easy and cheap staircase make over

When we moved into our house I was very glad to see the only carpet was in the basement. We talked about replacing the carpet eventually and last summer, when our basement water pump shut off (and soaked the floors!), we had new floors installed.  All the old stuff was gone, except for the stairs leading to the basement.  We noticed that the carpet smelled really gross…like cat urine. And it smelled like that before we got our cat. The smell wouldn’t come out even after vigorous cleanings and on this past weekend I had enough.  We were planning to one day replace the carpet with the same flooring as in the basement but it’s a little pricey. So I thought we could just rip up the carpet and replace it with something like this.  My mom suggested staining the wood stairs first to cover up the yucky, cheapy wood.

And so it began (please ignore the paint chips and drywall mud on the walls…they are in need of a paint job!).

Materials needed: safety gear (glasses, mask and gloves); tools for prying and removing carpet such as exacto knife and crow bar; sandpaper; vacuum; wood stain; paint brush; old rag; painters tape

Steps: Remove carpet; sand any rough edges on wood;vacuum any dust or debris from stairs;  tape off any areas you don’t want stain, such as the wall; apply stain according to package instructions; allow stain to dry completely; remove tape when dry


Here is what we were dealing with.

I’ve never removed carpet before but  I found that starting at the top worked the best.  All you do is:

  1. Find an edge that you can stick your fingers or a crow bar under and start pulling.
  2. Remove underpad and staples.
Make sure to wear a face mask as the carpet webbing can be brittle and cause dust.


There was a lot of paint on the stairs!

I stuck tape to the wall to make sure I didn’t get any stain on the paint.  If you are able to, start at the top of the stairs and work your way down. Just be sure you can exit the room another way!

One coat of stain is applied and it sort of matches the floors!

I didn’t think to sand off the paint that was on the stairs before staining, so I had to go back and remove it.  Then I applied more stain to the newly sanded areas. I only did one coat overall.


I really can’t stress the importance of ventilation enough! Since my stairs were in the basement it was hard to have circulating air to get rid of the fumes but I still opened every window I could.  The mask I used was not designed for keeping out paint fumes and I had a headache after, so please look for a proper mask (a home improvement store should sell them).

This project took place over 3 days: day 1 was spent removing carpet which took a few hours; day 2 was staining and drying (with all the windows open!!!); day 3 was touch ups.

After seeing how the stairs look now we are rethinking laying a runner carpet!  The stairs look so much better now and transition into the new floors much more seamlessly than the blue carpet.

I used Minwax stain in Red Mahogany for my stairs.  I said this project was easy and cheap…it’s easy because carpet removal doesn’t require fancy tools or techniques.  And it goes a lot faster with someone to help!  The stain I used was something we had for another project and it was originally given to me by mom mom, hence the “cheap” of this project.  Wood stain can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you buy it at a Habitat for Humanity Restore.

What do you think of this little project?  Is it something you see yourself doing?


About Christina

20-something; rural dwelling; wife to David; homeowner; pretty good cook; wearer of skirts; friend to all cats.

6 comments on “easy and cheap staircase make over

  1. That is so interesting!! And looks exceptionally rustic as well :) I showed this to my hubby and it’s a go for this weekend! YAAAY :D Finally, no more yucky carpeted stairs! He likes to think of himself as a handy-man, but had not a clue how to tile a staircase LOL. I think we have a similar set up as you do with replacing basement carpet but we used tiles. I’m sure wood and tile goes together better than carpet and tile! LOL

    Thanks for the post Christina :D I wish I found you ages ago! lol

  2. Hi Christina! Sorry I haven’t emailed you the pictures yet. We’ve been dealing with a family emergency…

    Just letting you know I haven’t forgotten :D

  3. I hope you and your family are okay! Thanks for letting me know…and feel free to send them (davidswife2574@gmail,com) whenever you get a chance…no rush! Hopefully the make over went well:)

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