgeous, darling.

The Details


A never-ending amount of balusters to refinish

Sand paper

White trim paint

Rubber gloves

Garage set up, with the step stool painting station

You can do this project one of two ways, but I highly encourage you to do it the way we did. It is a little bit more involved, but in the end, I believe that it actually made our lives a lot easier. What I am referring to is the removal of the balusters from the banisters. I kind of feel like there should be a children's song by that name. Anyways, you can totally choose to leave your balusters attached to your banister and do all the sanding and painting that way. I quickly decided, however, that not only would it be difficult to sand them down that way, but it would also be quite messy with paint drippings. So, I removed them. After a little research, I found that most balusters can just twist right off. Now- I am talking specifically about wood balusters that are attached to wood banisters. I really can't speak on the other types. With this particular wood variety, each of the balusters have a little nail keeping them in place at the top, so if you very GENTLY twist, you should be able to loosen and remove them from your banister. I found that this was the best way to do it so that I could do all the sanding and painting in the garage.

Once they are lightly sanded down (you do NOT have to sand these all the way- just enough for the paint to have something to stick to), you are ready to paint. Armed with rubber gloves and a paintbrush, I actually started to get pretty quick at this. You will likely come up with your own system, but I stand by my method. I used a step stool, and stood the particular baluster that I was working on on top of it. Holding the paint brush with one hand and the very top of the spindle with the other, I was able to turn the baluster with one hand while brushing with my opposite. Tedious, but not super difficult, either. Not super difficult if I had to complete, say, 10 of these. The difficulty comes in with the number of actual balusters to complete. So hang in there, tiger. You've got this.

Once I got over my PTSD from completing the revamping of the balusters, the steps after that followed not nearly as tedious. For the banister, we used gel stain. If you have never used gel stain, it is another one of my quick and easy DIYs. Totally the way to go when staining small pieces, in my humble opinion. The risers are in the same boat. Way easier to finish. As I mentioned earlier, this project deserves two posts, so I will pause there. I don't want to overload you with info, and let's be honest. It's gonna take you while to finish all those balusters anyways. I will go much more into depth about the next steps in next week's post, so stay tuned!

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