The Staircase Situation: Craftsman-Style Balusters & Reveal

The day is here when I can finally announce to the world: I am FINISHED with our stairway project! The last 10% of this project took up about 90% of the total project time, it seemed…but I digress.

When we moved into our house, this is what our stair railing looked like. It was perfectly functional and very sturdy.

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But we all know that I “can’t leave well enough alone,” so it’s no surprise that we ripped down the railings and spindles last month.

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Then we started to rebuild. First, I used MDF to build craftsman-style newel posts around the existing newel posts. Here’s that post for ya.

DIY Newel Post 1

Ta-da!

DIY Newel Post 2

I stained the handrails using General Finishes Java Gel Stain and Kenny helped me reinstall them. That was a dramatic morning that I don’t ever need to relive.

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Then it was time to add in the new balusters. We used about 50 of these from Home Depot for $4.97 each (ouch!). However, since I can’t do anything the easy way, I chose to do a design like this (favorite staircase ever! that wallpaper!). Have I ever installed a stairway railing before? No. But why not go big right out of the gate? HA. I’ll never learn.

You can see in the picture above that I already used a few balusters to line the bottom of the handrail. Next I had to install the baluster running parallel to that. I would imagine that it was probably pretty comical to be able to have seen my try to install the first one on my own…it was quite something. I needed about 6 arms.

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You can see above that I used two pieces of scrap baluster to help me get the spacing just right (and found this website to be very helpful to initially figure out spacing).

After a while I got into a rhythm. I think it took me about 4 evenings total to install the balusters.

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One of my biggest concerns with this project was getting the railing sturdy enough. Well, I worried for naught–these railings are going nowhere!

Once I finished installing the balusters, the torture began: filling nail holes, sanding, and painting. I rather dislike DIY projects that offer little immediate gratification….and this phase was terrible in that regard. But I kept doing a little every evening and finally–a month after we began? we can say that we’re finally finished!

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I actually didn’t intend to end at the top with a full length vertical baluster, but I must have miscounted when I did my initial calculations. Oops! Thankfully it looks okay this way too!

Also, in retrospect, I wish I would have sprayed the balusters instead of brush painting them–some brush marks are definitely visible when you look up close. Hindsight is 20:20. But I’m proud of this project nonetheless. And we can just chalk the mistakes up to “character.” ;)

I love the look of the crisp white against the dark stain.

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I’d love to get rid of the carpet and replace and stain the wood treads (and an awesome runner!), but that’s a slippery slope. But we’ll definitely get there someday.

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Total budget for this project was about $350, $250 of which was the cost of the balusters. The wood trim around the newel posts was also shockingly expensive (to me, anyway)–maybe $25 for that? Good thing I like the end results so much!

One last before/after for your pinning pleasure (#subtlety):

DIY Stair Railing Makeover

I have very fond memories of my dad building the staircase in our house growing up (completely from scratch!) and I even used his DIY newel posts as inspiration. And then I remember my mom reading aloud to us “after” bedtime while we would sit on those stairs in our pajamas. Exciting to think what memories Kenny and I will create around these stairs!

Do you have any special stairway stories? I’d love to hear!

TDC Before and After

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