The Queen of Monochrome Ellie Tildesley is taking over today and telling us about how she transformed her staircase into the one we all lust after on Instagram (she’s a DIY genius too). Who’s off to figure out what they can sand and paint black?!
Ellie’s Instagram is @e.t.shown_home if you want to see more of her amazing home!
It was a real struggle to decide what to do for my first ever guest blog post! Wallpapering technique? Maybe tricks and tips in painting a room? But after much deliberation I finally settled on stripping and painting a staircase. It’s a part of the house that people ask me about most often, and although you might feel that this DIY is to big a job to take on believe me if I can do it you really, really can too!
The stairs, hallway and landing were my favourite part of the house when we viewed the property despite every wall and ceiling being absolutely covered in pink Artex and the floors adorned in old lady pub carpet I knew it could and should be something fabulous.
I was also convinced that I wanted to do something a little different and keen to use a dark colour as the space was flooded with light due to the large feature window on the stairs. While the weeks of the purchase dragged on I became obsessed with Pinterest and found a lot of inspiration (you can relate I’m sure) .
As soon as we got the keys we set about ripping out the pub carpets in a bid to cleaning up the grotty interior, in the process we discovered beautiful Parquet flooring in the downstairs hallway. This of course only made me more eager to hire the sander and did absolutely nothing for my lack of patience!
So, where did I begin? What will you need?
Firstly, once you’ve pulled off any existing carpet you should inspect the stairs fully and assess the quality, look out for woodworm, loose treds etc. If you do find any problems, then get these remedied before you undertake any of the decorative work. If all seems sound, then you need to get your prep done first before you think about hiring any equipment.
Get your tools ready…
- Flat headed screwdriver
- Claw hammer
- Wood filler/PVA
- Anything else you think might be useful….Big mug of tea?
Pull out any nails or staples; remove all the adhesive tape and any carpet grips.
Make sure the surfaces are clean and free of debris. If you have paint on the stairs that needs to be removed then try using a heat gun to get the worst of it off, I’ve found mine invaluable and if you really want a good finish on your woodwork then stripping off the layers of old paint is a must and really worth the hassle!
Ok, so you’ve prepared your stairs and are ready to sand? Before you reach for the palm sander STOP! There is no way on earth you have the time or patience it would take to complete this task with a hand sander and it would not be up to the job anyway, HIRE YOURSELF AN EDGE SANDER!
They don’t cost a bomb and using one means you can complete the job in a day or two. I used HSS Tool Hire, they give great customer service and have always given me the best deal they can (throwing in extra days and equipment for free, not bad eh?). Make sure to include a good variation of paper grades you’ll need heavy duty sandpaper discs down to lightweight ones. The best thing about HSS is you can take back any discs you don’t use so OVER estimate as you always use more than you think. You’ll need to sand the risers regardless of whether you want a stripped finish or painted finish. You’ll be limited to using a hand sander for this part due to the narrow space. In my case I did the best I could with a hand sander on the risers but planned to paint them black anyway so the colour of the finish didn’t need to be perfect just smooth.
Shut all the doors in the house to limit dust, dust bags are included but inevitably you will make a mess… it’s a messy job! Start at the top of the stairs with the heaviest grade sandpaper you have, working down one step at a time vacuuming after each step. Try to sand as far into the corners as possible; as anything you don’t reach you’ll have to do by hand with sand paper and that is HARD WORK!
Once you’ve reached the bottom step, have another vacuum through before changing your paper grade and starting again at the top. Word of warning the edge sander can put ruts into the risers and stair strings so try not to be too heavy handed. In any case buy some wood filler and go over any digs and holes…
IMPORTANT if you plan on painting your stairs then the colour of the wood filler is pretty irrelevant but if you want the stairs to be a natural wood finish then be sure you can stain the filler so as not to have white blobs all over the end result. Alternatively you could mix up some of the sawdust (you’ll have enough!) with some PVA and use that to fill. Once your wood filler has fully dried do a final sand on each step top to bottom with a fine paper on your edge sander… If your going to strip/sand the stair strings as part of the stair overhaul then do all the messy work before you do this last sanding.
You will probably have to attack the corners of each step by hand; I wrapped some sandpaper around a small chisel so I could get in to the tight corners. Once you’ve sanded everything to within an inch of its life and your hands are raw and wobbly your ready for the next step!
First I painted the risers and the strings black but with hindsight this was backwards as it would have been much easier wiping away paint spills from a sealed, painted or varnished step. Raw wood is so absorbent and any mistakes are harder to clean up.
I used Valspar ‘Downing St’ Wood and Metal eggshell paint on the stair strings and risers, it was the trade mix which has primer built into it! YAY, one less step (no pun intended!) On the steps and the parquet floor in the hallway I wanted to achieve a slightly industrial look replicating the colour of old worn floorboards. I used a SADOLIN EXTRA DURABLE WOODSTAIN in EBONY for the colour and RONSEAL OUTDOOR VARNISH in CLEAR with a SATIN FINISH to finish and seal. Before the stain got near my freshly sanded floor I tested a few methods on a strip of wood to gauge how much stain I needed to use to get the desired finish.
Once satisfied I applied the black stain with a sort of rub on rub off Karate kid type action. Closely followed with the clear varnish partly to ‘water’ down the black stain as well as to seal the wood. It lifted a lot of the black leaving a nice warn, industrial patina. After 24 hours I applied another coat of the clear varnish. Obviously you have to stain/paint every other step so you can actually still use the stairs (unless your happy to camp downstairs for a few days!), so in that regard the painting process can take a few days.
End result?? Bloody lush stairs!! It might sound hard and complicated but it really isn’t. Just a bit of elbow grease and muck and viola….
Ellie’s hallway looks incredible and it’s amazing what an impact a lot of hard work and paint can do!