The Down & Dirty on the Stair Project

Here’s how it all started.   Ripping that carpet off, one step at a time.  Unearthing all the ugliness that was hiding beneath.  Our builder certainly never meant for these stairs to be shown, that’s for sure.  And like I mentioned, if I had any delusions of something nice lurking beneath this mess of carpet, that was quickly put to rest after the first couple of stairs.  Ripping off the carpet and painting the stairs was the best decision I made.


In fact, it just got worse, as I went down the stairs ripping that carpet and padding off.  Before3

Like this gaping hole!  I know, it’s really bad.  So bad that I started to question my sanity.  But, one thing I’ve learned in the DIY world is this fact.  Most anything can be improved upon by hiding it with molding or caulking with caulk and that was my motto here.  Hide it, cover it up, or make it look better.  Edges of stairs before

Look at the ends of the stairs.  Pretty darn bad, with all the carpet fuzz and the milllllllions of staples that were in here.  That itself took awhile, just to get the staples pulled out.  This wood was not meant to be seen either, so I had to cover it all up with molding. Stairs Before

Evil, evil carpet tack strips.  I pulled and tugged and finally got them all out of there.  Tools

Using these tools.  Don’t even try this without safety glasses and leather gloves.   I didn’t have a crowbar or I would have used it. Picture 008

How about these lovely edges with drywall trapped inside.  Is there any hope to beautify THIS??  Well, yes there is. 🙂  You see, I had a vision.  Or maybe it was a nightmare after I saw what I was working with. 🙂

First, I bought a nice hand sander and began sanding as much roughness as I could off all the stair treads and risers.  I went through several pieces of heavy duty sandpaper and sanded them as good as I could.  And no, they were not even smooth at this point either, but then came the wood filler putty.  That works pretty good too for smoothing out holes and gaps in wood.  There’s only so much you can do with rough raw wood like this, but paint works wonders too.   I went back and resanded after I added the wood putty to all the holes and uneven gaps.Picture 001

So then began the process of covering all the ugly gaping holes with molding.  I went to the store and bought about 3 or 4 kinds of molding, going back a couple of times when I fine-tuned things a little more and figured out what all I needed.   I started at the top, cutting those pieces to fit and used wood glue to hold them in place.  Cause they are nothing but foam and could be cut with scissors.  You gotta love molding you can cut with scissors.

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See, here it is.  It will splinter a little, but I made it work just fine.  It was all I needed to cover underneath the stairs and on the sides to cover up the ugly holes and it was cheap.  Cheap, I like for something like this.   Held in place with blue tape til dry.

Picture 073

Here’s all the different size moldings I used, so you can be on the lookout for it as I explain it all. Some of this was leftover from other projects and some I bought.

Left to Right:

3″ Reeded molding

1/2″ fluted trim (bottom of stairs)

1 1/4″ small chairrail type

1″ MDF (this is the one I cut with scissors)

1/2″ shoe molding

1 1/2″ to trim out the stair nose

All of this was real wood molding, except that one piece.  Someone asked if I have an an electric miter saw. NO!  I wish I did and one of these days, I may have to break down and get one.  I used a less than $10 yellow miter box that you can buy at the home stores.  It works fine, of course takes much longer than an electric one would.

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And I knew I would need some wider molding to cover the really BIG gaps, like this one that you see above.  One nice piece of 3″ reeded molding covered it right up.  I had some of this leftover from another project, so I raided my extras for this and used up all my left over pieces.Picture 003

Used quarter round on the edges of the stair treads to cover more gaps.  And you can see the big gap on either side of the stair nose.  I knew I would have to cover that up, so that’s what drove me to use a nice molding piece on each stair nose.  It looked better AND it covered up that gap too.  You’ll see more of those down below.Picture 005

Making progress all down the stairs, one at a time.   Aren’t they starting to look beautiful now. 🙂  Ha!  Not yet, but we’re getting there. Picture 006

Now, this bottom part down on the edges of the stairs was the most challenging part. I knew I’d have to cover the ugly down here and be creative about it too.  Again, left over fluted molding was used as well as some of the quarter round I had bought.   I figured it out as I went along and started with a small base piece of molding at the bottom. Picture 007

One good thing about the stair treads were that they were nice and thick.  I figured out that I need to put some molding on the front of them to help hide gaps on either side of the stairs, so I found this flat piece that fit on there perfectly to make the stair treads look better AND hide the gaps on the sides.  This is about 1 1/2″ wide.  I used wood glue AND finishing nails on these. Picture 009

Working on the bottom 3 steps that had more molding to deal with.  I just kept going, again figuring it out as I went along.  I started with one layer and that wasn’t looking so great, so I just added another layer on top and they started to look decent. Picture 014

Cut, glue and wait.  All the way down.  Picture 010

Getting there. Picture 015

Cut more, glue more, keep on going.

Picture 016

Getting to the final part here, this was the last thing I did was figure out this corner. Picture 019

You can see I used all the leftover pieces I could find in the garage to make it all work.  And it did!  Once it’s all painted out with my white trim paint, it looks beautiful. Picture 020

When all the molding was in, it was time to caulk.  Again, caulk hides a multitude of flaws.  It’s a DIYer’s best friend! I used an entire large tube of caulk in my caulk gun on these stairs. Picture 021

Caulk, caulk and more caulk hides all those seams and gaps.  Another sanding and it was time to prime. Picture

Even the primer looks pretty good!   I then painted all the white trim with my interior white trim semi-gloss paint, letting it all dry overnight between coats.  I figured it would be easier to do that first and then go back and do the stair treads black.  Picture 012

One quart of black porch and floor paint was plenty for this project.  I didn’t even use 1/2 of this can.

removing carpet and painting stairs

And I put on 3 coats, letting it all dry at least overnight in between.  I used a small foam roller and a tiny craft brush to get around the edges by the white trim.Edges of stairs before

Just a quick visual here…BEFORE

removing carpet and painting stairs

And AFTER….here are the ends all trimmed out and painted.  Lots of difference between Before and After on this for sure!Picture 051

These are SO not perfect, but unless your nose is right down here, it all looks great.Before3

From this BEFORE….

Picture 052

And AFTER.  It IS pretty dramatic, huh?  I still have to touch up my dark post railings at the bottom too, but I’ll get to that.

Picture 007

See, not perfect, but perfectly beautiful.  And I’m OK with NOT perfect, since it’s totally better than before.

removing carpet and painting stairs

After 3 coats, the black painted stairs are done.  You can see nails in the stairs.  There’s just no way to completely cover them, since they are on each end and in the middle.  So, that was one reason I decided to add a runner.  That and the fact that I really love natural runners.   But, really if you have steps that are in pretty good condition, I think the 2-3 coats of black porch paint look pretty fabulous too and I would not have had a problem leaving them like this.  But, I like that extra touch that the runner added. Picture 056

And one final addition of molding here at the back of the stair treads.  It was impossible to keep a straight line back here.Picture 002

So I just added an additional small shoe molding on top and that hid all the wavy lines.

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Next, stapling on the jute runner which I got from Overstock.  I had to order 2 of them, since one wasn’t quite long enough.  I needed to cut an extra foot or so off the 2nd one to fit that last step and it was easy enough to cut with scissors.  And I have a whole section from the 2nd runner in case I need to replace one stair tread later on (like if something gets spilled, etc.).  Nice to have a backup piece.  removing carpet and painting stairs

And after stapling away, this is the end result. You can see even more AFTER pics in this post.


I did go back and add a little jute twine at the back of the stair treads to sort of hide the staples, since I had 6 of them that came with my rug.  I simply wrapped them around the rug on either side and they are laying in place just fine.  But really, those staples don’t bother me a bit.  I had the twine so I used it.

removing carpet and painting stairs

Dramatic AND beautiful, a great combo! We will definitely be enjoying these stairs for a long time to come.  When the runner wears out or gets too dirty, I can pull it up for something else.

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This whole project cost around $200:

1/2 for the molding, paint and supplies and 1/2 for the runner.

It was very cost effective and SO totally worth every penny.  Keep in mind, I only had 6 stairs here, so if you have a whole staircase, it will be even more work.  But, it is TOTALLY worth every minute of pain.

Here’s a visual from the top of our upper stairs looking down towards the foyer landing,  and down to the newly painted stairs, so you can see how it all ties together.

As you can see from the pics, our foyer landing already has beautiful finished hardwoods, as do the flight of stairs going up to our main living area.  I simply wanted to tie these down stairs into what we already have and get rid of that ugly carpet!  Mission accomplished!

Do you have some ugly carpet on your stairs you’d like to rip up?  This might convince you to do it, right?

Your stairs can’t possibly be any worse than mine. 🙂

Added to Kimba’s DIY party

- Rhoda


  1. Great job!! You are so handy!!! The addition of the jute rug really made the stairs look crisp and finished!

  2. Rhoda…


    Wow!! What an amazing transformation! You are the bomb – fabulous job girlfriend. LOVE this!
    You are soooooooooooooooo good.


  3. RHODA! AWESOME JOB! Believe me, I KNOW how much work went into those stairs, we did the same thing about 8 or 9 years ago. We guestimated that between my husband and I it took about 40 hours of work to complete. Although we have NEVER regreted it one moment! Yours look awesome and I love the juxtaposition of the tan and cream striped jute against the black! FABULOUS!

  4. Rhoda-I have been in awe of your flair and talent for awhile, but this project is absolutely incredible! I am so impressed and inspired. Way to go girl! Love the new look of the website…

  5. Wow! You really are brave! After ripping up the carpet, I probably would have called the carpet guy to put more on! Great job!!!

  6. You are one talented lady! It turned out so great. I just wanted to ask you about the runner. Still need to order the 8×10. Just wondering if it’s lighter in person. Or are your photos pretty accurate?

  7. Oh my goodness! I would have given up an hour into the project and begged someone to come recarpet for me. But they look fabulous – you did a remarkable job. Thanks for sharing the details.

  8. Wow! I am very impressed. All your hard work cerainly paid off. Looks wonderful.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing the step by step. Lots of great detail for a gal like me to want to tackle her own basement stairs.

  10. I am so blown away by the transformation. You have amazing vision to have conceived a plan to cover all those flaws. Your talent is so inspiring!!

  11. Anita, that runner is really accurate in the pics. It’s definitely cream and kahki and not white. I thought from the Overstock pic that the stripe was going to be more white, but it’s definitely a yellowy cream, which worked out fine for me, since it goes so well with my wall color. I don’t know if it comes in 8×10, but maybe you looked it up already. I was only searching for runners on there.

    • I don’t know if the 8×10 is exactly the same as yours. The colors on overstock look different but the color of the 8×10 actually look closer to your pics than then OS runner pics! Did that make sense? I really like it, just can’t decide if I want stripes under the table.

  12. I am giving you a standing ovation! What a huge project! Most would have re-carpeted when they saw was was under! You really have such intuition mixed with know-how! Beautiful!

  13. Wow alot of work!! But so worth it. I love your new stairs:)

  14. Clapclapclap… I’m giving you a standing ovation! You deserve a trophy, an emmy or an oscar. I think I would have sobbed and then called a pro to come and fix it.

  15. SIMPLY AMAZING!!!! This is such a dramatic transformation, it is just lovely, and the fact that you did it bit by bit, using what you had, and figuring it out as you went along is what truly makes this even more amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing the details and how to’s.

  16. I am so utterly amazed at this project. I just started reading your blog and now I know I will continue to. That was some serious inspiration! The end result looks fabulous!

  17. I ripped up the carpet off of my daughters stairs last fall. I thought they were bad! Yours were awful! I can’t believe how much STUFF you had to deal with.

    Awesome job! How wonderful they look now!


  18. WOW! Now that is a great DIY project! Very impressed!

  19. I love how fearless you are! I don’t think I would have ever taken that on! You have inspired me to get down and dirty on a few projects that I have been scared to do! Love your blog and check it everyday to see what adventure you are up to!

  20. You did an AWESOME job! That couldn’t look any better. Great craftiness using the jute runner. Love the look.

  21. that’s quite a project, and quite a transformation. it looks fantastic. this would never fly at my house, however, b/c my boyfriend would have to make sure everything is perfect, and it makes everything take fooorrreeeveerr! i like quick and easy that looks good! great job.

  22. LOVE the transformation! It makes me so thankful I paid the builder extra for wood stairs and a runner. 🙂 With 4 small children I would never have the time to do what you have done. They are beautiful and I am sure add value to your home!!!

  23. You are sooooo brave to have done that! I would have stapled that carpet right back up after the first step, lol. Your ending turned out just fine….but, wow the work. You sure had a vision!

  24. In awe…really…you did an awesome job!

  25. Wow, you did an awesome job! You’re the DIY queen, I think.

  26. WOW!! An amazing job!!! A ton of work but you came away with a HUGE improvement. Ugly to beautiful. You go girl.

  27. I have refinished two sets of stairs now, so I can appreicate the time and effort this project took. The stairs look fabulous! The mouldings really add to the overall look.

    I did have one question. How hard are the painted stairs with runner to keep clean? I used braided stair treads in the past and they got dirty quickly. However, I was able to through them in the washer. Right now, our stairs are bare and I’m considering other options. Thanks!

  28. Oh my word, you are the queen ! I am blown away by your energy and the way you solved all the little problems of this staircase that most would have walked away from. It looks stunning ! I love seeing all your hard word paying off. Job well done my friend, I am inspired !


  29. Rhoda,

    I am totally inspired by this! Thank you so much 🙂
    I had been contemplating something along these lines for the steps to our newly renovated basement and Voila! you provide a tutorial and inspiration! I don’t have to take up carpet on these ones, but I have heaved and pulled it up a couple of years ago on our main stairs and upper hallway. Nasty job but extremely satisfying. Wonderful …

  30. Thank you all so much! Yes, it was a lot of work, but I’m SO glad I tackled this one. Totally worth it even if it did take 2 weeks. The dry time on the paint was really fast, so it didn’t mess things up around here too long at all.

    Sarah, I have no idea how long that jute runner will stay clean, since it’s only been 2 weeks, but I’ll keep you all posted on it! The good thing is I have extra that I can cut and place on a stair if I need to.

  31. I love it! I think you did a fantastic job and it looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing the step by step photos and commentary.

  32. Thanks for the detailed directions!!!! I REALLY want to do this on our stairs.. just have to convince the hubby 🙂 Enjoy your beautiful stairs…

  33. Oh nicely done! That carpet runner is just perfect, and I love the contrast between the risers and treads. Lovely all around!

  34. OMG! This is incredible. I loved all the before pictures, not knowing how it was going to turn out. The final result just about killed me! I love, love, love the stair painted black, but that jute runner really made it. Great job! Glad I discovered you!

  35. FANTASTIC transformation. I just saw another site where they numbered each stair from the bottom up. Looked pretty cool ~ just thought I’d toss in my no-sense worth. lol

  36. Stunning! I am inspired!

  37. Mrs H in WV says:

    Job well done!!! I am so happy you posted every single picture, because we are getting ready to tackle the carpeted stairs in the entry way of our circa 1984 split level Ranch and I was having a tough time in communicating/visualizing to my husband how I would like to finish the open sides of the treads.
    Thanks and many blessings!

  38. Oh my goodness, Rhoda! That is amazing! You have really inspired me. I want to do this in my house this summer. I hate my carpeted stairs, and mine get especially dirty looking because of my hubby and my big dog. I’ll be in my second trimester of pregnancy soon, so I think my energy will return and I’ll be all set for “nesting” mode. This is a great project!

  39. Rhoda you are pretty impressive taking on this project. I think you need a power miter saw with all the projects you do. Maybe a miter saw and a piece of jewelry would make a great gift!! It looks great and what an inspiration to your readers. Kudos to you my dear blogging friend. Kathysue

  40. Bee-You-Tee-Full! What a great job you did! I hopped over from “A Soft Place to Land” and I am so happy that I did! Please accept my invitation to drop in at my place one day this week when you get a moment. I have become a follower and hope that you will do the same!

  41. Rhoda…this is fabulous! You are a brave one…I think I might have chickened out after I saw the steps. I love that you don’t let anything scare ya! 🙂 You were on a mission…and it turned out beautifully!

  42. Rhoda,
    You took on quite a big project and you didn’t let it defeat you. I know this project was a lot of work but your stairs turned out fantastic. I love the runner you used.

  43. WOW!!!! what a difference and you are one talented,brave & hard working person. I love what you did & the end result is AWESOME!! but thats a LOT of hard work ! not sure I have the patience or the ability to do it but you did great! I also wanted to let you know that I love your blog & love the blog parties.

  44. Honey, you deserve a medal….or a spa vacation:) All that work but it sure paid off. Looks fabulous darling!

  45. WOW, Rhoda. That’s all I can say. WOW. Love the runner!

  46. Lynda Walton says:

    Congrats on your stairs! Let me introduce you to my new friend…2 sided carpet tape (it’s actually double sided duct tape!!!) I undertook a similar project a few years ago, ‘cept I only finished the ends that the runner didn’t cover…lol….We also stapled in the runner and used upholstery tacks…with kids and high use it was a constant battle to keep it tight, but we used it that way for many years. 4 or 5 months ago we replaced that runner and while looking for a a better solution I stumbled upon the carpet tape at Lowe’s. It’s fantastic! Absolutely no slipping since it’s been installed!! I’ve now even used it to put up bead board rather than construction adhesive!!! Again, GREAT job, I don’t know that I would have come up with such innovation if my had been in as bad shape as yours!

  47. What a beautiful transformation – I love the colors! I marvel at how you were able to fill in all of those gaps and added such style with caulk and molding – fantastic!

  48. New to your blog and I have to say these stairs look amazing!! Just the inspiration I needed to tackle my 80+ year old busted and crooked basement steps! Thanks for the step by step info with pictures…very helpful!!

  49. I love what you did with the stairs and the runner looks awesome, some constructive criticism, will you paint the railing black and all the pickets white to make it look more updated and in keeping with the new stairscase.

  50. WOW. I clicked over from The Lettered Cottage, and I am in awe. That is *exactly* what I want to do to our stairs, black treads and all, but like you, I know ours were never meant to see the light of day and I’ve been too afraid to start. *Now* I am afraid, on my long-suffering husband’s behalf, that this has given me the courage and inspiration I need to start ripping… 🙂

  51. Rhoda, you are my inspiration! You did an absoultely fabulous job giving a tired staircase new life. The addition of the Reed Moulding was absolutely brilliant.

    I have a thirteen step, 6′ wide staircase but haven’t had the courage to remove the carpeting just YET. I hate to think what may beneath mine but am suspecting it is factory fabricated (particleboard). As the cost to replace it with the co-ordinated hardwood which I am planning to have installed thruout the house would be outrageous; I am HOPING to apply a SC Runner and faux finish the exposed border(s) and riser to match.

    Thanks for the motivation talented lady as much appreciated. 🙂 . -Brenda-

  52. Carmell Politte says:

    And here i was thinking that there was no hope for my stairs!!! thank you for this!!!!

  53. The stairs look amazing! I can’t even imagine how much work went into this, but it looks fantastic!

  54. Rhoda, what beautiful work! I was sure there was no hope for my stairs other than including it in the hardwood flooring installation (see what I’m dealing with here). But after seeing this, I’m inspired to do it on my own. Thanks for sharing, I’m definitely putting this on my to do list.

  55. this is great! we have this as a project already on our summer to-do list so thanks for the detailed post. the stairs look wonderful!

  56. Woah – I was going to hire someone to install a runner on my stairs but I might give it a shot myself after seeing this. Who knew plain old staples are the answer to tacking down carpet?!

  57. Beautiful job! How were you able to go up and downstairs during the drying process?

    • Hi, Alanna, thanks for coming by. The drying time was not bad at all, even though I thought it would be. The paint dried really fast in between coats and even after an hour, I was able to step on it. We did have to go in and out the front door a few times to avoid this set of stairs, but overall it wasn’t bad at all. I let all the coats of primer & paint dry overnight before I added another one & then it was dry to the touch in one hour, no kidding!

  58. Amazing!! All I can say is – GIRL POWER. You are awesome!

  59. Brilliant! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to complete our our stair project…we have the exact same sentiments towards our old carpet…I love this! What did you do on the landing? Thanks to your idea we will continue this up our set of stairs but we have a landing…not sure what I should do there…any thoughts?

    • Hi, Jillian, thanks for coming by. Our landing in the foyer was already finished hardwoods, as are the stairs going UP in our split foyer home. So, this set of stairs going down to our family room had carpet, as well as the entire downstairs. I didn’t have to worry about the landing since it was already stained hardwoods. I just wanted the 2 sets of stairs to coordinate and not match.

      Sounds like your landing is in the middle of your staircase, so maybe you could just paint the landing black? Would that work for you?

  60. I am totally in awe and admiration! Amazing job. Can you come to my house?!?

  61. I’m so bookmarking this. You did a fabulous job!

    Our cats have ruined the carpet on the stairs and I’m planning on ripping it out asap. Thanks for the step by step you did. I’ll be referencing it often!

  62. I’d like to get rid of the carpet and I’m willing to do the work but….I tend to run up and down our stairs a lot. This may sound silly but I’m wondering if I would just end up sliding down the last few stairs every day! I don’t want a runner – I love the steps just painted without the runner in your pics and other blogs I’ve looked at.

    • Angie – Before we did ours, I was worried about sliding down the stairs, too, since I’m not very graceful. I was also worried about our dogs falling down the stairs since they had been used to solid footing with the carpet. Just to test everything, we ripped up the carpet and lived with the builder-grade stairs for a while. The old carpet HAD to come off, and we figured we could recarpet instead of doing wood if there were any problems. We all got used to them quickly and with no accidents. The hubby’s only complaint was that the wood is harder on his (flat and achy) feet than the carpet. We decided to go ahead with doing the wood steps and we absolutely love them. They are so much easier to keep clean now. I do think the dogs questioned our sanity in taking off that nice soft carpet, but they’ve forgiven us.

  63. I’m in shock. These turned out great. I’ve really been considering put a runner down my steps. This looked pretty easy to do. I think I might try it. I have to find the right rug first though. Awesome job Rhoda!

  64. Your stairs look nice. We want to take off our carpet also. We are afraid of what we might find.

  65. you’ve inspired me… it is after 10pm here and i am in a home that is less than a year old… and i am SOOO tempted to go try and “see” what is under there! ahhh…

    i can not wait.

  66. couldn’t remember if i ever commented on this post….but the staircase looks fabulous! a great idea for a runner and ya gotta love Overstock!

  67. Carol Smith says:

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL JOB!!! Love it!!! I, too, am tackling my ugly stairs. My husband and I just don’t have the money for carpet right now AND our kids our destroy carpet in no time. So, being a do-it-yourselfer as well, I ripped the berber from hell off. Lucky for me, however, my stairs were bad, but not half as bad as yours.
    Where did you get the runner? I love it because it looks beachy – just like the white/cottage look that I am trying to get.
    I’ll be surfing your website more often 🙂

  68. Carol Smith says:

    Oops! Nevermind – Overstock. Got it 🙂

  69. Rhoda, I’m just about to add a carpet runner to my mom’s basement stairs. Looking online I see several instructions for installing using the tack strips. I really want to avoid using that. Could you explain just how you stapled your runner? How long were the staples you used? Any other tips you can share?

  70. Just wanted to stop by and thank you for your tips and encouragement. I got my mom’s stair runner done and it looks really great.
    If you want to see my blog post about her whole kitchen makeover, here’s the link,

  71. I have wanted to rip out the carpet on my stairs for some time now (ugh is all I can say when I see it!) My husband has told me how bad the stairs will be if I pull up the carpet. After seeing this I know I can do it! I don’t even have an open side to deal with! Thanks for showing me I can do this project!

  72. Wow, it is beautiful! Thank you for showing the step by step directions, I love the finished result!!!

  73. Wow, great job ! Thanks for posting this. I love your step by step pictures. After reading this post I think I can built up the nerve to rip out my carpet. I did my leaving room and put down some tiles but I’ve been afraid to touch the stars. Now I think I can do it !

  74. OMG !! Holy Cow !!! What a fantastic job. I’m cruising around trying to find ideas to fix my stairs and stumbled on your re-d0. I’ccertainly not qualified to do anything this complicated (and hope what’s under my carpet is in better shape!), but I’m inspired to tackle them after seeing this! Key message from your post – start and then just go to one crazy place at a time!! Thanks !!

  75. They turned out great – nice job! I’ve got this linked to my stairs post too today, for inspiration!

  76. I did a google search for “painted stairs” and your blog popped up. You have solved MY problem of what to do with my stairs. When we put on a sizeable addition and looked at the cost of carpeting the stairs, we were shocked to learn it would be nearly $1000–for 17 steps. For carpet that would be ruined. So we elected to leave them “carpet ready” (ie-like yours, but no tack strip!). We’ve painted them navy. I wallpapered the face. We pulled off the wallpaper. We painted them black. Now I’m priming them white and having just found YOUR blog, I’m going to sand the heck outta them, caulk, patch, prime, sand, caulk, patch (do you see a pattern here?) and make them pretty!!!! I hope mine come out as nice as yours. Great job!

  77. Thank you so much for providing the pics and steps of your progress. They were so helpful to me! Your stairs are beautiful.

  78. I stumbled across this blog looking for info on how to turn my carpeted stairs into painted stairs. I used this page as a guide and did my entire staircase. Thank you so much! Like you said it was so much work, I have 15 steps that are 4 feet wide, but it was so worth it!!!!

  79. Thanks so much for posting this. I ripped off my carpet about two years ago and still have not done anything because they looked just like yours with all the gaps and I just could not figure out how to go about it. A few months ago, I heard tell of this foamy type moulding you speak of. Lo and behold when I did a search on Pinterest, I found your DIY. I have a funny feeling I’m going to get something accomplished on my two week spring break!

  80. wow, taxing DIY project. but the stairs look amazing!

  81. Love the look of the runner! I did this project in my home last fall. Our stair treads were MDF, so all of those were replaced with pine. I love the look, but I think I would like a *little* added softness of a runner as well. Off to check out Overstock’s selection!

  82. OMG! My stairs look exactly like what yours use to look like. Thanks to you, I know how to start repairing them. I want to remove my carpet but stopped after I saw the first step. Thanks for sharing. This was great and I like the way your stairs turned out.

  83. This is awesome! What a beautiful face-lift for those stairs. I especially love the black paint and the natural runner. I hope to do this one day in my own home!

  84. So glad to find your stair makeover… my builder also never meant for the stairs to be shown! Your pictures of trim, caulk, etc. definitely helped me!

  85. I wish I had seen your blog a few months ago! It took forever to convince my hubby that it was possible to do something with our stairs other than recarpet. I absolutely hated trying to keep the carpeted stairs clean and free of dog hair. My vision was hardwood treads with painted risers – very simple and easy to keep clean. After we had the carpet up and the stairs prepped, we priced the hardwood…nearly collapsed when we saw what it was going to cost! I was so disappointed, thinking we were going to have to put carpet back in. We pondered for days until we finally came up with a perfect solution. We bought a 4×8 sheet of finished-one-side quarter inch oak plywood and cut it to fit each step. For the noses of the steps, my hubby made round-edged trim pieces. The treads and noses were stained and finished to match the existing woodwork in the foyer. We used two-part epoxy to fasten the treads down, and brad nails to attach the noses. We had to do quarter round along the edges and back of each step to hide the cracks just like you did. The quarter round and risers were painted the same color as the walls. All told, we have about $200 in the whole project. Our stairs have gone from horrible to beautiful, and we couldn’t be happier! It was a lot of work but definitely worth it.

  86. looks great, finally inspired me to finish my stairs that I start several years ago during a wainscoting,trim, project.

    I’m curious what shade of black did you used, I got Valspars Kettle Black but it seems a little too grayish, and I’m searching for something darker.

    • Kevin, this is an old project from 3 years ago, but I just did this again in my new/old house. Replaced treads with pine and painted them deep dark chocolate brown. I used Valspar Fired Earth and it’s a rich chocolate brown, almost black.

  87. sounds great ,thank you for the info Rhonda. My old , odd stair case has a varying widths so I cant lay runner down the center of the stairs, but I did find some nice bordered sisal tread mats that should work nicely with this paint.

  88. Bridgette says:

    You have inspired me to work on my stairs! It will be my summer project. Just curious, were you ever tempted to stain the wood instead of painting? And if you would have stained the stairs, would you have kept the original steps or put new wood on top?

  89. I can’t believe you were able to turn those yucky stairs around! Great job, courage, and use of moulding.

  90. I ripped the carpet off my stairs yesterday, and after seeing what was underneath, I called a handyman! He said it would be about $400 for him to repair the stairs (or sides where there were gaps). I was almost ready to break down and cry knowing we didn’t have $400 (and that was just labor- no materials!!) to spend on my “honey, it won’t cost us that much to tear of the carpet and paint the stairs” project. I came across your blog and am now re-inspired! Lots of great ideas- thank you!!! I’m keeping my finger crossed:)!


  91. They look terrific! I am planning to rip the carpet off our stairs to the basement someday. I want to paint them and add a runner for the same reason as you. Having hardwood put on stairs is extremely expensive! I fully expect my stairs to look like your before photos that is why I am putting the project off!

  92. This is so inspiring! I have about 3 flights of stairs I am looking to do this to. How long did the six stairs take you all together?

    • HI, Sarah, I worked on these stairs a couple of hours at a time over the course of a couple of weeks, so I’m not sure how many hours, but probably at least 16-20 or so, with all the steps and painting. I thought it was well worth it though.

  93. Thanks for blazing the trail. I’ve been looking into how to install a jute/sisal rug as a stair runner, and this tutorial will really help. One question I still have is where you pieced the two rugs together. How did you prevent the jute rug from fraying? Did you fold it over on itself to create a hem? or did you just butt the two raw ends together and not have any fraying issues? Thanks!

    • HI, Allisen, I think I did turn it under slightly and it didn’t cause a problem. I did my stairs in my current house the same way and you can check that out under my DIY Projects tab. AS long as you staple it good, it should be OK. I also used carpet tape the 2nd time around. Check out that project too!

  94. The carpet on our staircase was dangerous. It had to go! So I ripped it out. But what to do next? We had a contractor out for another project and I asked him about redoing the stairs. Not only did he NOT want to follow my vision, his quote took my breath away. He HAD to be kidding! There HAD to be another solution that DIDN’T involve carpet or cost a small fortune! Then I found your blog. I nearly squealed with delight. Your stairs were almost identical to mine. I was inspired! I could do this! No more carpet for us!

    And I did it! It took some time and a lot of hard work, but the stairs look AMAZING! And the cost was maybe $100. Maybe. Everyone that sees them cannot believe the difference it has made to brighten up the entry, hall and stairwell. I LOVE THEM!

    For anyone else who is also inspired by your project, I’d like to recommend the following for painting the tread as it is perfect for this type of application:

    ArmorSeal Tread-Plex Water Based Acrylic by Sherwin Williams.

    Thank you so much! 😀

    • Thank you so much for sharing your stair story, Amber! I’m happy it turned out so great, that makes me excited when what I do inspires others.

  95. Rhoda:

    Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions! I ripped up the carpet on my stairs a few months ago and was horrified with what I found. As you said, the builder obviously never meant for the stairs to see the light of day. And every stair refinishing DIY project I ran across usually started with, “I pulled up the carpet and found these beautiful hardwood stairs!” LOL! The prospect of refinishing mine has been so intimidating, I’ve considered covering them up with laminate – even though that wasn’t what I had in mind when I took up the carpet. Now you’ve inspired me to move forward – molding and yellow miter box in hand. Thank you!

  96. Graham Wilson says:

    Now that’s what I call dedication. It makes my set of stairs look like child’s play. Thanks for this posting – it has given me lots of ideas and clarified a few things too. Good luck with your ongoing projects.

  97. You are a ROCK STAR – I have stair envy now. I am in the process of decoupageing my stair way wall with torn up Sci Fi novel pages. Now THAT is a fun project!!!!! no really, I mean it. Now I want to rip up my ugly carpet. Thanks for the demo.

  98. Hi Rhoda,

    I just finished remodeling my basement and painted my stairs black. Problem, I didn’t think of was having is the dust beyond visible. I saw the jute rug runner and I know you bought two. My question is did it lay perfectly length wise, were you just stapled it the ceases? Also what is the best way to know the correct length that is needed? Any advice will be helpful.
    Thank you

    • Hi, Nessa, I did have to buy 2 runners and cut one of them to fit under the stair lip, so it wouldn’t be noticeable. It worked out fine. Here’s another tutorial on my current stair runner. I did the same method except this time I used double sided carpet tape to help it stay down. You just have to measure your stairs and take a fabric tape or something that bends so that you can get the curves right and figure out how much you need. Two runners were more than enough for my stairs. And yes, the runner did lay nice and flat.

  99. Great job on that problem child.
    I am facing the same task and this really gives me some ideas.

  100. Thank you for this great how-to on stairs. We have a rough finished house (walls bare sheetrock, floors bare concrete, stairs rough lumber). We’ve been stuck trying to figure out what to do with the stairs. This looks perfect!

  101. Sabrina Spence says:

    Where can I get those foam moldings

    • Sabrina, I found them at either Home Depot or Lowes and I’m pretty sure they are still out there. Ask someone in the molding area about them. They are very lightweight and feel foamy.

      • Katherine Young says:

        Rhoda, do you think this process could work on stair teads that are made of particle board? We just purchased a house, removed all of the carpet hoping for wood under the stair carpet but ended up with particle board. Now my goal is to find a process to make them look finished without having to remove the stairway treads and risers.

        • Hi, Katherine, I don’t see why you couldn’t leave the particle board, trim it out and paint them just like regular wood. Are they pretty smooth? Probably as smooth as my old stairs were, so I’d say go for it!

  102. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m looking to do this very same project in a home I just bought, a cosmetic fixer, built in 1986. I’m now sure the builder used the same method, so I won’t be so shocked once I remove the 80’s green carpet.

  103. Stephen Intor says:

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but you should have hired a professional. The stairs scream DIY. But if that’s the look you wanted, you’ve certainly achieved it.

    • Maybe so, but I was really happy with them & it was better than carpet!

      • You are a lot nicer than I would have been, faced with such rudeness. I’m looking to pull up the carpet on my stairs, and if they are in bad shape, I will be coming back to this as a reference on what to do.

        • Fo Florz makes extremely low profile rubber backed rugs and runners. I cut a runner and carpet taped along the back edge to each stair. No tripping or slidding. Easy clean, washable, many designs.

  104. Do you know the color of stain your wood floor is?

  105. Wow this is great! I wish I knew that you could calk those holes and hide so many imperfections! I just had carpeting installed on my stairs and made a post about pulling off the carpeting! I feel your pain, but the end result is so worth it! I also re-vamped my basement stairs and those were such a hot mess Im impressed with the black and white lines now i’m second guessing if I should have painted them black and white instead of grey! Im impressed you installed your own runner you make it look so simple 🙂 I think once you re do stairs you have an appreciation for how much work it really is! lol 🙂

  106. Carmen L Adorno says:

    This is an exceptionally explained tutorial!! OMG. !!!! That’s exactly what I needed. Mine is next. Thank you so much !!❤

  107. You have given me inspiration and courage!!!!

  108. Rachael Daniels says:

    I have a full stair case. Its nasty and gross. So scared of what i will find. This gave me awesome ideas and helpful hints. So i wont panic, cause its going to be bad i just know it. Thank you!

  109. Maury Leedy says:

    This is exactly what we faced when we pulled off the stair carpet…Your photos and, suggestions were perfect and, my husband wasn’t intimidated by the holes and sanding needed. Thanks a bunch!!!!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by said: [Southern Hospitality] The Down & Dirty on the Stair Project […]

  2. […] in Kimba via […]

  3. […] These stairs were not meant to be seen when they were first built.  I'm not concerned about that now that I've seen this blog: […]

  4. […] have to thank Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick, Kate at Centsational Girl, Rhoda Southern Hospitality, Diane at Crea8tive, and Tracy at Cleverly Inspired for providing me with so much […]

  5. […] under the carpet. (To see what someone else has done with stairs covered by ugly carpet, check out Rhoda’s stair transformation at Southern Hospitality. And, Rhoda’s also got a Sunday thrifting link party, if you […]

  6. […] Of course I had gaps I had to fill (I’m speaking of the stairs) but I am looking toward Rhoda over at: […]

  7. […] We could tack down a jute runner, like this. […]

  8. […] creative approach to gaps in her stairs and other problems that probably would have made me cry: Southern Hospitality Blog.  And I like the careful, detailed instructions here (and the stained treads): Tempting Thyme.  […]

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