The Basement, Part 2: Stairs

The stairs were (still are) something that I have endeavored to work on all by myself. As I might have mentioned, they were narrow, enclosed and dark. They were old, the steps themselves were very short even for my female feet, they were steep and to make them even narrower, the former owner was required to install a hand rail before he could sell the house to me, and he did.

In the picture below, a lot of “stuff” has already been torn out: walls, flooring, etc. The new lights hadn’t been put up yet. 1-800-GOT-JUNK had not yet been on the scene to get my junk, either.

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Below it’s much neater.

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And here, under the glare of the new LEDs, I have removed the boards enclosing it all and already gotten my tools together to start experimenting with the removal of steps.2017-11-06 08.44.00

It’s November 6, and here are some of my victims below.

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The newly wide-open staircase.

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Below are some bits of the wallpaper I found UNDER the stairs. See the article on “Recycling” to learn what I did with them.

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First, I measured, then I went to the closest home improvement store (no ads here), picked out the required number of steps and some really good screws….2017-11-06 16.07.24

…and had them sawn (what, speller? sawn is not a word? you’re kidding me) to size by the on-site expert. I also took home the bits he sawed off (below) since they will make great shelving one day.2017-11-06 16.07.34

In order to remove old wooden steps — if you’re a relatively weak woman like myself without many power tools — you simply need friggin’ WILLPOWER. I do have plenty of that to spare. So although it took days, I removed each step, one by one. First I would pry underneath one edge with my biggest flat screwdriver and then hammer on it a little. Once it was pried up sufficiently, I took either my little or my big or both crowbars at it. The boards were nailed on many, many, aeons ago, so the wood squealed when the rusty nails were torn out. Along the wall, of course, the steps were embedded in the plaster, so I did a lot of hammering and cursing to pare that away.

You can’t really imagine how hard the job was, believe me. Nevertheless, she persisted, and on day one managed to remove and replace (using wood glue and fancy screws) two steps. Ta-da!

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By November 7, see below, I had added one more.

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And we see three more on November 8! Due to those two posts being attached to three of the steps, I had to wait for my contractor to return and ask him to remove them for me. You will note that the new steps are a little deeper than the old, but not deep enough to trip on (so far). They are also considerably W I D E R.

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From above. 2017-11-08 18.38.492017-11-08 18.39.142017-11-15 14.52.34

My friendly neighborhood contractor was back on November 15 (this time above) ⇑, working on the drywall walls for the new bathroom. But by the 28th, he had pulled those two posts out (probably with his little finger) and I had all the steps installed and was flying (and I don’t mean tripping or falling) up and down them daily. ⇓2017-11-28 20.52.48

There was, of course, one problem. Now, look, this is never going to be a living space or a party room or a bar: it’s just a basement for Pete’s sake. So as far as I am concerned nothing has to be perfect, but this was just too ugly.

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By January, I decided it was time to get out the paintbrushes again…and my painters’ tape…

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And cover that brown and gray UP. 2018-01-08 13.13.062018-01-08 14.02.56

And just for a sake of silliness, I got some of those stickers made just for stairs and put them on, too. ⇓2018-01-19 10.04.222018-01-19 10.04.37

The steps also have a nice double coating of polyurethane.

I bought a small can of cement to fill in the holes on the left side there, but haven’t had the courage to try it yet, especially since the contractor man did it on a few and it looks awful.

Also, some timid friends who saw these pictures kept reminding me I needed a railing and although I never feel the need to hold on, I won’t be young forever. Nor do I want a lawsuit on my hands if a neighbor drops by and falls. So, I shall be putting a railing up in a few days, really, I shall.

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Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave kind critiques and comments and love notes in the space set aside for that purpose!

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