Sometimes a lot of elbow grease and very little in the way of supplies can have a huge impact. In this case, I’m talking about refinishing staircase banisters. This was something that I tackled early on because the honey oak colour was not my style.
My neighbour refinished her banister and this gave me the confidence to try it myself. This was a lot of work (especially since we have two staircases) and it’s messy but it was worth the effort!
I used leftover paint as a primer on the spindles followed by a topcoat of the leftover kitchen cabinet paint.
I chose a very dark, almost black stain for the railing. There’s a Canadian company, Saman, that I like to use because the stain is water based and it had the topcoat mixed into the product.
This photo is from when we first moved in and before any of my painting & moulding projects.
Here it is after using a stripper to remove the varnish followed by sanding. This is an important step because without the necessary preparation and removal of the varnish, the stain won’t go on the wood evenly.
This is the finished banister.
This is how the staircase that leads to the basement looked when we first moved in. Here I started by painting the walls a lighter colour and then we added a large, statement light fixture.
This is the view from the basement.
The view from upstairs.
The finished banister.
If you look through previous posts there are lots of other photos that show the finished banister from other angles.
Today I’ve got a tutorial and reveal of the completed board & batten wall, created in collaboration with The Home Depot Canada. Since I’m usually learning as I go, The Home Depot staff are who I rely on to answer questions and give advice for whatever project I’m working on.
These are the steps that I followed. It’s important to measure, plan, keep lines level and plumb, nail into studs when possible and when in doubt – ask for advice!
Removing the baseboard was my first step because it was thin and wouldn’t look right with the pine boards. I used a flathead screwdriver to pry it off and it came off much easier than I expected.
Next, I marked all of the studs and finalized the placement of my vertical boards. These boards I had cut to length at The Home Depot Canada. Since I live close to the store I planned to start with only these 1″ x 4″ Pine Select boards and then return to have the horizontal pieces cut. When choosing boards make sure to get ones that are straight. If you don’t know how to check, just ask for assistance. If the boards are warped it makes it more challenging to attach them to the wall.
I used 1 1/2″ spiral finishing nails which were recommended to me since they have more grip than a regular finishing nail. For some boards that don’t stay on the wall flush, I used a few dots of Construction Adhesive to make sure they held.
The next step was to take the measurements between the boards before heading back to get the horizontal pieces cut. The policy is us that you pay after the first two cuts but if you visit when it’s not too busy the staff usually go above and beyond. Having a sketch helps to remember which pieces go where and what lengths are required.
When I got home I started figuring out spacing on the wall. I did have to adjust a couple of boards with my hand saw because I had taken the wrong measurement.
I started with the top pieces and made sure they were in a level line. It turns out that our basement height is quite uneven so to create a level line across the top I left a gap (which will later be covered with moulding). These smaller pieces are held up with 2 -3 nails. Along the bottom edge, I wanted to make sure that in the future if we were going to replace the flooring it would be possible to easily remove the bottom boards.
Painting the bottom pieces before adding them to the wall would have made it much easier. To save yourself some hassle, paint them first!
Where the boards intersected I used a wood filler and sanded once it was dry.
When it comes time to paint, if you’re using a product that has a primer built in you can paint directly onto the wood. Along all of the edges where the boards meet the wall, I ran a strip of caulking along it. I have a caulking gun and have found it to very worthwhile to have. It allows you to purchase tubes of caulking or construction adhesive which are easier to apply than little containers that you squeeze out.
After final sanding, painting and caulking.
This reveal wasn’t about changing everything in the room. The paint colour stayed the same but now the basement has a feature and interest that it didn’t have before.
Thank you to The Home Depot Canada for helping make this vision a reality! If you have an idea of a project but don’t know where to start they are a wonderful resource of information and guidance.
Here’s a little reminder of where it started and some of the steps along the way.
Since moving into our home two years ago I have been on a mission to update, improve and add character to this builder basic home. The main entry and staircase are a focal point that I wanted to emphasize with moulding. I am so excited to be partnering with Metrie to use their beautiful mouldings to add the style and substance to our home.
I chose this chair rail for its thick profile and rounded shape that would work with the rest of the home. I had been searching for the moulding to use below the chair rail for quite some time then I came across panel mouding from Metrie’s French Curves Collection. It has lines that coordinated well with the chair rail I had selected.
I started out by painting the walls and doors as well as refinishing the banister railing to get the other main elements in the room ready. Since I knew that I wanted a chair rail, I went ahead and painted the wall white, using painter’s tape to make a clean line on the lower portion of the wall. Going up the staircase I used the shadow that was cast by the railing to get an idea of the angle and adjusted it from there. Painting gave me an instant visual for how the walls would look with the moulding.
The installation of the chair rail has been a huge learning curve. When I started out, I had no idea about the angles so I bought a very basic mitre box, hand saw and nail setter. Thinking about how wood panelling would have been installed by carpenters before power tools gave me the confidence to ease into the project with limited hand tools.
These are the tools that I used to install the chair rail. If I had known how much I would use my mitre box and saw, I would have bought a slightly better quality one. This one works fine but there are others available for not too much more.
Here’s a look at how the front entry is looking so far. The moulding makes the space seem larger in this tight space.
Working through the main entrance was pretty easy once I got the hang of understanding how to cut the angles. What I didn’t consider was how angles would get a bit trickier on walls that aren’t square and staircases that have complicated angles.
Here’s a look at the upstairs hallway where I’m continuing the moulding for a cohesive look.
I’ve begun cutting the panel moulding and I’m in the process of creating jigs to assemble the frames before attaching them to the wall. For this part and the complex angles on the stairs, I am using books for guidance and technical advice.
Once I start to get the frames cut and up on the wall, I’ll make a tutorial showing more of the steps. What I’ve learned so far is that installing interior mouldings is much easier than I thought it would be when you’re sticking to rooms with square corners. Installing a chair rail in a powder room or hallway could easily be done with a hand saw if you don’t have a mitre saw.
Here’s a look at the shiplap wall that my friend Kate and I installed in my living room. Since we won’t be knocking down this wall that separates the kitchen I decided to make it an accent instead. Originally I had wanted to do a brick veneer but the cost was 10 times more than going the wood plank route. This was the wall before. The wood planks were cut at the hardware store from a larger sheet of plywood. Around the top edge I wanted crown moulding and since I do not have the tools to cut it I used these pre-fabricated corners. It was tricky for us to install this part.
What I didn’t expect was how the ceilings would appear so much taller with the moulding.
Since I like neat and tidy edges I added corner guards where the panelling edges meet because this wall is exposed from all four sides.
The tutorial that I followed for this wall was from The House of Smiths. These are my process photos but for lots of information I suggest going to the original post from The House of Smiths.This was an inexpensive project that adds lots of character to the space. It is relatively easy if you have a blank wall without many outlets or vents and requires very few tools to complete.
Here are some photos of the backsplash installation. This part dramatically changed the feeling of the space.
Here you can see a little look at the honey coloured wood that used to be here.
I added some wood corner pieces on the corners of the walls to conceal the tile edge as well as crown moulding along the top of valance. It took me several weeks to complete all of my finishing touches when the tiling itself was only 5 hours when done by someone we hired. I like learning and every time it gets a bit easier to install moulding and other architectural details.
It looks like a different kitchen and it still has the same elements, just a lot has been added to embellish and customize it.
This is my latest piece of furniture that I’ve refinished. After doing the last dining room table I think that I was so happy with the results that I chose to forget how much sanding and time had been involved. I think that for people who see the potential in secondhand objects it can be hard to pass up a project. When I saw this French Provincial style dining table with queen anne legs and a pretty scalloped top I had to restore it!
This is a more process oriented post than normal because I documented all of the steps it took to get to the finished product. Hopefully all of this trial and error will help someone about to start a refinishing project or in the midst of one.
This is what I learned along the way…
This is the before and while the shape was beautiful, the scratches, worn edges and finish needed some work. What I didn’t expect was that this top would be very hard to sand down evenly and the staining process gave me more trouble that it ever has before.After using a stripper (which did nothing) and sanding there were uneven patches.
I tried the darkest stain I had to try to balance out the uneven colour with a red cherry stain I already had.
Then I applied a light grey stain but this colour wasn’t the look I was going for.
I ended up having to buy another stain, a dark grey which is pictured above. I also used chalk paint in graphite as a base layer for the bottom.This is it after a couple coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in white. After all of the trouble with the stain not working how I wanted, the paint was so easy and enjoyable to do. I distressed the base with some sanding and then added a coat of light grey stain and sealed it with a matte varnish.Since this table was going up for sale after being completed I took some photos for fun. I keep saying that this is the last time I’ll refinish furniture that isn’t for our house but I think that if I come across the right piece I’ll do it again.
Farmhouse tables with light wood and trestle or pedestal bases are my favourite style for dining and I was determined to make it work in our small kitchen and on a small budget. Many tables in the market aren’t narrow enough to fit our space so when I came across this one at a thrift store I knew it would work after a major refinishing job.
It took hours and hours of scraping and sanding until I was able to get it right down to the wood so that I could stain it a light driftwood grey.
For the pedestals I took an electric sander to get rid of all that varnish and gloss to reveal the solid wood below. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to furniture refinishing in our house because I’d rather get the job done and I know that it’s going to be subject to heavy use and abuse.
The next step is going to be constructing a banquette to go along wall which is why having a pedestal base was important to make it easy to get around the table.
It’s amazing how quickly and inexpensive it is to transform something with paint. This was a makeover I gave our front door, garage & post with these three small cans of paint.
We have a semi detached home and I wanted our garage door to match with our neighbours so I did a colour match and then painted fake windows along the top. I love the look of windows on garages and since we weren’t going to be replacing ours this did the trick by masking off the lines with tape and using paint from the front door.
This was a really straightforward and inexpensive project that gave the impact I was looking for and worked with what we already had – except for the paint.
When looking for chairs in our kitchen I wanted something second hand, good quality and durable. Knowing that I would paint the chairs made it easier to find four that were similar but different and could be unified once unified in the same colour.
Here are our kitchen chairs painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite. I was lucky to find them on Kijiji from Cindy who paints a lot of furniture herself and had already done the work in collecting them.
After over a year the paint has held up well with only a tiny worn spots where the chair hits the table when it’s pushed in.