Boy, was it therapeutic to rip that up and put it out with the trash! (my husband didn't even know I was going to do this!! I did the ENTIRE project without his help!) I had pulled up a corner of the carpet before and found pine stairs underneath! Here is what you will need, and how to finish your own stairs:
An electric sander makes it so much easier. You also need a paint scraper, paint brush, crow bar, hammer, screwdriver, pliers, lots of paper towels, a metal or tin container, citristrip, and stainable wood filler if you want to fill in the nail holes. I did not fill in the nail holes-I wanted my stairs to look older and have some character.
removing the staples with screwdrivers and pliers
Using a metal container (to put the citristrip in) and rubber gloves, "paint" the stripping gel on each stair thickly. Then let sit at least 30 min. I did every other stair in this project since we still had to use the stairs! My kids got really good at skipping half the stairs. I think they thought it was fun.
Going the direction of the wood grain, scrape all the gunk off with a paint scraper and wipe the edge of the scraper off with a paper towel as you go along. You'll want to keep a whole roll of paper towels handy, and a plastic bag to throw the used paper towels in.
Wipe the stair with steel wool in the direction of the grain to continue to clean off the stair
After the stairs are completely clean, neutralize them with mineral spirits on paper towels
and let dry.
Sand in the direction of the grain
Stain following the instructions on the can. I used "dark walnut"
After the stain dries, put on a couple of coats of polyeurethane (I used oil based for extra durablity-It took a few days for the first coat to dry completely to the touch. Make sure its completely dry before putting on the second coat. Then paint the risers. (I did mine white) .....come back tomorrow and I will show photos of how beautiful the staircase looks now! Also, I want to show you what I did with the landing at the top of the stairs-I love it!