March 09, 2019

Affordable DIY Staircase Makeover

Welcome to the first of MANY home renovation posts! (I know you're excited..)

This past Summer we became official first time home owners. Homeowners to a wonderful 103 year old house. Yes, you read that correctly. Our lovely little abode is a whopping one hundred and three. As you can imagine, she's in need of a little TLC and we're more than happy to give it to her.

When you have a home that needs a little a lot of work, it feels a bit overwhelming deciding where to start. Well, our staircase was ugly. Yep, plain old ugly. And since it's a commonly used area of the house we decided getting that sorted was high on the to-do list.

The stairs were extremely worn looking. Paint chipping, scuff marks- just really bad. Seeing as we're a single income family we needed to figure out how to make them look good without spending a ton of money.

At first we decided to try stripping the old paint off, re-sanding and then giving them a fresh coat of paint. Bypassing the need to spend money at all.

BUT that didn't work because I'm 99% sure the stairs were just as old as the house itself and the wood used for the treads was beginning to rot. They definitely needed to be replaced.

So off they came. Fortunately for us, the risers (other than needing fresh paint) were still in great condition.

Stair treads, when purchased from a homeware store like Home Depot, are actually quite expensive. Ranging anywhere from $15.00 to $55.00 PER TREAD. With twelve treads needed we were looking at $180 to $660 and that was just not in the budget.

We ended up just buying six 3/4 inch pine shelving planks (72in x 10in) and cut them down a little to fit the staircase. We were able to get two stair treads per board and each board cost approx. $10.

Total cost was $60 compared to $180 which fit our budget nicely.

Before placing the treads we used a trimmer to round out the edges so they weren't sharp and then we pinned the treads down with 18Ga brad nails along with some PL premium adhesive. For the finishing touches we just used a light coating of clear varnish and then caulked all of the seams with dap.

We decided to leave the stairs in their natural pine state for now. I feel like this definitely brightens the stairwell up and it now looks a lot more welcoming.

So there you have it- a rather easy, inexpensive way to make over your staircase with pine shelving instead of pre-made treads. Are the shelving planks as durable as the pre-made treads? The answer is no they are not. We've completed this project a few months ago and there are little cracks forming on the treads. So my advice to you (if you decide to try this method) is to buy 1 inch thick boards instead of 3/4 inch and also opt for pine boards that aren't knotty because that seems to be where the cracks start. Does this change my mind about our decision? Absolutely not. You gotta do what you gotta do right? This fit our current budget, it looks good and we're happy with it!

Let me know your thoughts on pine shelving in place of regular treads!


  1. Omg the difference is amazing!

  2. Our home is of a similar age (well, 105, so slightly younger), and you definitely need to get creative, otherwise it is going to be eating up all your money.

    1. Oh for sure! Were always trying to think of cheaper alternatives when renovating! Its worth it though...I'd take this old home with tons of character over a newer, modern home anyday! :)

  3. Aw wow, these are gorgeous! I have always loved wooden stairs and old houses too, that's so cool how old it is! :D loving your new blog look, it's beautiful! So sorry I haven't stopped by for a while :D xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara

    1. Thanks so much! I love old houses too. The older the better! :) Its actually a brand new blog! haha Don't worry, you didn't miss much. I actually haven't blogged in like a year and a half (oops!)

  4. What a difference !! Very pretty :)