Stairway to Heaven…

Today’s post is a looooong time coming. The very first project we did in our house (back in Nov 2016!), was remove some walls. Well, not counting painting. ๐Ÿ˜

Part of that project was removing half of our stairwell wall, so we could have an open staircase for the last 5 steps. The problem with doing this, is the hubs and I each decided we wanted the bottom stairs to be symmetrical. Meaning, instead of leaving a (very short!) wall remaining where it originally existed and capping it off (so the balusters on the left side would be angled at the bottom instead of installed directly into the stair tread), the hubs would have to entirely rebuild the bottom stairs. Otherwise, the left side of those bottom stairs wouldn’t be wide enough to support the balusters and rail.

Here are some pictures of the stairwell before demo:

Can you tell the second picture was taken shortly after moving in? Haha.

Here’s during and after demo (OMG, I spy baby H! ๐Ÿ˜):

While we hired out the work you see above (installation of the beam, column, and moving the light switches), the hubs wanted to do all the finishing work to save some expense. Except he decided to wait for his dad to visit to help him finish the stairs, because, well… stairs are hard. ๐Ÿ˜‚

So our staircase literally stayed in the form of the bottom pictures (shown above) for about a year until his dad visited, and they framed out those steps (in late 2017).

Shortly after, my husband installed the stair treads (and sanded the other stairs) to stain all the treads and paint the risers at once, but the steps stayed like that for another year. Here’s a horrible picture of him painting the second coat of paint on the risers:

I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy because we have 3 kids, but we taught them how to climb up and down the stairs carefully. They were pros at it, haha!

About a year later (2018, if you’re keeping track) the hubs and his dad installed the newel posts on the bottom stairs, and his dad measured the placement for the balusters and railing. My only real instructions here are to watch a LOT of YouTube videos, and “dry fit” your baluster spacing before committing and drilling holes (note how the balusters are upside down in the pictures below)… โ˜บ๏ธ

My father-in-law drilled the holes for each baluster, and cut every single one accordingly to fit the height of each railing (note the handrail mounting bracket sticking out of the wall on the right side).

But he didn’t have a chance to start installing anything else on that trip out here, so my husband let the staircase sit without railings (for 6 months), until he could make it back out to finish the job…

Again, the kids were pros at climbing/ descending the stairs safely (and yes, the picture below is on Christmas morning)… Haha!

Finally, during the Super Bowl this year, I decided I’d had enough and primed and painted both the newel posts and cabinet doors from our never-ending built-ins project. Apparently, we like to drag out the last 10% of every project – for years, if possible. ๐Ÿคฃ

My husband also stained the new railings in the interim. Nothing exciting about that process, other than his set-up:

We’re super classy around here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spring of this year, my father-in-law visited again to help finish the project. Since everything had been measured, cut, and stained in advance, they were able to finish the job!

I caulked and painted the new trim edge at some point when they were not actively working (probably golfing, haha!).

Caulk and paint saves everything… ๐Ÿ˜Š

One thing I found neat about the installation was that there are spacers used between each baluster (underneath the railing) to hold the balusters in-place at the top. Apparently, the technical term for these spacers is “fillet,” and they came with the railings. ๐Ÿ˜

The picture below shows no fillet in the circled space:

I expertly helped to nail one of them in place:

Here’s a close-up of what the old balusters looked like:

Not really our style. And they were super gross and stained with who-knows-what from over the years. Also, see the paint stains on the wood floor? The hubs decided to sand that piece down and re-stain before installing the new balusters and rail:

Installation of this section of railing was much more straightforward (no pun intended, haha):

And that is the story of how it took 2.5 years for us to redo our stairwell after removing part of the stairwell wall! Here’s a few after pictures:

And now to save you from scrolling:

I cannot tell you how luxurious it feels to have a legitimate railing when you’re using the stairs. I feel like the Queen of England or something! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Anyone else have projects that linger unfinished for years? Please tell me we’re not the only ones!

2 thoughts on “Stairway to Heaven…

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