Monday, July 22, 2013

Staircase Makeover - AKA The Beast

When we moved into this house there were two things that drove me nuts.
1. The horrid staircase with white spindles.
2. The honey oak floors.

U-G-L-Y – it ain’t got no alibi!

After four years of living here, we decided to have the floors refinished. We got a couple of quotes for the floor and separate quotes to have the staircase refinished. We were ok with the floor quote we decided to go with especially because we got the Mike Richardson discount (negotiated deal on every product or service- he is the master negotiator). #WilliamShatnerhasnothingonhim. The staircase quotes on the other hand were outrageous! We may as well replace the whole staircase for the price they wanted.

So one day I pulled a Rachel Hall and waited until my husband was at work and I started this project myself. I broke out the wood stripper and went to town. #noturningback

When hubby got home that night all he could do is shake his head. He said "I guess YOU are doing the staircase"? 

I had a deadline to meet because the floor guy was coming to do the floors and I had to have the railing stripped and sanded and ready to accept stain.

I worked day and night and meticulously stripped and sanded the railing and I was ready. So, we packed up the kids and headed to Kalahari for a few days. This is what the floors looked like when we left:

Looking good…. On the way out the door we asked the floor guy to throw a coat of the stain on the railing and then enjoyed our mini vacation. I drove my husband crazy talking about the project being done at the house. I was just hoping the floors and railing would look as good finished as I pictured them in my head. I couldn’t wait to get home.

Well...they didn't.

They looked like crapola!

The floors were a mess and the railing was a nightmare!
In hindsight, the signs were all there. Aren't they always?

Here is the short list of red flags:

1: This was a pre finished hardwood floor. The floor guy had never done one before and it turned out to be his nemesis.

2. The floor guy let the deadline get the best of him. He knew that he should have re-sanded the floor when he noticed it wasn’t accepting the stain. He should've started all over, but he didn’t. He kept going including 3 layers of poly. #knowwhentosaywhen

3. We asked the floor guy to stain the railing. Floor guys are in the business of floors...not railings.

4. The floor guy said he could sand the false treads on the stairs. He must not have realized that his sanders have the strength to sand through a brick wall. He ended up completely destroying one tread (and a couple more that are questionable). #thankgoodnessMikeRichardsoncanfixanything

5. We paid someone to do a job we should have just done ourselves. Every time we think we will give ourselves a break and hire a job out, it is ALWAYS a disaster! #whenwillwelearnourlesson

Before we beat up on the floor guy, I seriously have to cut him a break. When we returned home, there was a note to call him and he owned up to everything. He said he was not happy with the job and admitted he rushed. He said he stands by his work and he came back and completely re-finished the floors. I am happy to report that they look great. He is a very nice guy, we have seen his work from friends and I would in fact recommend him to someone else. Truthfully, from my years of experience sewing for hire, I know exactly what it is like to overpromise or bite off more than I can chew. This was a classic case of a nice guy who didn’t want to say no and took on way more than he could handle. #sadlyniceguysdofinishlast
So this is where the beast part comes in…..

Because he covered the railing disaster with 3 coats of poly… YES THREE! WHY THREE DUDE??? Why when he saw that the stain looked like crap didn't he just leave it?
I had to strip and sand the whole thing ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

AND this time around I had to do the false treads too.

I swear I wanted to cry! The dust that was all over my house was insane! I tried to cover things as much as I could with plastic to contain the area, but the staircase is in the most open area of the house. I kept asking Mike to change the furnace filter every five minutes because I swear it was coming back through the vents. Of course he changed it once, but I’m sure you could imagine where he told me to go with the suggestion of changing it every five minutes.

Finally, I finished the staining and added 3 coats of poly myself.

I painted the side of the staircase to match the trim. This was the plan the whole time…but I wonder if I should have stained that part as well. I think I could have been happy either way.

After all this time (weeks and weeks and weeks), I felt accomplished.

Enter Mike Richardson’s handy work…. He went to his favorite wood/trim/railings/doors/man-land store called ASA Builders Supply and picked up the wrought iron railings we had ordered a few weeks before.
I was at work when he texted me this picture. YAY!!! I was giddy when I saw it!

You will notice that there is one tread that has not been stained in the picture above. Yep, that is the one Mike Richardson had to replace because somebody ruined it with their sander.

I asked Mike if he would have his buddy take a picture of him working on the staircase for the blog.

He sent me a SELFIE!!! HAAAAAA I can’t believe he sent me a selfie! Little does he know that it made it’s way into the blog! #cantstoplaughing

This is what it looks like with all of the spindles completed, I just needed to stain and poly that one step.

Ahhh... finished!

As with every project I learn a lot. Typically, the lesson is that I will never do that project again. Or that the projects are never as easy breezy as some people make it on the internet. The BEAST almost brought me to my knees, but in the end, I could not be more proud of my attention to detail and patience. #totallyworthwhile

The Beast before and after:


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