Brownstone Boys: Our Stoop Makeover Is Nearly Complete

Our painted stairs are shining on the fall morning. We matched the color stair to the paint covering our brownstone

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 84th installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary about renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

Our stoop makeover has begun and we are already seeing some new life to our old stairs and railing. The paint was peeling off the railing and rust was showing through. Our stairs were chipping and cracks could be seen in the layer below. We needed to not only make everything look a lot better but also protect for decades to come.

brownstone stoop

The tedious process of blow torching iron railing. This allows a smooth coat of primer before painting the iron black

The first thing we did was strip the many layers of peeling paint off the iron railing. This was done with a blowtorch and a lot of patience, slowly and meticulously heating and scraping the paint until the bare iron could be seen. After it was completely cleaned we painted with a primer that would protect it from rusting. The final step was to apply two layers of glossy black paint to keep the water sliding off without penetrating the barrier. It looks clean and fresh with many of the ornate details more visible after all of those messy layers of paint were removed.

brownstone stoop

Priming the railing was therapeutic and a nice way to enjoy a warm-ish fall day

Next the stairs and stoop got the rest of the attention. Here is where we had a hard decision to make. We could either repair and paint our stoop or we could redo the entire brownstone to bring back the definition in some of the design. Our house is painted brownstone, and we are still coming off a major renovation, so although it was a hard decision we decided to just repair and paint our stoop for now. We’ll leave the full brownstone repair — possibly for the entire house — for another day.

brownstone stoop

We are ready to install our new newel post but we’re missing the top floret. We searched a local iron yard for the missing piece with no luck

We chipped off the top layer of painted cement, which wasn’t the hardest task since it was already crumbling away. Then a fresh layer of cement was spread on to seal the cracks and make our stairs attractive and safe again. Two layers of textured paint was applied to form a non slip surface to protect the stairs for years to come.

Under the stoop we needed some serious repairs as well. The 130 bricks that support the steps, as well as everyone who walks up them, needed repointing. We also had some chipping and cracking cement on the walls and ceiling of the entrance area under the stoop. Some repointing and a fresh layer of cement was applied to make the area safer, sealed up, and look much better. We’re now even dreaming of a bike storage area under the stoop!

brownstone stoop

During our stoop makeover we hosted Drag Queen Story Hour for the kids (and big kids) on the block. It was so nice to see the stoop shine

The last step yet to come is the installation of our replacement newel post that was stolen right after we bought the place. We hope to have it in, with pictures to prove it, within a few days.

[Photos by Brownstone Boys unless noted otherwise]

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