This post shares all about DIY stair tread shelves. Using stair treads as shelves is a cheap and easy idea for wooden open shelving anywhere in your home.
How to make stair tread shelves, a cheap storage solution!
Hellooooo second week of the $100 Room Challenge! If you’re just joining me, I’m tackling my tiny laundry nook and making it pretty and functional for $100 or less. You can see my first update about the space, which shares plans, budget allocations, and before and painting pics here.
And thanks to Erin at Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry for hosting this challenge again and giving us all a kick in the butt to get a space done on a tight budget!
So here’s where we left off last week. I pulled down the wire shelving, patched the drywall, and painted the walls and ceiling using Sherwin-Williams Extra White in Eggshell. I had some left over from painting our bedroom, so I decided to go with that.
Cheap open shelving idea using stair treads
This week I’m chatting about how I’m putting this space back together and making it a big more functional using some open shelving! As a reminder, we had one 6-foot wire shelf mounted in the space.
I wanted to reconfigure the shelving to maximize the storage space and also make it prettier. To do so, I mixed light pine with black shelving brackets to put up three new shelves: one 6-foot shelf at the top of the space for items we don’t use very often and then two 3-foot shelves that we can easily reach for things like detergent, extra towels, etc.
However, while I was walking through Lowe’s browsing my options, I wandered into the aisle that had unfinished pine stair treads. They were much cheaper than the pieces of pine I already had in my cart, but they looked a little rough. I took a chance on them thinking I could polish them up nicely and came home with them.
What is the difference between stair treads and stair risers?
If you’re new to stair lingo, you might be wondering what the difference is between stair treads and stair risers. Stair treads are the things that you actually put your feet on when walking on a set of stairs. They are typically thicker and often have a rounded “bullnose” front.
Stair risers are the part between the treads. Unlike the treads, which sit horizontally, risers are attached vertically. They are often a bit thinner—3/4-inch to 1-inch thick, generally—and are rectangles. They do not have rounded edges. Here’s a pic of our newly refinished stairs so you can see a closeup of each in action:
Here’s what I used—
- Stair tread, (1) unfinished 4-foot pine stair tread
- Stair riser, (1) unfinished 4-foot pine stair riser
- Whitewood board, (1) unfinished 6-foot whitewood board
- Orbital sander (I have this one)
- Minwax wood stain in Natural
- Minwax polyurethane in semigloss
- (6) Ekby brackets from Ikea, (2) large ones and (4) smaller ones
And here are the steps I took for my DIY stair tread shelves!
Step 1: Cut stair treads to size
First I cut down the two 4-foot stair treads/risers to 3 feet each. I cut about an inch off of the 6-foot whitewood board so that it would fit comfortably from wall to wall in the top of the closet.
Step 2: Sand the pieces
Since these weren’t exactly top-shelf pieces, I grabbed my orbital sander and gave each piece a good sanding. I focused a lot on the edges, too, since they were rough and splintery. This just helps the wood look a bit more polished.
Step 3: Stain and finish
After wiping the dust off of the pieces, I stained them using Minwax wood stain in Natural and Minwax polyurethane in semigloss. I was a little worried at how yellowish the stain seemed to be taking, but they ended up looking great with the black brackets and white wall!
Here are our two assistants helping out with the hanging process. So nosy!
Step 4: Mount stair tread shelves using shelving brackets
We used Ikea Ekby brackets for the shelves. These are really cheap, sturdy, and versatile shelving brackets from Ikea. They have a lot of decent shelving bracket options if these aren’t your look. These come in other colors, too—or you could easily spray paint them. I used two of the bigger brackets for the stair tread and two of the smaller ones for the stair riser since it was a bit narrower.
Here are the final DIY stair tread shelves mounted. Don’t they look awesome?! And for a fraction of the price of what we would have paid to top-shelf pine lumber or pre-made shelving. Everything is MUCH easier to reach. I’m generally keeping laundry stuff on the bottom shelf and extra towels and other linen-type stuff on the middle shelf.
And when I need something from the top shelf, which you can see in this pic, I just grab a stool. I think I’ve only had to do that like twice a year, though, since it’s mostly off-season stuff. Or stuff we need when we have house guests. The kind of stuff you don’t really want to be taking up precious storage space.
Next week I’ll be back to share another DIY to store my ironing supplies. Until then…
And here’s my to-do list with a predicted/actual budget for each:
Remove wire shelving and bring to ReStore($0) Patch drywall($0) Paint walls and ceiling($0) DIY shelving—cut, stain, finish, and mount(Actual cost: $26.69 for lumber, $27.56 for brackets)
- Iron board/iron hanger ($10)
- DIY drying rack for sweaters/delicates ($30)
- Misc room in the budget ($10)