Reviving Hardwood Staircases
Reviving a staircase is easy if you take it step by step.
First, assess the state of your hardwood stairs. You or a professional floor refinisher can sand and refinish it to give it new life. Or, if there is no hope, a new hardwood staircase can be installed and stained to match the finish of your floors.
Either way, your efforts will pay off. A hardwood staircase, like hardwood flooring, adds character, beauty, and resale value to any home.
Dealing with Squeaks
If your wood stairs need a facelift, start by checking for any needed repairs. Loose or rubbing parts often cause squeaks, a common problem. Stop the squeak by nailing or screwing down a part that has separated or by inserting a wedge underneath it.
Sanding and Refinishing
Refinishing requires special equipment and a lot of patience. Floor refinishing companies typically get most of the job done in a day. If you decide to do it yourself, rent a floor edger-sanding machine.
- Run the sander over the steps. For rough or painted boards, start with 20- or 30-grit sandpaper, and then proceed with 50-grit and finally 90-grit.
- Start with 36-grit paper for varnished floors.
- Next, use a hand scraper on the spots the sander missed and, if desired, hand sand with fine paper to remove small scratches.
- Vacuum to remove the dust.
- Stain with a clear finish or one custom-blended to match your floors.
- For a final protective glaze, top that with three coats of polyurethane, which is available with a water or oil base.
Each coat of oil-based polyurethane must dry overnight. Water-based sealers usually dry within a couple of hours.
Take some precautions to avoid trouble. Sanding produces highly flammable dust, so seal the doorways into your work area with plastic and ventilate the area with a fan. Wear goggles, ear protection and a dust mask while sanding. When applying the sealer, put on goggles, rubber gloves, long pants and a long-sleeve shirt.
Keeping Stairs Like New
Once the stairs are restored, consider having a carpet company install a runner to add style and provide padding and protection. To keep stairs free of dust, wipe with a cloth or use a dust mop or hand-vacuum. One way to remove caked-on grime from a handrail is to lightly rub with very fine screen sandpaper and top with a new coat of varnish.