Wednesday Renovation Recap: Stepping it Up

Last week was crazy at work with my first big annual dinner to do, so the blog took a bit of a hit. Working until almost 7 every night for a few weeks will do that. With the dinner over, and spring finally starting to show it’s face, I’m super excited to share with you a lot of things we’ve been doing on the house, and outside of the house.

So let me just say….


DSC_3605-01Let me take a deep breath and back up. When we decided to renovate our home, we knew we were going to be building a lot of the final touches ourselves. I’m using the marital “we” because I really mean Andy would be building the final touches, since my level of building is something closer to a rugged potato box (I’ll be blogging on this later).

DSC_3531-01It has always been important to Andy to build a lot of the house himself, including the finishes. For one, he knows how to do it. For two, he can build it for less money than a cheaper quality version he could buy. For three, it’s a family thing to have little touches throughout the house to make it personal. Every single piece of wood has some sort of story of how it was found, or how cheap it was bought, or where it originally came from, etc. It gives the house what many houses these days are missing—character.

I trusted Andy to build a beautiful set of stairs, so I stayed out of the way and didn’t really give any input. I knew he would turn out something wonderful and I’m most definitely not disappointed. At this point we only have parts which need to be painted and/or sealed so let’s dive into the finishing process. The first thing we had to do was decide what treatment we wanted for each part. Since the risers and balusters are made of poplar we decided they should be painted. However, the railing, balusters and newel posts are made of walnut and beech. We absolutely knew those were going to stay as solid wood. We haven’t reached the painted parts yet, or installation, so I’ll discuss those in a later post. For now let’s get into the finishing of the unpainted parts.

We quickly decided the best bet would be multiple coats of the same clear finish we used on the exposed trusses. It would give a nice hard surface and show off the beautiful wood without adding any tint like a stain or oil might do.

It’s still too cold to do the finishing outside, so we had to set up in the house. We decided to use our master bedroom on the second floor as a staging area for finishing, and utilized the roll staging as a drying rack for the treads.

DSC_3571-01For finishing I simply followed the instructions on the water based clear coat, which in our case included letting each coat dry for two hours and a light sanding with 250-grit sandpaper in between each coat. I started with the rough side, since I knew it was important to get a coat on each side to help prevent warping. That said, I only did one coat on the back side but plan on doing about 5 or so on the front side.

You can see just how different they look after one coat!

DSC_3579-01After a light sanding I did a second coat and with each coat since then I’ve been loving the stairs more and more.

DSC_3584-01DSC_3588-01In addition to the stair treads I also did the newel posts (there is a third one but it wasn’t in the shot).

DSC_3597-01My favorite piece of the entire staircase so far has to be the railings though. I absolutely love touched of dark woods like mahogany and walnut, so these walnut railings are right up my alley. Once we put a clear coat on them they really took the cake.

DSC_3603-01Each of the three railings will get a few more coats, including the sanding in between, before they are finished. They keep getting prettier with each coat and I adore them. They all look like one piece of wood, right?

Surprise, they’re actually each three pieces of wood! Andy did an incredibly fabulous job making them all look like one cohesive piece.

DSC_3549-01Now that it’s the week and we’re back to work eight hours a day, it pretty much means I’m doing about one coat a night as each coat needs about two hours drying time. So far they are looking beautiful and shiny. I can’t wait to have time to get the other pieces painted and document that for you. Finally, and obviously, the biggest excitement will be getting everything installed!

In addition to the stair parts, we also finally finished sealing the beams above the stairwell, which means they are D.O.N.E. DONE.

DSC_3592-01And since spring has finally sprung, it means the tarp has been taken off the kitchen we’ve been housing in our garage. More on the kitchen later, but oh Lord, it’s beautiful even with the few dings. The granite knobs more than make up for any dings.

DSC_3703-01Spring is certainly refreshing, no doubt about it. It means finishing touches, fresh air, building new structures for the garden, planting the garden and getting to spend time outside with those you love. How does a park on a sunny Sunday with your friends and their kids not just make a soul happy?

DSC_3637-01All for now. While I’ll still only be posting once or twice a week there is a lot coming up once I find time to write again!



2 thoughts on “Wednesday Renovation Recap: Stepping it Up

  1. Beautiful stairs!! And I’m quite jealous of those granite pulls . Also, Simon is so excited to be on your blog… at least, I think he will be once he wakes up. I look forward to when we can come play at your house and see all the beautiful hard work that has been done!

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