Summertime Renovations Pt.1


So the weather got warm and Mr.Knight and I rolled up our sleeves on a number of projects.  My primary job to start off the season was ripping up the carpet on our stairs.

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So as you can see our staircase needed some TLC.  Let me be clear- the spindles have been peeling since day 1!  First day we moved in!! We had an epidemic of peeling and I don’t want to go into the entire story but let’s just say it was a crazy fight with the builder.  So here we are almost 6 years later and I am finally taking the bull by the horns and giving it a facelift.

So I have read many other posts from other ladies who have tackled this exact project including Diane’s post here:

– I am super happy that my carpet doesn’t wrap around the sides likes hers did!

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

Thank you to both ladies for your expertise and giving me the gumption to do this.



So the guy that put our carpet in did not glue it!  woo hoo but he did use staples and nails which I can live with .  One issue I did not count on was getting the carpet strip off the wood without damaging the soft pine wood.


This was a serious pain.  All I can say for anyone doing this at home is it takes a long time and it will hurt if you don’t wear proper gloves!  You also must have needle nose pliers to remove each staple…….. because there are so many!!!!!!


Oh dear Lord, I had illusions prior to this that I would rip up my carpet and find beautiful solid knotty pine.  That naïveté went flying out the window when I came across not only gaps the size of the Grand Canyon but particle board for landings!!!!!! Gah!!! I actually had some panic moments during carpet removal where I wondered how hard it would be to staple it back on.  The good news was I did have bull nose- actual wood for treads.  Everything else was a killjoy.


Do you see that!!!?? What the!?!  That is MDF they didn’t cut straight sticking out.  They used the MDF as the stringer and didn’t even carry through it just suddenly ends!  I knew I would have to fix that problem which gave me the idea of adding some type of wainscoting to this process. Can’t you just feel Mr. Knight just rolling his eyes as i explain that i must add to this project?

So back to the particle board; I got two packages of 60 grit and slapped them on my hand sander.  Let me tell you it was necessary and it smoothed out the roughness to the touch.  This part took me an entire afternoon to sand two small landings, but if you have particle board you have to smooth it to the touch unless you like the chip-board look.  Then I used another package sanding every stair.  Then I hand sanded the peeling posts and spindles. Please, if you don’t have a palm or hand sander you must have one I can’t imagine doing this without one and of course never sand without a mask and proper ventilation.

After much clean up (whoa, I found this dust everywhere) I went shopping for molding, bead board, caulk, wood filler and a truck load of paint (including oil based primer).  Oil based primer is a necessity when having to paint particle board.  Particle board will suck up water based paint and I would’ve had a mess on my hands.  I normally avoid oil based paints but this is clearly an exception!  I immediately stated filling in the massive nail holes and staple holes with wood filler.  It’s important to remember that I have no plans to stain my stair, it’s just not possible OBVIOUSLY!  So I have no concerns with using wood filler.  Meaning that if you have no gaps or mealy looking particle board when you decide to rip up the carpet on your stairs just remember that no matter what the tube of wood filler says it won’t take stain the way the wood does.  Keep that in mind.  So getting back to my holes ….sand lightly to smooth it out and wipe clean.


Due to massive gaps, all of varying widths I quickly decided that a simple way to hide at least half of them was to apply bead board to the risers:


Yeah!  Bead board! Hiding stuff for over 150 years!  Then I added molding to cover the gaps; this was the most stressful part of this project!  How to use molding to cover some huge gaps without making it look like a hodge-podge.  There is no magic formula or trick to it.  Wandering around Lowes looking at molding till the people working there thought I had deep rooted issues.  Without exaggeration it took me two weeks of taking pics and mulling it through my head before committing to a look.  Then I literally spent an entire afternoon on this particular area trying to make it work:


The 3/4 round I liquid nailed to the sides of the treads was pretty simple and it worked like a charm!

I then added to the stringer and I was very happy with the outcome!!!  Yes I used hard wood to blend the mdf stringer but it’s all getting primed and painted white anyway.



Then I measured for what I finally decided to be board and batten on the half wall area.  It is simpler than wainscoting and is a cleaner design.  If you do this and use real pine 1×3’s just because your husband has a bunch on hand make sure you prime them prior to nailing/liquid nailing them to your wall.  I will never do this again!   What a pain, it would’ve made it much simpler to either: buy pre-primed cut by Lowes mdf (cheaper) or prime the knotty pine prior to install.  Anyway, measuring correctly is key and having access to a  compound miter saw is essential!

Caulk.  What can I say about how important caulk really is.  Mr. Knight says the entire staircase is being held together with it.  I am not a carpenter but I play one at home and I fake it well because of caulk.  I caulked the molding on the stairs and the bead board and the board and batten.  Then I primed like it was keeping me alive!  I also lightly sanded the treads after priming the first coat.  You should sand everything in between coats FYI.  I do not.  Do as I say not as I do :).  I then painted the handrails and the treads a chocolate brown porch paint from Glidden. The trick with two little boys and three dogs (and a husband) is to paint every other one.  Then let it dry at least 24 hours before tackling the ones you skipped.  Two coats means at least a week of painting cause some days after work you don’t feel like working on anything!!!  Then everything else got a semi-gloss white. Boys! Do not touch the railings!!!!!!! Please use Frog Tape it’s the cleanest lines and won’t ruin the paint you are taping over cause you didn’t pre-paint your molding.

If you have other humans living in your house I recommend using polycrylic from Minwax in the blue container….below is a pic I used in a previous post prior to my education of the Green Frog Tape – please excuse the blue painter tape in this photo:


Anyway use it on your railings Do Not use it on the treads – that’s probably obvious but for safety sake I thought I would say it.  I love that you can easily wipe down anything you finish it with and it helps prevent chips and scratches.

Once again before:





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This project was time consuming yet way cheaper than having someone come in and do it the other way……I am seriously happy it’s over.  What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Summertime Renovations Pt.1

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