rough wood painted over

scibidrMay 14, 2014

The finished side of our main stairway stringer is prominently on view and doesn't look very good. (See photo.) While the upper portion of the stringer appears unaffected, the lower portion looks like it may have set in water, which would have swelled the grain. It looks like the assembly was installed with this defect and was painted as is. We are speculating about the cause, but feel it unlikely that the stairs would have shipped with such a rough piece of wood.

These stairs are part of a newly constructed custom home, designed by an architect based on our concepts and floor plan, and having a number of high-end fittings. We are currently discussing the situation with our builder.

We have two questions:

(1) Are we being overly picky by asking the builder to correct this defect?

(2) What would be the best way to fix the problem? We are not sure that simply sanding and repainting would yield an acceptable result.

We would be greatful for guidance from anyone who has delt with a similar situation. Many thanks in advance for this help.

- scibidr

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When they were installing the stairs and cut the decorative stringer, the saw blade may have chipped out some small pieces. I don't think this has anything to do with moisture exposure. It should be a quick fix: fill the chips with filler, sand the area, and repaint. It does not look like a major flaw to me.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:57AM
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The chips at the end don't bother us so much. I think filler, sanding and paint would do the trick there. It is the coarseness of the finish along the full length of the bottom of the board. I think the photo doesn't do it justice. I will adjust the lighting and take another photo.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Here is a better photo. The rough wood is mainly along the bottom and extends the length of the steps. Perhaps if this were a rustic home or a very old residence, it might be appropriate. I was expecting better attention to finish on a brand new fully custom home. I just want to be sure I am reasonable in pressing the builder to refinish this. Your opinions are valued.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Ok...I agree that that is unacceptable. I can't be sure whether that is a really bad paint job or a rough finish on the surface of the wood from inadequate planing at the mill, or both. However, it's reasonable to expect this to be fixed. Because of the construction of the stairs, it would be complicated to replace that board. Careful power sanding with a finish sander and a proper repainting should make this disappear. Good luck. Let us know how this turns out, please.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:35AM
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Fori is not pleased

Yeah that needs fixing.

Maybe you have a really nice one outside on the deck and they accidentally swapped them :P

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Is it only at that riser or for the full length of the stringer?
My impression from your photo is that this is the full exposed face of the stringer. It's a fair amount of work to sand smooth and refinish, but I think he owes you the look of a nice piece of smooth finished wood.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 11:06AM
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It runs the full length of the stairs. It is mainly along the bottom. I think the prefabricated stairs assembly spent some time sitting in a puddle. The bottom would have gotten wet and swelled the grain. That would explain why only the bottom edge is affected. I have seen this kind of thing before.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 2:12PM
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I have saw wood grain swell when painted with water based paint such as Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Alkyd Enamel.

The water = moister = wood grain swelling.

Best fixes I have found are

1. Use a GOOD power planer such as a Dewalt D26677K (for example only) to plan the wood.

2. Use a good quality hand planer.

3. DA Sander with different grit disc from course to fine or extra fine.

All three will remove the raised grain and provide a smooth finish for sealing (not priming) and repainting.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 12:13AM
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