Dueling DIY: Stairs and Stripes

If it wasn’t for the fact that last week Sarah over at the Ugly Duckling House was pulling ahead on this stair challenge when we checked in last week, I definitely would have taken more naps this weekend and spent less time with the sander. Which means this challenge is doing exactly what it’s supposed to… keeping my ass motivated.

In the last week there has been a lot of sanding, and in the last twenty-four hours… a little stain. Here are some well sanded stair treads:


It’s become a habit over the last week has been to leave all four sanders and cords in various places on these steps at night, which makes going downstairs in the morning (usually in a desperate attempt to find pants) an adventure.


Last night I finally decided to take the plunge and start staining. It started with a lot of shopvac-ing, tack cloths, and kitty deterrents.


What? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cats hate foil.

Unfortunately my cat thinks he’s a dog.

True story.

Anyway, like Sarah, I feel like the best way to work on stairs while still keeping both floors accessible, is to paint or stain every other stair.


(The tape isn’t for the cat, by the way. That’s definitely for me.)

I’m using the same Rustoleum Dark Walnut stain that I’ve used on the floors in the rest of the house.


Kinda makes my heart go pitty-pat. Or maybe that’s the fumes (which I assume some of you think might be getting to me after the strange happenings  in yesterday’s post.)

Make no mistake, we’re still at the looking-worse-before-it-looks-better stage… but it’s progress.


I’d guess I’m only about 30% of the way finished with this beast, but I’m also only at about 5% of my estimated alcohol consumption which means it hasn’t been nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be.

Also? I didn’t smash even one of my fingers in a door this week. Win!

Sarah is still ahead of me in this race (as you can see here), but I’m closing the gap.

Update: So that foil trick actually worked better than one would think. So well, in fact, that since the cat was stuck downstairs all night he decided to amuse himself by going to the basement, bringing up a bat, and releasing it in the office. You know what’s really fun? Trying to run down every other step at 1AM in your underwear to catch a bat. Which results in this…


23 Responses

  1. Holy wow! I love how the stain brings out the wood grain! And I can’t wait to have stairs of my own. We’re currently living in a teeny apartment without stairs, and I am definitely missing them.

  2. Hey there! I love your blog and I’m sorry that my first comment here is going to be so neurotic… You might know this already but bats are big carriers of rabies so if you made any actual contact with that little guy you might want to call your doctor. Sounds crazy but I read a news story a while ago about a guy who died from rabies when he didn’t even know that a bat had bitten him, and ever since then whenever anyone mentions a bat I’m like DON’T GET RABIES. Again, sorry to be That Commenter.

    1. Kate, thanks for saying it for me! You can also contract rabies from the saliva of the bat without getting bitten. Kit, did right by using her shirt which contained it…till the death basket 🙂

  3. Lordy those stairs are going to be gorgeous! Your cat sounds like a complete PITA – kinda like my cat used to be (before my bitch of a neighbor trapped her poor old sick ass and took her away). But she liked big-ass spiders and garden snakes. I can handle spiders, but don’t get within, oh, about two states of a snake if I can help it.

  4. Your cat had his rabies shot, I hope? In the past I did not worry about my cats getting rabies shots because they never go outside… until one of them found a bat in the house (probably in the attached garage). Bats are kind of cute but they do often carry rabies, and sometimes the sick ones are easier for a cat to catch. All of this is probably just adding to your already long list of concerns, but I’m just thinking about you and kitty.

    Your stairs are looking great, btw.

  5. You live quite a life Kit. The stairs look amazing, definitely worth all the sanding but I know the act of sanding sucks.

  6. Love the wood stain colour! Starting to panic slightly, as there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up in the DIY duel. Everyone is doing so well! Cx

  7. I’m going to second the comment about bats and rabies. Bats are the #1 cause of rabies deaths in the US, and many people that get infected don’t even know they were bitten or had contact with bat saliva. Please make sure your kitty is up to date on shots, and don’t handle any bats without several layers between you! If you come into close contact with a bat, call your doctor!

    1. Kit, Since the bats love your home as much as you do if you don’t already have them get a pair of welders gloves. This was told to us by a person who does bat rescue. Yeah we had a little bat incident ourselves. She also told us to give the bat something to climb up on ie a broom so the little dude could right himself/herself. They don’t like being on the ground and boy you are correct – they get very upset! Also you may want to build the bats a home of their own. Bat boxes are way cool and a natural way of controlling nasty blood sucking insects. Loving the progress on the stairs.

      1. This is probably a really good idea. I actually have a lot of leather work gloves I could use (and I’ve never actually had to touch a bat… I’m pretty good with the basket.) But I never, ever injure them. I’d love to have a Bat box… they are very good to have around!

  8. Those stairs look really really nice. I have some stairs that have been down to just plywood for about a year now and I was going to use granite since they are close to what is one day going to be the location for a wood stove but now I might use some wood so mine can be pretty like yours! Sorry about the bat but lmao.

  9. All the bat concerns I have were already addressed so on to those awesome stairs! They are going to be awesome! Between the tw of you, now I have to decide stained or painted…just when I thought I had it all planned out.

  10. The bat video…..was…. AMAZING! Thank you for my morning giggle! You are much calmer than I would have been. I probably would have had to move. To another state….

  11. Your stairs are gorgeous. What a great way to motivate each other. We had bats for years in our attic. Although they don’t chew like a mouse, they have quite the odor all the nasties and God help you when you are sleeping with one in your bedroom. We were able to rid our attic humanely which was important to me as bats are very beneficial! I can say we are completely bat free. Just grab a beer and sit outside at dusk. You can see where they enter and exit your house. This may take a few hours and beers. When you find the hole, attach a sturdy tube to entrance hole and tape some plastic, like a bread bag with the end cut off, on the opening end. They can fly out but not back in as the plastic collapses. We left this tube on for a month partly cuz we were too lazy to remove it. When you take it down, patch the hole! Good luck! Cheers.

  12. Pingback: Stair DIY
  13. Great work! The stain looks soo pretty! And when I saw it I thought “oh, looks like the stain on our stairs but thank goodness ours already looked like that when we got here!” You’ll have more pride in your steps though!

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