12 of 52 Weeks Beautiful and Useful

This project feels like it will never end, it is probably older than you. If there was some sort of scale of satisfaction tied to home projects this one would score high, but if that same scale was used for annoying, overbearing, too big, too much work, when will it be done, my lungs are burning, can this get any worse, OMG when is it going to end, will it ever look good again. Well then, this project will score low on the the satisfaction scale. I wish I had collected all the dust that was created from this project, it could have been made into some sort of bowl, or maybe a new house…not sure, but damn it was everywhere.

The stairwell. The railing. 114 years old. Many layers of paint and stain. One solid piece of fir. Several spindles. Loads a elbow grease. The photo doesn’t look so bad. It is freshly painted, and the floors had just been laid. It was definitely an improvement over the purchase state (above).

The thing is, that after being here for a year, the paint started chipping and the banister just wasn’t looking very good. I was just going to paint over it all again, but figured, maybe it was time to strip the whole thing back, have a look at what’s underneath, and decide what to do from there. I worked away most of the paint on the bottom railing by hand, and the wood (fir), looked fairly decent.

I used an eco-friendly paint stripper (is this an oxymoron, feels like there is some greenwashing going on here). Used the whole tub. Forty pieces of variously graded sandpaper.

After all the goop was removed, I went to work on the bannister with a palm sander. This created huge plumes of dust, and pretty well covered the whole inside of the house with a thick layer of sawdust. Luckily, we planned ahead, and the kids stayed with their grandparents while Big S and I tackled the sanding. It was laborious. Never-ending. Annoying. Not even remotely satisfying.

Took the help of one great husband to finish it off. He got in between the spindles and hand-sanded the spots that the palm sander couldn’t reach. After Big S finished the sanding, we took a look at the finished stairwell, and decided to paint out the spindles white (BM – Cloud White, like the rest of the house).

Almost done. After the photo below, I added some mineral oil to the railings and post to give them a little love after all the sanding.

Still need to find a proper beeswax to complete the project, but it is usable now. There’s a portion under the drywall that we’re going to uncover, eventually, not now. We still need to get a new stair runner and new treads, but the railing and newell post are free of paint, and feel smooth and lovely.  It isn’t perfect, but it has character.

While we were busy working on the stairwell, I spied this happening outside…kind of wish we’d been able to enjoy more of it.

Linking-up with Jules from Pancakes and French Fries, can’t wait to see how everyone else’s William Morris projects went this week.

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8 thoughts on “12 of 52 Weeks Beautiful and Useful

  1. I have tackled a staircase before so I have an idea what you were in for with this job. I have to say it was worth the pain! The result is so cheerful. That old wood has such personality.

  2. I am impressed! I hate sanding with a big, fatty passion. Love the rustic wood you uncovered, though. You are better people than me. Don’t think I’d have the stamina to see it through. So glad to have found your blog–

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