The Stairway Makeover: Part Two

The Stairway Makeover: Part Two

So in part one, I discussed ripping up carpet and basic painting.

Now the stairs themselves. Under that carpet was standard, builders grade, unfinished stairs. They were uneven and not pretty. There was also a gap between the stairs and the wall I repaired with a dry wall patch kit.

So what to do? I toyed with the idea of just painting them but knew that probably wouldn’t turn out well. I also considered refinishing the tops. That would be quite the job and I just didn’t have time for that. Plus, it would probably shut down the stairway for quite some time and as I’ve said, that’s our main traffic area.

While I was absorbed in Pinterest one day, I came across this wonderful blog: The Ultimate Brown Paper Flooring Guide. This blog is so great. Her step by step tutorial is amazing.

So I know what your thinking, “really…PAPER? On a FLOOR?!” Yes, yes, and yes. I know I was skeptical too. But I thought, worst case scenario, it doesn’t work or it looks bad. Rip it up and go to plan B!

So lets break this bad boy down!

I followed the blog exactly. I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel, so go the Paper Floor Guide for exact detail!

I filled the gaps and cracks in the stairs. Do not skip this step! If you have an uneven surface it will poke through your paper later on. Bad business.

Next, make sure your surface is clean. No dust or junk. Next, tear your craft paper. I had two large bags. One contained the paper from the edge of the roll. The straight edge is perfect for putting against the wall and the stair riser. The other bag contained the rough edge pieces. Tear them however you want. I had some small pieces and some large.

Next I made my elmers glue/water mixture. Then I say down to start dunking and glueing. I dunked the pieces in, squeezed out the excess, and laid it on the floor. If I do this again, I will say, I’m gonna soak the pieces more. Get them good and soaked. Not falling apart, but you don’t want any dry spots.

It’s ok if the pieces overlap. You really can’t do it wrong. Make it uniform. Make it random. Big pieces, small pieces. Doesn’t matter. So here are the stairs with just the elemers glue paper out down:



As it dries, it will lighten up. You’ll also see some corners start to peel up. That’s ok! Don’t freak out, (but you will haha), just put more glue on it! I let this dry overnight. I would say leave it at least 8 hours.

The next morning I double checked my work and pushed down any edges and bumps with more glue. Next I stained the paper. I used the exact stain from the blog. I read where other people used different types with poor results. Do this in a well ventilated area. This stuff is STANK-Y! Apply it in smooth even strokes and try to avoid any dry spots. It will color unevenly.


Now, the last step. This took several days. Let the stain dry completely. Mine dried in about 8 hours. It will still be slightly tacky. Next, is the polyurethane. The first coat takes the longest to go on. Apply it evenly but not too thick. If you put it on too thick it will take forever to dry and will be cloudy.

Let each coat dry at least an hour. Once the first coat is down, the stain will no longer be tacky. I put down 8 coats of poly. Some people have done less, some more. I just didn’t have it in me to do anymore!




Pretty amazing right? It’s been down for about a month now, and I have to say its very sturdy. No picked or scuffed areas. There’s 6 of us running up and down the stairs all the time, shoes, toys, soccer cleats and so on.

In part 3 we’ll get into all the trim work, built in banisters, and bead board risers.

Comment below with tips, ideas, and questions!


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