So- first things first. As you can see in those horrific "before" photos, the stairs were covered in lino on the risers and treads, and the stringers were covered in carpet. Gross. So the first order of business was to tear off the carpet, and then the lino.
As you can see, both came up relatively easily- thank heavens. The most painful part of the tear down was pulling all the staples from the carpet out of the stringers. We also ripped up all the "baseboards". Which left us with this beauty:
So first things first- we used the hemlock trim to rectify the gross edges of the nosings. We'd determined prior to visiting Home Depot that we needed 1.5" wide trim, so all we needed to do was cut it to length, pre-nail some finishing nails, apply some construction adhesive to the back, and nail it into place. Which gave us this:
Next it was on to applying the paper. This wasn't difficult, although hindsight is 20/20 and having done it once if I were to do it again I'd take a lot more care in applying the paper. Just make sure there's no holes, it's well adhered to the tread, and it's as smooth as you can get it. We followed the basic instructions given by Rachael of Lovely Crafty Home. All this step required was to rip the dry sheathing into chunks the night before (really helpful on stairs where you don't want to be hauling a big bolt of paper up and down), and to mix a 3 to 1 solution of water to white glue in the big bucket.
Lovely Crafty Home guide states that the stain never really absorbs into the paper, however I think we used a different paper than she did- our stain dried. We ended up putting two coats on our paper to get the depth of colour we wanted. Once dry we decided to camouflage the areas that weren't accepting stain by stippling on some Raw Umber Folkart acrylic paint (procured from Michaels). At first I was really worried- it seemed incredibly obvious to me. However once it'd dried it was already blending together well, and the poly removed the only thing you could notice: the different sheen.
Poly was the final step for the treads! So simple a child could do it- simply stir up the poly, and paint a thin coat on the treads and around the nosings. Once again working every second stair if you need to get up or down them, however the MinWax Oil-Modified Waterbased Poly we used has a drying time of 2 hours- and they really are completely dry once that's up. So if you can lock yourself out of your upper floor for two hours, save the time and poly every stair! We did 3 coats before starting in on painting the stringers, risers, and installing the baseboards- but I'm slowly working up to putting 12 coats of poly on in total. At the time of writing this, I'm halfway there at 6.
I was finally done! Here's a few pictures of the finished product:
Pretty big improvement- don't you think?! Everyone whose walked into the house since the update has been floored (pun completely intended!) by the transformation. And for a little over 200$ and a can of paint? Not half bad if I do say so myself!
I hope I've inspired you to try a creative solution to something in your house that's bugging you. And if anyone has any questions about the process or wants more information- please don't hesitate to ask in the comments! I'm more than willing to help!