Hermia the Hallway: Stairway to Heaven

When thinking about what style we wanted our home to have, we came across this picture from Better Home and Garden’s blog. Everything from the color pallette to the runners were exactly what we were looking for. With muse in hand, we set to work.

BHG Style Spotters
BHG Style Spotters

We had already ripped up the carpet on the stairs during our first great carpet removal but weren’t lucky enough to have beautiful hardwood underneath. We did have some decent builder grade particle board for the tread and risers. Our first idea was to buy some new stair treads. Home Depot sales some nice pine ones for about $10 a pop. The price wasn’t bad but we had to still purchase new tools, materials and a fridge. We certainly wanted to stretch that $70 further. Pinterest had lots of tutorials on how to paint stairs but the treads were really porous and the risers were pretty rough.

In comes one of our favorite products. We picked up this Durham’s Water Putty at Home Depot for around $8. Since it comes in powder form you have power to make it whatever consistency the project requires. When it is dry you can sand, drill, sawed and painted this bad boy. It isn’t just limited to wood either. You can use it to fill drywall, stone, tile, and concrete among other things. Needless to say it has since become a household go to.

For the deep holes from nails and staples, we made somewhat thick mixture similar to the wood filler you buy in containers.


It is hard to see in this picture, but the filler has very little shrinkage after drying.


For the rest of stair treads, we mixed up a thin batch and applied several thin layers onto the entire tread to fill in all of those tiny porous holes.


It only took about half of the powder to do the entire set of stairs even with waste. We had learned the hard way that the filler dries pretty fast. TIP: Mix up filler in small batches.


Even with the fast dry time, we let the stairs dry overnight to be safe (read: we wanted to go to bed). The next day we gave the the stairs a thorough sanding.


The results were delightful! The stairs were smooth and gorgeous! Well, for particle board.


The thin layers of filler did a great job filling all those tiny crevices for a smooth finish.


With our stairs prepped, we were ready to paint. After wandering around the paint aisles for a while, we came across this oil based paint.  Figuring if it was strong enough for a porch,it was strong enough for our stairs we had a batch of black paint mixed up for us. Neither one of us had ever used oil based paint before. It was quite the adventure. We learned the high price of spills and drips and the necessity of painting with gloves as well as ruined a paint brush or two. The Craftsman blog, has a great guide on how to use polyurethane oil paint. It would have saved us many tears and much time had we read this first!


Slow drying time is one of the most defining characteristics of oil paint. Since we needed to access the upstairs, we painted every other stair. We let the paint cure for 2-3 days and then painted the remaining stairs, letting these stairs cure just as long. Our glutes got a great workout this week.


Wicket didn’t quite get the skip-a step-concept. Rather than risk paw prints we opted for a state of the art barrier.


The barrier may have not been necessary. Wicket seemed more than happy to let us haul him up and down the stairs.

Finally, after a week of dry time the stairs were complete!



There was still the problem of the risers. They could be painted but were still rough even after a generous sanding and we wanted to dress them up a bit. If you have read any of the DIY blogs out there, you have come across the paintable beadboard wallpaper. Eventually we want to replace it with real beadboard but we are still stretching those dollars for the time being.  We found some Martha Stewart Paintable Beadboard online at Home Depot for about $25. We must have missed the big hype. All brands of paintable beadboard wallpaper at Lowes and Home Depot were only available online.

We collected some wallpaper primer, wallpaper paste, seam roller, wallpaper blade, small paintbrush and roller to tackle the risers.


The first step was to prime the risers. TIP: Don’t skip the primer. At first we thought it was an unnecessary step but soon discovered the damage a swamp cooler can do on wallpaper. Primer is a must!


To be safe we painted two thin coats of primer on each riser, allowing 1/2 hour dry time between coats.


We measured out the risers beforehand and cut the wallpaper to the appropriate size. After applying a good amount of paste on, we attached the wall paper left to right, top to bottom. We used the wallpaper blade to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles as we went along.


After applying all the wallpaper to the risers, we began painting right away.


To finish off the steps we caulked any and all seams around the stairs. It made a huge difference!


And here they are! To our amazement they turned out great! Later on we added in shoe trim to every step and a DIY runner but we will go through that during the finishing touches post!


After the stairs were complete we moved to the floor. We used simple tongue and groove bamboo planks. We will go more into floor installation later!


Voila! We had tackled on the biggest parts of of the hallway. Although we were exhausted, every time we went up our stairs it pumped us up to finish the hallway!


Next time we see what happened to those dated hollow core doors!

See you soon,


Leave a Reply