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Last Thursday, Kit and I announced our Dueling DIY challenge:  we’d both make over our staircases and see who could finish first.

Dueling DIY- Sarah vs Kit

The concept is basically to get our butts in gear and actually finish one of the many projects we both have going on at our houses thanks to a little baiting, name-calling, and competition. Saturday morning, I got this text from Kit:

Text from Kit

This is already fun.

But I had two guests over to the house again this weekend, and going up and down the stairs was kind of a necessity for them. So I’ll share more on that project later, but I figure that since I’ve already painted the stair risers and am partway to the finish line (though Kit will still likely kick my ass), taking a step back at what’s been done already is probably a good place to start. First, the stairs began as a carpet-covered mess straight out of the early 80s:

Carpeted stairs

A few of the stairs were teetering (literally) on a potentially twisted ankle or busted knee, so after removing the carpet (and inexplicably finding cigarette butts)…

Raw stairs

My ex-boyfriend and I removed a few broken stair treads. My ex’s dog, Colby, hated having to wait on this. (Why yes, those are kegs outside of the window on the front porch. Thank you for noticing.)

Colby looking up the partially demolished stairs

And I also got a peek under the stairs, which gave me my first clue that the builders of this house may not have exactly been stellar employees.

Trash under the stairs from builders

Trash under the stairs from builders

After new treads were in place, I made a few minor repairs, filled all the holes/dings from carpet removal with wood filler, and the stairs were neglected for a little while to work on other projects.

Replaced and patched treads

One random day, I simply got tired of looking at the bare wood and began priming. Then painting (and that’s when I learned the technique behind painting every other stair tread so the stairs were still usable).

Primed stairs

Once again, after thinking I was nearly finished, I walked away from the project to attend to other makeovers (ahem, working shower). And then I changed my mind and decided that white stair treads were simply too much to deal with when you have a dog marching mud in and out of the house.

Mud trekked on the stairs

So here’s what’s left on the to-do list and what I’m tackling with Kit’s Dueling DIY challenge:

Cleaning off all of the mud… again… which has already begun but it rained last night (UGH)…

Spray bottle of TSP on stairs

Touch up the spindles (I simply got too lazy halfway through finishing this project last time and need to get these bright white before moving on to the black paint)…

Missed a spot

Tackle any peeling areas with a sanding sponge and good quality primer (every beginner has a first project where they learn about peeling paint – mine just happened to be the stair railing when I first moved in)…

Peeling paint on the handrail

Paint the treads and handrails black (instead of white), and hang the handrail that was ripped out of the wall when I moved in…

Hole from ripped-out handrail

And finally, put a carpet runner up the middle of the stairs – both to protect the paint job and to give Charlie more traction when she’s making a mess. So, here’s the part where you head over to Kit’s blog to see what progress she made on her part of the challenge over the weekend. We’ll be checking in each Tuesday to see who gets to call the other a chump. And since we called out for more participants last week, feel free to share your own staircase progress. I have a few links below already for the few who mentioned they were going to take on the challenge.

Want to join in? Link up in the comments and we’ll add you to the list next week!

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  1. wow I feel like there is some definite storage space potential under those stairs. Is there anywhere to build an access?

    Looking really good so far! I agree on the white stairs being a potential nightmare

    1. On the other side (underneath the stairs), there's already a pantry. So while it looks like it's unused space, there was a little bit of utilization (that brown part straight ahead in the photo is the back of the pantry wall). There's definitely room for improvement, though. I can't imagine all the nasty stuff I might find once I get in there!

    2. That way my thought exactly! You need to use that space somehow! Even if just for storing xmas decorations!

    3. Decoration storage is a great idea. There's an air return vent on the side of the stairs that intimidates me a little because it's smack in the middle of the wall where I'd get access under those stairs. We'll see!

  2. I'm a little ashamed to say that I literally gasped when I scrolled to that picture with the TSP spray bottle. I've been mixing buckets of the stuff. Like. a. sucker. A spray bottle is totally the way to go.

  3. What a great idea to stay motivated ona project that really makes you want a beer every 30 minutes, lol! yours is looking great! go Sarah go!

    1. Thank you! Though a beer every 30 minutes sounds like an excellent reward for finishing a project!

  4. You go girl! I think you have some great plans for your staircase. BTW, has anyone ever told you and Kit that you look like you could be sisters? I think you are even similar heights ;-).

    1. Haha! We're both “vertically challenged” you mean! Sarah would definitely be the younger, prettier sister in this scenario, but I'll totally take the comparison as a compliment.

    2. Younger, yes. But prettier, my guy friends would beg to differ (they've seen your picture).

  5. I think you are awesome Sarah. School, work and mad DIY skills…..some guy doesn't know what he is missing out on. I love this challenge. I think you and Kit should make it a series. Sign me up!

    1. Thank you :)

      If this winds up spurring finished projects, I think a series would be fun!

  6. Uh, don't thing I don't know what's going on here, sister. This is the part where you lure me into a false sense of security with “oh, I can't work on my stairs right now” and then the minute I don't spend 15 hours a day sanding down my treads you're all the sudden going to be like “oh, wait a minute, I just miraculously finished my staircase overnight.

    Not falling for it.

    1. Hehe. You saw my strategy. I suppose having the risers done already puts me slightly ahead of you, but only because I actually began this project two years ago. But I can't wait to see more of yours!

  7. Hey, Sarah! Funny that a woman just subscribed to my blog today because I said “shyt” in my blog post and she was offended by that and some other things like “MF'ers,” and then I see your post and I see “shit” and you've just reaffirmed that I should be able to say whatever in the hell I want! :) (I did edit it out, but that's a whole 'nutha conversation).

    Good luck on those stairs! We also have nasty 1973 carpet going down our basement stairs, and we've been here for 2 years and have yet to touch it with a 10-foot pole. LOL. You're inspiring me to give it a whirl. However, I want to join your DIY challenge! I have resolved to FINISH what I start around my house, and I'm in the midst of finishing my crafting room (see my blog for “IN PROGRESS” pics of it. I'm taking it room-by-room and vow to finish before I start another old, ugly room :)

    Thrift Diving

    1. It's your blog. I fully respect someone's right to be offended at my language as much as I reserve the right to speak however I please. Some people won't like you for it while others will love your blog because of it. As long as you aren't offended by it I think it's fine!

  8. Muddy dogs & white treads = disaster! You have inspired me to work on my own disaster of a staircase, although it seems like I might have some catching up to do (at least beer wise that is :))
    Sign me up!