Realtor Rehab: Taking the 1980’s Out of Your Home

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Many of us live in homes that were built in the 1980’s and 1990’s and while we may have updated, if you’re like me, there may be some details you have overlooked.  I have painted until I’m blue in the face.  We have replaced flooring and appliances and decks and updated our decor, but the one thing I missed in 12 years of living in our home was the staircase.  The wood that lined the stairs was somewhere in the red oak family and screamed 1989!  Notice that past tense?

This week, after running across a photo online with a similar color and a new transformation, I hit the internet.  I ordered some black mini-wax stain, along with a few supplies and in two days, went to town!  I have stained many things, but I’ll tell you, this #RealtorRehab taught me a few lessons that I didn’t even know.  Watch how I went from Before to After in this episode of #RealtorRehab, then keep reading, because you’re going to want to know this.

Step 1 – Sanding

I took a 100 grit sanding block and gave all the wood a quick sand.  #RealtorRehab Tip: You don’t have to sand down to raw wood.  Just knock off the shine from the previous stain job. 

Step 2 – Clean, Clean Clean

After you sand, you’ll have it everywhere, so make sure you clean it all off.  I took a rag and glass cleaner and wiped every inch of the banister and hand rail.  #RealtorRehab Tip: Take a shop vac (not your good vacuum cleaner!) and vacuum all the nooks and cranies close to the actual stairs.  You don’t want any dust showing up while you’re sanding.

Step 3 – Tape

I took painters tape and wrapped it around any portion that bumps up to the banister to try to minimize paint touch up with I was finished.  #RealtorRehab Tip: tape way more area than you think you’ll need.  Inevitably my hand slips or bumps up against something and I make a mess, so I went above and beyond and as you’ll see below, that still wasn’t enough. 

Step 4 – Stain & Wipe

I used a foam brush and put the stain on just like I would if it were paint.    I took a lent free rag and wiped the stain off after each section of staining.  #RealtorRehab Tip: Make sure you get all the excess stain wiped off.  If you don’t, it will not absorb into the wood and instead of drying, it will become sticky and you’ll have to do the process all over again.  I learned the hard way 😉

#RealtorRehab Tip:  This is a messy job so make sure you have rubber gloves and mineral spirits on hand.  Even though I wore gloves, I still got some stain on my skin, so for that, just wet a paper towel with mineral spirits and wipe your skin.  It will come right off.  Just make sure you wash good with soap and water when you’re finished.


After 24 hours of drying time, I super excited to pull the tape off and reveal my new staircase…except I didn’t get what I expected.  THE STAIN BLED THROUGH THE TAPE!!  I was so annoyed.  I knew I was going to have to touch up some paint because of my carelessness, but I didn’t expect to paint where the tape was.

So, I pulled out the wall and trim paint and began the daunting task of trying  not to get paint on the new stain.  Yeah, that didn’t always work out so well.  It seemed like an endless cycle until my husband had a brilliant idea…a black marker!

#RealtorRehab Tip: If you run into a spot (or many spots) where it’s tight and you get paint on your stain, grab a marker that matches your stain choice and color over the paint.  It works like a charm and no one will ever know!  Watch >>>>>>>>>

This one day project (unless you don’t wipe the excess stain well enough, then it’s two days, LOL!) and less than $20 can make a BIG impact in your home and on potential buyers!

Want some more ideas on ways to spruce up your house?  Visit the #RealtorRehab section on our Blog! 


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