We took the carpet off, the kids' co-op class stripped and sanded the stairs for us.
5 kids' + 2 adults' stuff (cothes, bedding, toiletries) brought downstairs to camp out in the livingroom for the weekend. Check. Wood putty stained, in, and sanded. Check. Caulked the gaps between stairs. Check. Stairs wiped down. Check. Now for the risky part - stain opened and being applied...
This is what WE do at 11pm at night when Dave is out of town. Done with stain. Poly and paint left.
We were going to sleep downstairs, but one of my BRILLIANT children (Em)
thought we could climb the ladder at midnight and slip in an open second story window. (Although in my case there was more scraping than slipping.) So that's what I did and I slept in my own bed last night. Our old dog couldn't stand it and broke through the barrier to come upstairs to sleep, but the stairs don't seem any worse for the wear.