Stellar Staircases — The Results or How to install a stair runner

How to Install a Stair Runner
How to Install a Stair Runner
For weeks I dreamed of a stellar staircase with dark stained treads, white risers and swirling teal stenciled leaves.  Then reality happened and I found out there were some questions I should have answered first.  Now that we have the answers, here is where we arrived.  Those stairs needed padding and floor covering.  Not wall to edge as it had been before, but at least the path up and down the stairs had to be covered for appearance, sound control and traction for our pet.  At first I could not find stair runners anywhere, then the nearby home center restocked.  Their runners were expensive and not what I wanted at all — dark and/or busy patterns.  I bought regular hallway rugs in a neutral gray beige and planned to install those.  And then I found a stair runner at a discount home center that specializes in selling “leftovers”. 

It was light colored which was important for the space and the gray on the edge pattern went well with the gray painted stairs.  It was patterned without being really busy.  And the price was right.  So I popped it in the trunk and brought it home.    Here’s how we installed it:
How to Install a Stair Runner from A Pinch of Joy First we measured and marked our guidelines.  The inside of the blue tape is where the pad edge should come.  The runner edge will match up with the edge of the tape toward the wall.  Measure the top and bottom steps and then run a string tightly between the two points.  That will save you measuring each and every step!  Just be careful you don’t move the string as you apply the tape.

See that large ancestral picture in the middle?  The one with the reflection of the yellow bucket full of tack strips setting on the basement floor?  That’s part of the “Mom has eyes in the back of her head” system.  Don’t tell my sons but that was how I knew what they were doing in the basement without actually having to walk down the steps.  A little craning and crouching and the whole room is visible :-)   The gallery itself has changed several times, but Great Grandma’s picture remains fast! 

Add tack strips
Tack strips are very inexpensive.  They have tacks pointing upward so that you can catch and hold the carpet or runner.  They also have small nails every few inches pointing downward so that you can easily nail them into place.  Cut the tack strip with a pair of tin snips.  (Garden pruning shears would also work.)  Work carefully while cutting.  You may even want to wear heavy gloves.  They are prickly and can inflict a deep wound.  The little wooden sticks on the step are actually jigs one quarter inch square.  We needed the tack strip to be half an inch out from the stair riser.  Two jigs side by side were an easy way to measure and gave us something to push up against while nailing the tack strip on the tread.  Stack a third jig on top of the back jig and that gives a half inch rise and will hold the tack strip up while installing it on the riser.    See my swirly stencilled pattern? 

Staple pad in place
While Wheels nailed the tack strips into place I precut the pad using kitchen shears.  It cut fairly easily but was tiring so I took three or four stabs at it to rest my hands, especially when I first started and had to deal with the entire piece.   Beginning just below the bullnose curve on the stair tread, I cut the pad at an angle in toward the center to minimize the excess.  The pad only has to come down the riser just far enough to hold the staples that keep it in place. 

Unroll runner When the pads are in place unroll the runner.  We had conflicting advice here, but decided to go with the “start at the bottom and work up” method because it made the most sense.  Fastening it to the bottom gave a place from which to stretch the runner by pushing it up and forward.  The remaining carpet was up and out of the work area and the worker is standing on what has been completed.  Just much less complicated all the way around, it seemed to us.  So we centered the runner on the stairs and started at the bottom.

Tap into place Staple and tack  the runner tightly under the bullnose.   Bytes used a heavy board to leverage the runner into place and lean against it to hold it tight while he stapled it.  Then tacks were added as needed to keep the runner tight against the riser.  Pull the runner tight, keeping it even and in alignment with your premeasured guides.   Use a flat narrow tool — this one is a brick cutter from our tool bin, but there are rug laying tools also available.   Begin in the middle to tap the rug between the two tack strips.  As you force it into place the tacks on both strips will catch and hold it securely. 

Finish
Finish by bringing the runner up the last riser and cutting it to length.  This riser has no padding.  Staple the runner into place.  Add the metal threshold at the top to protect both the floor and the top of the riser. 

This project certainly evolved as we went along.  It was nowhere near the vision I had in mind, but it is what is best for the situation.  It looks clean and fresh. The lighter colors brighten up the area considerably.  No more clomp, clomp, clomp.  The cat can make her way down to the litter box.  Now to work on the wonderful wallpaper and repaint the wall.  Wonder how those will evolve?????

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Stellar Staircases – The Reality

Reality1

Reality title
For weeks, I had been collecting inspiration pictures for redoing our basement stairs.  What I finally pictured was a beautiful staircase with gorgeous dark stained treads, gleaming white risers and lilting teal blue stenciled designs.   Then reality happened. 

Reality1
We started with this lovely carpet covering each stair.  Classic Seventies.  Original.  Chosen by the previous owner.  What can I say?  Basement stairs have been low priority.    Wheels ripped it off and I began unstapling the pads and prying up the old tack strips.  This was what I found beneath the carpet. 

Reality2 
Not pretty.  Not pretty at all.   I know the wallpaper is ugly and really strange, too.  Does it help if I tell you that the previous owner also chose it?  I didn’t think so.  In fact, now you know we have been living with this nautical disaster for  and did not remove it while the engine was still hot on the moving van!    Basement stairs have been low priority. 

But now I have a plan, a vision and soon we will have a gorgeous dark stained and white staircase with swirling stencils. 

Reality3a Then reality hit.  The stairs were full of knots and the wood was very rough.  There were wide gaps between the tread and the riser.  And the wall. There were gouges and nail holes.  Smoothing them out would take a lot of work, filling and sanding.  Stain on top of that would likely be very uneven and spotty.  The goal became smooth dark gray enamel treads.   With gleaming white risers.  And sweeping stencils. 

Oh. Did I mention the bare stairs were noisy?  The carpet had muffled all the squeaks and squawks of an old staircase with some warped boards.  Carpet had also muffled the noise of the water heater that sets almost under the top of the stairs.  It also had muffled the sounds of heavy shoes on the bare wood.  Clomp, clomp, clomp.  Someone always found a need to go up and/or down the staircase while someone else was on the phone in the office where the door to the basement is located.  Clomp, clomp,clomp.  “Excuse me — there was some interference on the line — I’m so sorry. . .”   Clomp, clomp, clomp.   Down to the freezer — the laundry — storage — the treadmill — craft space — clomp,clomp, clomp. 

Reality4
Wheels added screws to each step and riser at strategic points to tighten the wood joins.  That also helped quiet the squeaks and squawks.  I filled the nail holes, knot holes and gouges, then sanded.   Caulked the gaps between treads and risers and the wall.  That helped muffle the hot water heater fan and the sound of the burner since the water heater was located almost under the staircase.   We reached a point where I could finally paint.  That gorgeous dark gray paint that was supposed to go on the treads?  Well, it made the unlighted staircase positively cavelike.  Imagine what the dark stain would have done!   Okay, I’ll paint everything  gleaming white.  Do you know what work boots, sneakers, black dress shoes and any other shoe sole does to white paint?  Treads.  And prints.  There were tread marks and shoe prints all over the gleaming white.

Okay.  Light gray it is.    The color really did brighten up the space and made it seem much larger.  Shoe marks were still somewhat visible, but not so bad.  Tread and riser both are painted light gray.  No delicious dark stain.  No gleaming white.  But there will still be sweet leafy stencils. 

Reality5
           You wouldn’t believe how easy this is!  Or how simple!  Or how quickly it can be done! 

Reality6
All it takes is a plastic stencil, painter’s tape, craft paint in your choice of color and a cute little dauber.  Don’t put a lot of paint on the dauber, pounce it gently on the openings in the stencil.  Carefully remove the stencil when done.  Gorgeous!  And you feel so crafty and creative.  

But then you realize there is a strange and very heavy odor at the head of the stairs.  The almost elderly cat has trouble getting down those bare stairs.  She begins to avoid them altogether and the heavy odor locates itself somewhere else.   The litter box is in the basement laundry room.   Now the reasons to clomp, clomp, clomp down the stairs include carrying a yowling cat.  And every day I am wiping down these stairs with a damp cloth to remove the tread marks and dust that  make the stairs look dark, dingy and unkempt. 

Questions to consider in deciding how to finish stairs:  1) What kind of physical condition are the stairs?  2) Can the family pet (or all family members)  navigate bare stairs?   3) How frequently do humans use the stairs during the day?  4) How loud and how distracting is the noise of people going up and down the stairs?  5) Is the planned finish easy to maintain and keep clean?   6) What effect does the chosen color have on the space? 

I stenciled two stair risers.   T
hey are lovely. 

Next week — the results.   Not quite the staircase vision I had in mind.

I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing! 

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How to make old art new again

Renewing Old Art (yes, you can!) -- A Pinch of Joy

How to change mat colors -  quick, easy and no cost  A Pinch of Joy

How to make old art new again.  And make it coordinate with new room colors.  And do it quickly,  easily and at almost no cost.   That was the challenge in our dining room makeover. 

I found this picture at a garage sale a few years ago.  Someone was selling off the almost new contents of their office,  including artwork.  This reminded me of a spot in one of our favorite hiking areas, a place called Highbanks,  in the spring time.  When I got it home, the title of the piece is “Spring”.  It’s pretty good sized – 48 inches by 38 inches –  and very heavy.  For a while it hung in the living room.   However, a perfect spot opened up when we did the dining room.  Except  the mat colors made it look way too heavy for the light, airy and meditative vibe I was going for.   Plus I didn’t think they really conveyed “Spring”.   

Wall Art.Old

So I unceremoniously turned the picture upside down on the dining room table and began to disassemble it.  I had pictures but when we changed computers last fall,  those photos were among the missing.  I did edit in the mat colors below so you can see how dark it was.   

I experimented with the color swatches for several days, trying different combinations to pick up different portions of the picture.  I really liked the one that picked up the orangey color, but again the over all effect was not the serene feeling I wanted.  Finally I decided to go with the wall color and the color of the adjacent hallway.  They didn’t jar or call attention to themselves and blended with both the wall color (since it IS the wall color)  and the colors in the picture. 

I carefully removed the dust cover so I would be able to reuse it.  Some are stapled on, the better ones are glued and a little tricky to get off in one piece.  A sharp thin knife helps.   Then I slipped out the mats, being very careful not to let them bend and become nicked or creased.  I placed them on a tarp on the garage floor, which was the only work place big enough to hold them both flat.

Then . . . .the secret to new mats that are quick, easy and  no cost.  Drum roll please. 

The very same paint that was used to paint the walls.  Yes, just latex paint.  I used a small roller just wide enough to cover the entire mat and quickly did a light coat of their respective colors to seal and prime the mat itself.  When that dried in about 30 minutes.  I came back with another coat.  Thirty minutes later a third light coat.  I let them dry over night to be sure they were thoroughly dry and would not stick to one another or to the glass. 

I carefully cleaned the inside of the glass (and missed one fingerprint at the bottom that no one else can see but that screams at me!).  Then I reassembled the entire thing, following exactly the same steps as in disassembling except in reverse.   The hardest part was getting the dust cover on straight and in one piece, but even that was fairly easy. There were so many options for color choice, but I like this one because it flows with the  strong wall color and does not compete with the wall or the picture.  That lets the print speak for itself. 

It does that and quite clearly too.  When my friend saw it, she exclaimed “Oh, that’s the spot in Highbanks where we go hiking.”  I don’t know if the artist even knew Highbanks existed when he painted it.  But it was great to know that the print elicited the same positive thoughts of hiking on a beautiful spring day in at least two people.   Art that speaks to people!

I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing! 

Subscribe by email  on the sidebar  or follow on Facebook, RSS feed, bloglovin’  twitter  and check out my  pinterest boards.   If you found this helpful or inspiring please share below!  Your support of A Pinch of Joy is  appreciated!

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