As you can see from the before image (top right), the staircase was natural oak. Dated and dreadful. NOT the first impression I ever wanted to give my guests. Replacing it with European style iron railing was the cost of an new car. What was a girl to do?
1. After all the prep work, taping off the balusters and laying down carpet protection, I stripped the existing varnish off the staircase with Klean-Strip. It was nasty, smelly full-of-chemicals stuff. I had to ask Mr. CG to keep the kids away for an entire day. I wore a mask, and the fumes gave me a bad headache. And I still had to sand afterwards.
2. Sand, sand, sand, then sand again. I spent about 4 hours just sanding until my fingers cramped and refused another stroke. Luckily the stairs were never varnished so I only needed to use 180-grit sandpaper to clean up the surface.
3. I cleaned off the sanding residue with clean cloth and some mineral turps, then stained the upper hand rail with Woodoc Gel Stain in Antique Imbuia, left this to dry and then applied Woodoc 5 polywax sealer according to the instructions - three coats with some sanding with Woodoc steelwool between coats.
You have to let each coat dry properly, and then rub down with Woodoc Steelwool. This removes any residue from the surface so that the next coat is absorbed properly.
4. The lower section and rails were painted with Velvaglo - White - for sheer ease of application and durability.
5. Now it's time to finish off by painting the bottom half of the wall in chocolate brown (I chose the bold chocolate brown colour because I needed something to draw your eye away from that contractor carpet), installing a section of trim up the wall, some wallpaper panels, and finishing off with moulding trim around the panels (stops the wallpaper from lifting up around the edges - a great help if you have kids that like to slide their hands up and down the walls!)..