X-post Flooring. How to disinfect oak treads?

2ajsmamaSeptember 30, 2009

I had originally finished my oak stair treads with Tried and True Wood Finish - a mix of BLO and beeswax. Looks good on baseboards and casings, but the treads weren't holding up to traffic (even with no shoes in house). I haven't recoated them since I planned on refinishing them.

Last night DS threw up on the stairs, I wiped up with dry followed by wet paper towels. Now I have additional questions. Never got an answer on Flooring to my original post anyway.

1. How do I disinfect the wood b/c we are still walking on this and I don't want to spread germs all over the house? I also don't want bacteria to start growing in the grain. I wiped it down with mineral spirits this AM, think that will kill everything?

2. How long should I let this go (raised grain on one step) before I refinish? It doesn't smell bad, but I don't want to seal anything yucky (or moisture) in.

3. My original questions were how to prep these for refinishing - wipe with mineral spirits, sand, tack, then should I seal with dewaxed shellac to make sure if there's any wax left it won't cause problems? Also, looking for recommendations for finish - I thought about Waterlox but don't know about smell and drying time since we are living in the house and I'm lucky if I can get 8 hours with no traffic on the stairs. Getting to the time of year when ventilation (without heating the great outdoors) is a problem. What about Zar Floor poly? According to the can, it dries faster than the (non-super fast) Fast Drying Minwax poly that I could buy (apparently Minwax SuperFast Drying can't be sold here any more b/c of VOC laws).


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"How do I disinfect the wood b/c we are still walking on this and I don't want to spread germs all over the house?"

There is no way to do more than clean and disinfect the surface.

Wood is pretty inhospitable to bacteria and viruses.
It is used for utensils, cutting boards, and bowls.

"How long should I let this go (raised grain on one step) before I refinish? It doesn't smell bad, but I don't want to seal anything yucky (or moisture) in."

Until all the raised grain goes away. If it was cleaned up promptly the moisture will not have penetrated very deep and should leave pretty quickly, especially with heating season starting.

If you used wax and BLO you are going to need to seal before refinishing.

Shellac is good.

If you do one step at a time you can step over the refinished step until it is dry.

Doing it just before bed is probably the best option.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 10:05AM
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Thanks - but I need to refinish *all* the steps eventually. Do you think it's best to try to do them one step at a time (no railing on the bottom 3 so it's hard for the kids, I might have to just do all 3 at once and keep them off a few days - like at grandma's for the weekend)? Or try to do all 13 just before we leave for vacation (and have packed, have the luggage downstairs)?

Any recommendations on something I could put on a couple of coats in a few hours and walk on that night (or a day later if we send the kids to grandma's), then sand and do the final coat just before vacation so it has a week to dry?

I would have to do the final coat on however many stairs in just a couple of hours b/c we have a noon flight.

I can still feel the grain raised a little, of course I can sand it but is this w/e too soon to shellac and maybe even finish that one (or all 3 bottom steps)? My mom is taking the kids Sat night anyway, DH and I can sleep on the sofa bed that night.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 1:12PM
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Just a couple of things to note

-- an oil finish provides minimal protection. It scores 0 on a scale of moisture sealing. A wax finish is described as the closest thing to no finish there is.

- vomit is water-based, so mineral spirits is going to do little to remove it. The chemistry just doesn't work. I'd hit it with some detergent and water (such as Dawn).

- if you need to do the steps, do alternate steps and let them dry while you use the others. Then come back and do the missed steps. Repeat as needed to get coverage.

- I'd go with a professional quality floor varnish. Read this as avoid anything with "Minwax" on the label. Just because it says, "Great for Floors" doesn't mean it is. For faster drying and less fumes, you could use a water-borne floor varnish. I'd prefer that to a consumer grade varnish that you can buy at a grocery store.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 5:51PM
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Thanks - I think I got all the vomit off, the mineral spirits was to kill bacteria? Or I guess bleach (but didn't want to *really* raise the grain, I don't use chlorine bleach so I'd have to buy some). I'll wash it with some soapy water tomorrow. Yuck, at this point we've been walking on it a few days, I feel like I should steam clean all the carpet and tile and wash the sheets too.

I still think I'll do all the lower steps while the kids are out of the house more than 24 hours. Then alternate the others.

What do you recommend for a floor varnish? We have a good paint store (carries BM, Sikkens, Old Masters, etc.) fairly close. Shellac first?


    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 9:21PM
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Duh - I have denatured alcohol. *That* should kill anything w/o raising the grain. So, recommendations for a varnish? I'd like to buy it today so I can get some treads done tomorrow. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 7:43AM
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