Well hello there, ugly stairs! There were a lot of things I didn't love about our house when we bought it and the stairs were definitely one of them.  Here's how they looked the first day we saw the house on our walk-through tour. Those balusters and handrails . . .What the . . .?

Ugly Stairs Before
And after two years of living with them they only got worse. The carpet got even more nasty and the handrails started falling apart.  **Please ignore the falling-out-of-its-frame photo in the background and our makeshift baby gate (bench) blocking the stairs!Ugly Stairs Before Update
Finally by year two we found a bit of time to fix the stairs.  Here's Jim, pulling off the risers.  We decided to reuse these since they are good solid pieces of wood.
DIY Stair Update removing risersWe just had to remove some nails, fill the holes and give them a sanding before painting them white. DIY Stair Update removing risersDIY Stair Update risers and treads removed

DIY Stair Update risers and treads removed

And there are the risers all fixed up and back in their place:

Next we nailed down the white oak stair treads:Stairs updated with oak treads and white painted risers

After removing the balusters I took out all of the nails.  We were able to reuse almost every single baluster and only ended up having to buy a few more.  I LOVE saving money!
resuing old balusters for stair update

reuse old balustersThere's one of my stacks of old balusters, nails removed and holes filled, ready to be taken to the miter saw where I cut off the angled ends. After that they were sanded, given a coat of oil-based primer, and then several coats of white paint.
old balusters nails removed

Once that was dry we pre-drilled a hole into the bottom of the baluster and then put in one of these two-sided baluster screws. (<--affiliate link)**Tip: drawing an X on the bottom will give you the exact center point to place the screw.two-sided screws in the bottom of painted balusters
Before we were able to put in the balusters, we installed the (unfinished) DIY newel posts and landing posts.  Then we put the handrail in place using clamps.  This made it so we knew where we needed to cut off the top of each baluster.  I know there is a mathematical way of calculating all of this, but I just didn't get it.  Our method worked for us.
DIY baluster installation

Here's a close-up look at putting a baluster into place. After a hole was drilled into the baluster, we'd put a two-sided screw halfway into it. Next, we'd pre-drill a hole into the stair, and then we would basically "screw" the baluster into place until it was flush against the floor:

How To Install Stair BalustersAnd here's the DIY handrail in place.  By the way, this is a simple 2x4 with the rounded edges sawed off, then primed and painted. The tops of the balusters were nailed into the handrail (from the underside of the handrail).DIY handrail from 2x4 painted white

To see how our updated stair project turned out click here: Stair Update Part Two

DIY Stair Update from carpet to wood


  1. […] leftover wood from other projects.  Recognize these?  They are the old oak balusters from our stair update.   And most of the drawer dividers? Those are pieces of beetle-kill pine that my friend Kristen gave […]

  2. […] lumber. I actually used a leftover 48" white oak stair tread (that I ordered as an extra when we re-did our stairs . . . and then forgot to […]

  3. […] month you saw the first part of our Stair Update, where we said goodbye to dirty carpeted stairs and hello to white oak stairs with white risers. […]

  4. […] we re-did our stairs a few years ago, I held onto the old oak handrails (because I kinda have this thing about holding […]

Leave a Comment