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Barefoot Home Improvement, Episode One: Stair Painting

August 27, 2015

barefoot home improvement

Don’t need shoes for this either . . . although I had to be super-darn-careful while pulling out the poky strips that had held the (NASTY DUSTY!) carpet down for the last 27 years.

stairs without carpet

Once this crumbly orange padding stuff was gone, it was time to fill in (some of) the holes in the cheap plywood subfloor, sand away (see first photo), and then brush on two coats of primer.

filled and primered stairs

It got a little messy, trying to keep track of eight cans of paint (on sale for 99 cents each at the local Ace Hardware).

messy stair painting project

mixing brown and green floor paint

I chose eight colors (total paint cost: $8!) that reminded me of Orange County’s beautiful coastal sage scrub habitat: fading shades of sagebrush and willow (which I mixed a bit), the brown of end-of-summer buckwheat blossoms, a reddish reminder of poison oak (as well as the new growth of laurel sumac), dusty beige, the cheerful sun-glow of our asteraceae friends, and shades of mid-day (and mid-night) sky.

I had to go over each “stripe” twice to cover the stark white primer . . . which meant many many many hours of crouching and/or kneeling on the steps, trying not to mess up the adjacent wet paint. The paint job that inspired me to do this did not make use of straight lines, so that was a big relief . . . ’cause it’s darn near impossible (for me, anyway, and I just spent several days practicing) to paint a super straight line (which I guess is why the meticulous folks out there use masking tape; I’m not one of them).

painted stairs from pinterest

This is the Pinterest “model” I followed. Sort of . . .

Final step, times three: a thin layer of water-based “varnish” (which is REALLY difficult to keep from drips/runs/gooey messes: insert very sad face here).

final three coats

(And now: Sound trumpet fanfare . . . )

painted stairs

barefoot prints on painted stairs

“Dusty” footprints to lead the way up . . .

profile of Old Saddleback on painted stairs

And, in the photo above, a “hidden picture” . . . since I wasn’t going for straight lines anyway, I decided to include a little outline of our iconic eastern landmark, Old Saddleback (made up of two mile-high peaks, Santiago and Modjeska, poking out of the Santa Ana Mountains).

looking down at painted stairs

Everybody’s a critic: this is me admiring my work from above, whilst my helpful husband points out an especially egregious set of drips (that I will eventually fix . . . but I’ve had my share of stair-crouching the last five days. Time for a barefoot run!).

In the meantime, we’ve been using an eight-foot ladder to get upstairs for the last few days . . . it’s good to be old-but-agile (and not afraid of heights). Aside from ripping out the old carpet for me, and taking the first picture in this post, my husband has wisely kept out of the way, but I’m guessing he’ll be glad to be able to use the (NEWLY PAINTED! NO MORE 27-year-old CARPET!) stairs again.


Happy (Painted?) Trails . . .

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