Refinishing the Stairs–Before

Carpeted staircase

Carpeting covered the entire stairwell.

After ten years of indoor and outdoor projects, we were left with one last effort that wouldn’t require removing sections of the roof or overhauling basement drainage: refinishing our upper staircase.

The stairs were covered in the same bad carpeting as the downstairs bedrooms when we moved. Unlike with the bedrooms, where we removed carpet and underlying linoleum to reveal the original fir floors, we left the stairs untouched while we worked on the rest of the house. The carpet wasn’t pretty, but it was inoffensive, protected the stairs, and provided sure footing for pets and toddlers. With the summer in full swing and all my contractual obligations fulfilled, it was time to confront the stairs.

I began by thoroughly vacuuming to minimize spreading dust when pulling up the carpet. Then it was simply a matter of finding an edge and bringing a pair of needle nose pliers to bear. The carpeting came up easily, and for the first time in the history of our pulling up floor coverings in the house, it revealed no ugly surprises–no glued down linoleum, no layers of newsprint, no strips of tacked down salvaged tin strips, not even padding or tack strips.

Instead we found worn but serviceable old growth treads and risers with a failing finish, an ideal candidate for refinishing.

Carpet removed from the staircase

The carpet comes up, revealing no ugly surprises.

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