Getting ready to stain some stairs!

cyndoFebruary 20, 2011

I'm ready! I'm going to get started while my husband is out of town so that I/he won't be in the way. I'll be using "his" basement stairs for practice before I do the main staircase upstairs.

It's a very nice custom built old fashioned looking staircase that is much fancier than it needs to be, going into a basement, but he wanted it so he got it. It has white oak treads and spruce risers which were to be painted white, but I've changed my mind about that after seeing all the black heel marks that have accumulated during this past year while the stairs have been sitting there unfinished.

They were supposedly ready to stain when we first got them installed, but unfortunately they now have dirt and wallboard dust on them in addition to the heel marks. Any ideas about the starting point in sandpaper grit needed to remove this hopefully superficial stuff? Is 80 grit a good starting point? Would I then use 110 or so to smooth it out or is there an intermediate step?

My goal is to get these stairs looking as good as possible and finish it with something that will look good as it wears, or is easy to keep up with a little periodic maintenance as opposed to a big re-do. I'm planning to use old age as my excuse to not do a big re-do the next time around. I guess that's what carpet is for!

Also my husband prefers the look of lighter wood on the treads even though he runs up and down them about 20 times a day with dirty feet most of the time. If I make them look beautiful maybe he'll start wiping his feet first, hahaha! Should I use polyurethane, or tung oil, or what?

I definitely want to do the banister and the huge and fancy newel post in a darker shade. The spindles are white. Is it okay to mix the colors this way? I can't imagine using polyurethane on the banister and newel post. What to people do for those? We are definitely going for an old-fashioned esthetic. Any thoughts on any of these issues would be greatly appreciated.

In the meantime I'll be sanding away....

Here's a picture that has the upstairs staircase in the background. Sorry the newel post isn't visible.

In case that didn't work, here's the URL of the picture:

and the blog post that contains the picture:

Here is a link that might be useful: Flooring Progress

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