Refinishing a staircase

patmc102August 22, 2011

Is it possible to sand down a staircase and put a darker stain on it. I have a light oak staircase and am going to pull up my carpet in the upstairs and put down engineered flooring that will be darker. The staircase has spindles and plywood risers. I am going to put carpet just on the risers but I want to stain the wood spindles etc on the staircase. My neighbor told me just to replace the staircase but there is nothing structure wise wrong with it . Just the wrong color. Opinions please.

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Your friend probably recommended just replacing the railings due to the fact that it would be the bane of a refinishers existance to do them, and would charge accordingly. lol It would be a toss up as to which would be most cost effective.

In this case, it would be a perfect application to use an aerosol toner to darken your spindles. Cost effective, fairly easy to produce good results on small, individual, surfaces, and followed with a decent semi-poly, would be very elegant and enduring.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 8:21PM
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I would agree. Sanding is a poor way to remove an old finish unless you are taking off a lot of wood such as floor refinish. On a stairway, it would be a double nightmare. Stripping with a chemical stripper would be a lot of work to do in place and due to the detail, very time consuming.

Aerosol toners are good with two cautions:
- They are generally lacquer-based that can be too strong for some existing finishes. Testing in an obscure spot is required.
- They can go from not quite there to way too much color and opacity in a flash. Practice and use many light coats rather than one heavy one.

Here is a link that might be useful: a bit about toners

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 8:16PM
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I went to two Mohawk classes or schools. First I went to finish repair and then I went to leather repair. There's a slight learning curve to toners, but everytime I try to convey information, I am second guessed by people who are more knowledgeable than I. I can see the first poster has never used toner by their description. But no matter. Her knowledge is superior.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:08PM
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Bob makes some good points. The wood should be thoroughly cleaned and prep sanded (a 240 to 360 should work), then test in an obscure area and allowed to dry thoroughly. The drying agents in the toner can, on some finishes, produce an "orange peel" bubbling affect that requires a full sand down. Especially when oils are present.

If aresol toner poses a problem, Watco products might be a good alternative. It's not too difficult to get even results (although build-up in the turnings of spindles can be difficult to overcome), and the drying time might be a bit long between coats (a good 24 hours in most climates), but can be used as a toning agent. Apply thinly, and in multiple coats.

As to Someone2010's remark... someone's having a very bad night. :-) I'm still not a she and I've been using Mohawk toner since it was introduced in the early 70's, son.

I have no idea what's up with that...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 3:39AM
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From your post, you don't know how to apply toner. On the other hand, I am probably wrong and so to anyone who feels Mikk's advice is correct, then do it her way. I have posted my work four times, some with my picture alongside my work. Other than that, I'm done. I'll leave further advice to you experts.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:15PM
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"From your post, you don't know how to apply toner."

Toner is at least as much about technique as material.

There is no single "toner,", but multiple things that can be used to achieve the effect.

Classically toner was a tinted clear finish applied after the initial coloring and sealing of the wood.

'Toning lacquer' used to be a relatively common thing, but there are now many other ways of getting the same result.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:08AM
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