Permission Granted

About a month ago I texted my landlord about ripping up the carpet on the entry stairs and replacing it with some vinyl. It took her about a week to respond, so I figured the answer would be no as it usually is.

Quite the contrary, she texted back and said sure! Boy was I surprised. Having permission to sporadically change things in the house is very exciting.

Within half an hour of getting her text I started ripping the carpet up.


Here’s what we started with. The big rug is usually in the kitchen, but it’s been up there a while because spring tracks a lot of mud in, and it’s annoying having to vacuum the landing all the time.


We also track in a lot of pine needles which hurt like a SOB to step on when they’re stuck in the carpet.

Since I had permission from the landlord and was raring to go, I didn’t bother telling Chris before I started destroying the carpet. I was so sick of it and wasn’t going to wait any longer.


The first thing I found was the landing is made of plywood and covered in that black stuff. I think the black stuff is some sort of non-slip sand adhesive. Then I kept pulling up the carpet and got this piece of joy.


Nice pine steps and risers! Yay.

After ripping the carpet and padding off I pulled out all the tack strips and staples from the stairs. I didn’t pull all the staples from the landing because I’m going to cover it with vinyl, and the stairs will be painted and stained with General Finishes Java Gel. Instead, I pulled all the padding out that was stuck in them and hammered them down.

One issue that I ran into with the tack strips is that I don’t own a crowbar. Instead, I just used a hammer and flathead screwdriver. Just wedge the screwdriver under the strip where the nail is and use the hammer to wiggle it under further. Then use the leverage and pull up on the strip (by pushing down on the screwdriver). It’s kind of a pain in the butt on some of them, but it works.

After getting all the staples off the steps they were ready to be sanded in preparation for stain. The picture below is before sanding.


I took my Ridgid random orbital sander to the steps with an 80 grit sanding pad. Since I have an orbital sander (which is round) I couldn’t get all the way to the edges of the stairs very well which left some paint. I went back by hand to try to get as much off as I could, but it wasn’t very efficient.

The picture below is after sanding. It’s a little hard to compare because of the opposite angles, but they’re a lot cleaner with fewer paint splatters.


Next, I cleaned the steps off with a shop towel and some mineral spirits. Then I applied mineral spirits to each step right before I stained. General finishes recommends this to help the stain go on smoothly.

Make sure to apply stain to every other step so that the stairs are still usable while the stain dries (6-8 hours).
And then here’s a picture of them all stained.

After the stain was dry I taped the stairs off to paint the risers.
I also used paper so I wouldn’t get paint on the newly stained steps. As you can see in the picture, I didn’t tape off the risers when I stained. I figured it would be easy to paint over. It seemed that it actually was easier to cover the paint with gel stain than the other way around.

Before priming I sanded the risers by hand with 80 grit sandpaper.
After the first coat of primer I went back and filled in the holes with spackle. Then I sanded lightly and did another coat. I like to wait until I prime to fill in the holes because it makes them a lot more visible.
After two coats of primer I applied two coats of paint.

I also sanded and repainted the trim by the landing to make sure it looks crisp before installing the vinyl
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I’ve repainted this trim probably twice already, but it gets dingy pretty quickly and the new floor will be lower than the carpet.

Before putting in the new vinyl I also wanted to stain the threshold of the front door to match the steps.
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Since the stairs are going to be a different color than the vinyl on the landing, I wanted to make sure the entry looks as cohesive as possible.

And of course, since this will be a high traffic area I added a coat of General Finishes Gel Topcoat.

And after several days of putting it off, we finally got around to laying the vinyl on the landing! It’s really easy to do, and I was going to attempt doing it myself. Chris wanted me to wait until he would be around to help me though, which honestly was a good idea. Laying the floor and cutting the boards isn’t too bad when it’s just straight cuts, but having to work around the trim pieces was really frustrating for me. I explain in this post how we laid the floor in our bathroom, and what exactly we used if you’re interested 😀


Chris did up until this point on the landing, and I got to do the rest until the trim on the other side of the door. I didn’t get to do much cutting when we did the bathroom floor, so I’m glad I got to try it out.

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I am so obsessed with the way it turned out. The entry feels so much brighter and spacious now that the carpet is gone. And it’s going to  be way easier to keep it clean. No more lugging the vacuum all the way up the steps!

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If you like this post let me know, and feel free to pass it along!

See You Around!

Lauren ❤


13 thoughts on “Permission Granted

  1. Okay, I’ve only been able to read a handful of posts so if you’ve answered this a million times my apologies:

    You pay for these upgrades, are you somehow compensated or are you putting money into the house that eventually you leave and then the landlord sort of benefits from them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The upragades that we pay for we get approval from our landlord first and then they take it off our rent. The things we’ve paid for include painting, and a new sink in the bathroom. Most of the projects we’ve done we have gotten free materials, or I’ve had leftovers from furniture projects (like the Java gel stain). The one project I’ve paid for and didn’t get reimbursed was spray painting the counters because I figured our landlord would look at me like a crazy person for asking (It wasn’t very expensive).


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