I am one of those “defiant” pet owners who always allows my dogs to sleep in my bed if they desire to do so. But since I’ve always owned large dogs (until now), I usually didn’t need any stairs for them to be able to get up in the bed. That changed when my sweet Ginger got to be around 14 years old and could no longer jump up to steal her favorite spot…my pillow.
I got her as a puppy, and we’d been “fighting” over my pillow pretty much since the day I got her. I couldn’t lift her up when she became too old to get up there herself, and I wasn’t about to miss the fun of our daily fight for pillow possession. Thus it was time for doggy stairs so my old Diva could continue to take her favorite spot.
Now, even though I was going to make sure Ginger could still get on the bed, I refused to buy those over-priced (in my opinion) pet stairs that I may or may not need again with future pets. I settled for this set of inexpensive-yet-attractive stairs made of lightweight, collapsible plastic with a faux sheepskin cover.
That was all well and good for a few days, and they even held up under her considerable weight. What I didn’t take into account was my own graceful coordination (or lack thereof!). I tripped over them one day and broke the bottom step. Since they could no longer safely support Ginger’s weight, I needed to come up with another solution that would be strong enough to last for however long she needed. My indestructible solution? Cinder blocks!
Oh, they might be the cause of a few stubbed toes, but I was going to make sure Ginger had a safe (and cheap!) way to get up on that bed, one way or another. It was actually a really simple (and cheap!) answer that served my sweet diva well until she died. Since Ginger was my only pet when I first got them set up and it was clear she wouldn’t need them very long, I didn’t bother improving their appearance.
Then Louie showed up in our lives one day.
He was a rescue that I couldn’t say no to, and Ginger was able to enjoy getting to know her “brother” for a few months before she passed away. However, as you can see for yourselves, Louie is definitely not a big dog. My short-legged chiweenie clearly needed assistance getting up on the bed himself, so I knew those doggy stairs weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
But ugly cinder blocks in my bedroom forever? I think not, so it’s time for some upcycling. I keep running across articles and blog posts about how to improve the appearance of cinder blocks used in gardening and landscaping outdoors, and they are so easy to paint. A little paint sure does make a big difference!
So…follow the few simple steps below, and you will soon see some pretty stairs that can blend well into any décor while offering a safe way for your pet to steal your pillow each night – ha!
Step #1 – Go to your local hardware store or garden center and buy three cinder blocks. These are truly very inexpensive and are easily found for $1-$2 each. I got mine for $1.50 a piece at Home Depot, so for less than $5, I had the foundation of my heavy-duty steps.
Step #2 – Choose your paint (and paintbrush). When it comes to paint choices for my DIY projects, I first check whatever paint supplies I have on hand. I routinely look for clearance paint at Walmart and Home Depot, and pick up quarts of different colors for next to nothing. For this project, I happened to have a beautiful burgundy color that matched one of the accent colors of my bedspread.
Step #3 – Get non-slip matting. Since I have hardwood floors, I definitely needed to protect them from the rough texture of cinder blocks, and non-slip matting (a.k.a. non-slip shelf liner) is both cheap and practical. I pick it up at the Dollar Tree for a dollar a roll and just cut it to fit however needed.
Step #4 – Paint the cinder blocks. You can do this indoors or out, but I usually do this kind of painting inside so I don’t wind up with extra “decorations” from the wind blowing things onto the painted surfaces while they are drying. As you can see, I use inexpensive blue tarps to protect the flooring and surrounding furniture from any accidental drips or flings of paint. (I can be a tad bit messy when painting and have learned it is much better to be safe than sorry!)
Depending on the paint you choose, the paintbrush and method you use, and how thorough you are, you may need two or three coats of paint to make sure the coverage is complete. This particular project took two coats of burgundy paint to cover the gray cement adequately.
Option #1: When upcycling or creating home décor, I like to leave myself easy options to change it up whenever I get tired of something and want different colors, etc. This time, I will eventually use a sponge-painting technique to add a layer of gold-colored paint when I get tired of the simple burgundy. I did that to the underside of one of the blocks just to give an idea of what it will look like when I decide to change things up later on.
Option #2: Adding glitter is another one of my favorite quick changes to anything! I just might be accused of loving glitter too much, so I try not to over-do it. However, it definitely gives me a pick-me-up to see glitter anything, and as you can see from the pictures, it will give these pet stairs some “bling” when the time is right! But until then, I shall just flip the block glitter-side down.
It is super easy to do…all you need is white school glue and some glitter. Simply “paint” the surface with the glue, and sprinkle glitter on it. The glue quickly dries clear, and ta-da! You’ve added some bling to your stairs!
Step #5 – Set your cinder block steps in place and enjoy! (By the way, these steps are a perfect storage spot if you are living in a small space…I like to keep my exercise hand weights in the cubby holes along with my tennis shoes. If you’re not conserving space, these spots are great for knick-knacks or low-light plants that are “pet friendly”.)
As you can see, my handsome Louie is quite happy to use the stairs to reach the bed, and I am just as happy to share my pillow with him!