You’ve taken mansion tours or have been in old buildings where Victorian plaster makes its mark on the walls, ceilings and staircases. There is an unmistakable elegance that ornamental plaster adds to plain surfaces. But I can bet you don’t realize just how easy it is to do. Especially when it comes to adding ornate beauty to your staircase.
There’s something mystical and majestic about a staircase. It tends to create fantasy and curiosity in us as we have an overwhelming desire to see what lies at the top of the stairs. But does your staircase lack appeal? Is it just like every other staircase in every other house you have ever been in? Create a dramatic upstairs entrance with these easy and beautiful ideas.
There are generally two areas on a staircase that lend themselves well to embellishment. These are the “L” shaped wall space where the stair riser and top meet, and in the case of un-carpeted stairs, the front of the riser board itself.
When considering the “L” wall space, new lines or ornamental plaster molds now on the market, open your options for creating dramatic staircase designs. Use them to create a romantic and ornate design at the side of each stair to create beautiful detail and add architectural interest to the stair sides.
Ornamental molds come in a variety of designs that work perfectly to create architectural interest and in many cases, extreme detail. The truly wonderful part is that each project is incredibly inexpensive.
The great thing about ornamental plaster molds is that they are re-usable. What that means is that you can make as many pieces as you wish without worrying about reproduction costs. Plaster of paris typically sells for around $7.00 for a large bag that will cast anywhere from 20-50 pieces depending on the side of the design.
Once the pieces come out of the mold and are dried, they are easy to apply to the staircase with simple joint compound. No glue required!
How to cast a mold
1. Simply turn the mold face down and make sure it is level.
2. Lightly coat the inside of the mold by brushing it with mineral oil.
3. Mix the plaster of paris per the instructions on the bag.
4. Pour the mold ½ full, then tap up and down and to bring any air bubbles away from the design surface and up to the top of the plaster.
5. Slowly fill the mold to the top. Do not over fill.
6. Allow the plaster to harden completely. If it is warm to the touch, the chemical reaction is not yet complete. Wait until it feels cold to the touch before removing the hardened plaster.
7. To release the plaster piece, turn the mold over and place on a soft surface. Gently lift one edge of the mold and begin to work the piece out.
Plaster pieces must dry completely before they can be applied to walls, ceilings or furniture. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on atmospheric conditions such as moisture in the air or cold temperatures.
To apply the plaster piece to the staircase wall area, simply spread a thin layer (about 1/8th inch thick) of pre-mixed joint compound (also called “wall mud”) over the back side of the piece, press to the area on the staircase and hold for one minute. Fill any gap between the wall and the plaster piece with joint compound on your finger. Wipe away any excess with a damp sponge and let dry.
Plaster pieces can be pre-painted if desired.
The same plaster pieces can then be used to create a circular design around your light fixture to coordinate with the staircase.
Decorating The Riser Board
There are so many ways that you can decorate your staircases. For instance, consider using a Raised Plaster Stencil or paint stencil on the riser to each stair to create visual detail. Border designs work perfectly for this application.
Rather than using plaster, Raised Plaster Stencils allow you to use standard joint compound instead of paint as the medium.
Simply tape the stencil to the riser, spread joint compound over the stencil openings, remove the stencil and allow the compound to dry. Paint as desired.
Designing your staircase can be as simple or ornate as you would like it to be. But the possibilities are endless! So don’t exclude this feature of your home when deciding your decorating plan.
© Victoria Larsen 2009. All Rights Reserved