DIY Staircase Remodel

We are 4 years into a slow house remodel and the one thing that we continued to put on the back-burner was our stairs. We finally came to a point where we couldn’t stand the eyesore they produced because they were front and center when guests walked in the front door.

Here are some before pictures:



This was meant to be one of the weekend projects you see on Pinterest. Remove the carpet, sand and stain the treads, paint the risers, replace the newel posts and balusters and call it a day.

Yeah…that didn’t happen.

As we started to remove the carpet, we noticed that the stair treads were not one continuous piece but rather a 2×8 combined with a strip of 1×2.

This along with the fact that the wood was some of the worst cuts I have ever seen, completely ruled out reusing them.

The risers were not in much better shape. Sure they were 1×6’s but there were huge gaps on the sides which proved to be too much to overcome.

Our only choice at that point was to replace the treads with pine treads from Home Depot.

The risers were created using ripped down sheets of 5mm plywood.

The top half of the stair treads were installed first and then stained and poly’ed.  We were able to access to upstairs by doing an every other night process.

The lower half of the stairs were stained and poly’ed ahead of installation to make it easier.

The main reason for this was so that I could replace the balusters at the same time as the treads and not have to worry about getting stain everywhere.

The new newel posts are actually mdf sleeves that I created and slid over the existing posts

I created a jig to cut the rail with just enough space to slide the sleeve through and then secured with lag bolts.


These bottom sleeves were left unattached so that I could raise or lower the main post to line up perfectly with the hand-rail. Once perfection was met, I nailed them to the main column.

Here you can see the new posts and if you look close enough, you can see the brown plug that I used to cover the hole made by the lag bolts.

This project ended up taking a few months longer than anticipated but now that we are done we cannot be happier with the end results.

Next steps are to replace the flooring so that it matches with our new color scheme.





Photo Studio Project

I recently had the pleasure of working on a photo studio project for my sister-in-law and her husband. They are converting a portion of their home into a photo studio and asked me if I would be willing to create a feature wall in it.

Of course I would!

The concept was pretty straight forward.  They wanted the old barn wood look with two barn doors as the feature.  But instead of using barn wood, we decided to get some 1/4″ plywood and create planks. The picture below shows all of the planks that I cut.  They are laid out in the driveway so that I can beat them up a bit to get that aged look.

After the planks were cut, I started to stain them using MinWax Classic Gray
The idea was to stain them gray and then go over them with white paint to create a bit of a distressed look.
Board stained and painted.


Doing some distressing.


My helper beating up the boards.
After the boards were painted and stained, it was just a matter of cutting them to length and installing. I used a couple of nickles between boards to get proper spacing.


And there you have it!  I noticed in this picture that the left most wall is not covered yet but in fact that was done as well.
Next time I will show you the barn doors that are now the focal point of this wall!
In addition, I also made a baby gate half barn door that I will showcase in the future. 🙂


Board and Batten Hallway

There are only a few places left in our home that are original to the previous home owners. The upstairs hallway is one of those places.  For the first few years of us living there, we left the color as it was – beige.  Heck, we even put our pictures and decorations in locations that already had nails in place. Well this last summer, I had some time off and decided to change things up a bit.

We really like the board and batten look that we did near the front door so we decided to mimic that in this hallway.


The first step was to paint the top half of the walls and the doors and door trim.  We chose a blue-ish grey color for the walls and the doors and door trim was a high gloss enamel from Sherwin Williams. I also removed all of the floor trim.


After the trim, doors, and wall were painted, I went to the hardware store and purchased a few sheets of 1/2″ mdf.  I have Kreg Rip-Cut attachment so cutting the boards to the necessary width was a breeze.

I first attached the new baseboard making sure it was level.  I then used a few precut vertical pieces to calculate where the top horizontal board should go.

Of course not all of the pieces lined up perfectly but that is why using MDF and wood putting works so well!  Filled in the holes and sanded down the edges and before long, everything looked perfect.

I capped the trim with a simple 1×2 pre-primsed piece of MDF and did a simple piece of molding underneath the trim.

A coat of primer and a few coats of the white enamel paint and we were done!






Our next project will be to tackle that banister and eventually some hardwood floors.


Easter Cross

I had the great pleasure of building a cross for my church for the Easter season this year. After much thought, I came up with what you see below.

I have made a lot of things over the years but I will always remember this one with great fondness.

More Trim Work

We haven’t been posting alot on here lately. It’s not that we haven’t been doing anything but just the opposite. We are so busy we haven’t had the time to post.
With that,  we leave you with a before and after photo of the door leading into the garage. We recently replaced the trim and it made a huge difference!
We are also wrapping up the kitchen island project!  It’s almost complete and ready to show off!  Let me tell you,  it’s amazing! 

Board and Batten Coat Wall Tutorial

It’s been awhile since I promised the tutorial on how I did my board and batten coat wall so here it is…finally. Things have been pretty hectic in our household.  I am still working on the kitchen island project and getting more and more done everyday. 

I am also wrapping up Ashley’s “new” makeup vanity, working on a countertop for the kitchen, and putting together a art room table for my sister in law.

To add to this list, we are also putting together some ideas for our toy room and a loft bed for one of our daughters. Live is good but life is busy!

If you remember back, this is how our entry looked originally and except for a new coat of paint on the walls, pretty much how we bought the house.

The original “dated” look

I used SketchUp to get a general idea of how I wanted it to look. I find its also easier for me to show Ashley my ideas this way rather than trying to explain it with simple drawings. This tool is awesome and free!

Sketchup Drawing
It’s always a good idea to have a helper on a big project like this. Luckily I have one that is always willing to lend a hand. 
Our first step was to replace the trim around the door. This part was actually highlighted in this post and was the crucial first step before I could go on with the coat wall. 
Next up was a trip to the home improvement store to get an idea of what we wanted and to price out the material.  Using precut mdf would have been easier but also a lot more expensive. 
So instead I bought a few pieces of 2’x4′ mdf sheets and decided to cut them manually. 
My cutting technique was far from perfect and it took far too long. I used as straight of a board as I could and then proceeded to measure and clamp it for every cut I needed. 

I used my new Black & Decker Matrix for this job. The small circular saw went through this wood like a hot knife through butter. 
The wood has been cut and is ready for finishing. 
To help the edges from getting that rough feel, I proceeded to use spackling paste along each edge. It was a long and tedious process but the end result was great. 
First up was to remove the old chair rail and bottom molding pieces. Then the cross pieces went up. I used liquid nails and my trusty air compressor and nailer.  

After the cross pieces were in place, I proceeded to nail up the vertical pieces and then the top shelf and moldings. I got lucky and most of the vertical pieces landed on a stud but one I ended up having to use liquid nails and tape.

A coat of oil based primer and then some paint and this project was complete.