After a week of intensive stair painting, this project is finally showing signs of completion. The steps are now a deep shade of olive green, sort of antique and modern at the same time.
Before someone rakes me over the coals for painting wood, let me show you a few before shots:
Originally, I was thinking maybe I could strip and re-stain the stair treads, but ultimately decided against it. The stairs are soft pine with an ugly grain, loads of stains, and a little bit of water damage. I'm certain all the work it would take to refinish them would be wasted on a junky end product.
Let's get real. This is a modest, depression-era house in a middle class neighborhood. No fancy hardwood here. So if all that doesn't grant me a license to paint wood, I'm not sure what would.
After filling all sorts of holes and gouges with wood filler and some of the cracks with painters caulk, I was ready for primer. I used latex Kilz Premium, my favorite stain-blocking primer, and then it was time to paint!
In my design mock-up, I planned on painting a faux stair runner, but that didn't go exactly as planned.
When I started taping out my runner, I tried re-positioning the tape and the paint and primer peeled up along with an ultra thin layer of the stairs themselves. I won't belabor the details because I'd rather not relive it through the photographic evidence, but I ended up having to sand the stairs even after I had already primed them. There was anger and cursing and crying. But I powered through the awfulness of that, and then slightly changed my game plan.
I knew if I still wanted white borders along the edges of the stairs, that was going to set me back about three more days while I waited for each coat of the white paint to dry. (Latex enamel suggests waiting 24 hours between coats, and after my primer not sticking, I wasn't going to bend the rules.) If I just painted the entire width green, I could avoid that whole three day diversion without giving up much of anything.
It's also worth mentioning again that this staircase is only accessed through my daughter's room, which restricts me to painting during her waking hours.
So after that whole debacle, I primed two coats and then painted four coats of a bright olive green (allen + roth's Dog Park mixed into Valspar Porch and Floor paint). It was really thin; thinner than most latex paints, hence the four coats. In hindsight, I probably should have used a tinted primer. I don't know when I'm going to stop making that mistake.
I still have some touching up to do, especially on the trim. And I haven't given up on the idea of doing some detail painting. I have some ideas, but haven't started on anything yet.
p.s. I decided against any further detail painting for now.
See all the stairway updates >>