Home & Garden

Sand and stain staircase vs capping

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  • Oct 28th, 2021 4:06 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge

Sand and stain staircase vs capping

Looking for some pros and cons since we're thinking of redoing our main staircase.

Staircase is original builder solid wood one from 1985. Looking to get it modernized with iron pickets and espresso colour to match the floors and with the risers being painted white. Is sanding and staining the way to go with this kind of wood or can one go with capping the threads? I've been told that sanding the stairs will not fix any loud creaks that some of the steps have but that if we decide to go with capping, you can typically fix these since you'll be installing new risers as well.

Any comments/suggestions?

Thanks.
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37 replies
Penalty Box
Jun 26, 2009
5142 posts
4878 upvotes
GTA
Are the steps really that narrow? Only one picket per step? If yes, than capping is better option.
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2016
3442 posts
2219 upvotes
Mississauga
Tommy74 wrote: Are the steps really that narrow? Only one picket per step? If yes, than capping is better option.
I think the stairs are narrow at one end and wider at other, due to the spiral shape.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2010
6601 posts
6078 upvotes
If they're in good shape I would sand and stain - much cheaper and easier than capping.
Penalty Box
Jun 26, 2009
5142 posts
4878 upvotes
GTA
IndyBeak wrote: I think the stairs are narrow at one end and wider at other, due to the spiral shape.
Yes, but closer to the handrail I don't think it meets today's building code.
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2016
3442 posts
2219 upvotes
Mississauga
Tommy74 wrote: Yes, but closer to the handrail I don't think it meets today's building code.
For sure, very easy to miss a landing and take a tumble. lol.
Member
Feb 11, 2009
385 posts
130 upvotes
I did that project a few years ago... quite a painful project to do especially if you're living in the house. (Smell, Dust, Paint(cannot walk up))

-Remove the varnish
-Sand multiple grits
-apply pre-stain
-apply stain
-apply 3-4 coat of polyurethane

I looked at prices to hire a pro to do this and prices are extremely high.
~45$ per stair
~45$ per riser
X$ per linear foot for the sides and rails
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IMG_20200229_160059.jpg
IMG-20200629-WA0007.jpg
IMG-20200701-WA0004.jpg
IMG-20200702-WA0008.jpg
IMG_20210210_095636.jpg
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge
Tommy74 wrote: Are the steps really that narrow? Only one picket per step? If yes, than capping is better option.
Only as they start to curve going upwards otherwise the straight ones have two per step.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge
hierophant wrote: If they're in good shape I would sand and stain - much cheaper and easier than capping.
Is it? I would have thought that sanding and staining would be more labor intensive and hence cost more.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge
I guess the another question is whether caps look cheap or not? Our basement had it's staircase capped but the threads sort of look too "fake" but maybe that's because of the type they used. I'd like to have a more "real wood" look to them.
Last edited by lobo on Aug 10th, 2021 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
996 posts
453 upvotes
steph3n wrote: I did that project a few years ago... quite a painful project to do especially if you're living in the house. (Smell, Dust, Paint(cannot walk up))

-Remove the varnish
-Sand multiple grits
-apply pre-stain
-apply stain
-apply 3-4 coat of polyurethane

I looked at prices to hire a pro to do this and prices are extremely high.
~45$ per stair
~45$ per riser
X$ per linear foot for the sides and rails

IMG_20200215_171932.jpgIMG_20200229_160059.jpg
IMG-20200629-WA0007.jpg
IMG-20200701-WA0004.jpg
IMG-20200702-WA0008.jpg
IMG_20210210_095636.jpg
I would have just stained the wood darker, they look like they were in good condition. The white riser looks like it will chip and get dirty. Plus I like the look of wood better. But that's just me.
Deal Addict
Apr 10, 2017
2795 posts
1942 upvotes
lobo wrote: Looking for some pros and cons since we're thinking of redoing our main staircase.

Staircase is original builder solid wood one from 1985. Looking to get it modernized with iron pickets and espresso colour to match the floors and with the risers being painted white. Is sanding and staining the way to go with this kind of wood or can one go with capping the threads? I've been told that sanding the stairs will not fix any loud creaks that some of the steps have but that if we decide to go with capping, you can typically fix these since you'll be installing new risers as well.

Any comments/suggestions?

Thanks.
I personally dont like the look of iron pickets. I just chose a simple rectangular white wood picket and it made a difference from your photo. I have a modern/Scandi home renovated from top to bottom
Sr. Member
Jul 22, 2015
691 posts
253 upvotes
Ontario
steph3n wrote: I did that project a few years ago... quite a painful project to do especially if you're living in the house. (Smell, Dust, Paint(cannot walk up))

-Remove the varnish
-Sand multiple grits
-apply pre-stain
-apply stain
-apply 3-4 coat of polyurethane

I looked at prices to hire a pro to do this and prices are extremely high.
~45$ per stair
~45$ per riser
X$ per linear foot for the sides and rails

IMG_20200215_171932.jpgIMG_20200229_160059.jpg
IMG-20200629-WA0007.jpg
IMG-20200701-WA0004.jpg
IMG-20200702-WA0008.jpg
IMG_20210210_095636.jpg
Looks great! I love the look of a white riser and dark tread. Very modern.
Deal Addict
Jun 8, 2004
2030 posts
1098 upvotes
Oakville
I would sand and re-stain the treads since you already have real wood treads (aka threads as you are calling them).

Capping is needed when you have carpet-grade stairs that don't have treads that can be stained and finished nicely.

Capping won't automatically eliminate any squeaks.
Also, the cheaper capping is veneer covered particle board, unless you find more expensive, real wood retrofit treads.
Lastly, capping will change the vertical rise on the first and last step in the staircase.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge
cba123 wrote: I would sand and re-stain the treads since you already have real wood treads (aka threads as you are calling them).

Capping is needed when you have carpet-grade stairs that don't have treads that can be stained and finished nicely.

Capping won't automatically eliminate any squeaks.
Also, the cheaper capping is veneer covered particle board, unless you find more expensive, real wood retrofit treads.
Lastly, capping will change the vertical rise on the first and last step in the staircase.
LOL yeah I meant treads. Damn autocorrect.

So with sanding and staining, what's the drawback? I've heard that you can't use the staircase for a couple/few days while you wait for things to dry. Any other cons?

Regarding capping, yeah I know about the vertical rise changes. Our basement stairs were capped and noticed them after they were done but something we got accustomed to shortly after. And for sure I would opt for real wood retrofit treads if possible as one of my concerns is using cheap veneer capping.
Deal Addict
Apr 18, 2005
3526 posts
1717 upvotes
Mississauga
lobo wrote: LOL yeah I meant treads. Damn autocorrect.

So with sanding and staining, what's the drawback? I've heard that you can't use the staircase for a couple/few days while you wait for things to dry. Any other cons?

Regarding capping, yeah I know about the vertical rise changes. Our basement stairs were capped and noticed them after they were done but something we got accustomed to shortly after. And for sure I would opt for real wood retrofit treads if possible as one of my concerns is using cheap veneer capping.
Won't this be an issue when resell ?? For sure it will be pointed out during home inspection.. also probably against code as a safety issue.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
2262 posts
970 upvotes
Woodbridge
TLSRULZ wrote: Won't this be an issue when resell ?? For sure it will be pointed out during home inspection.. also probably against code as a safety issue.
No our changes were done to code so the vertical changes were within spec.
Deal Addict
Apr 18, 2005
3526 posts
1717 upvotes
Mississauga
lobo wrote: No our changes were done to code so the vertical changes were within spec.
Great...

I also have a similar circular staircase and lookin to get it restained .. so we are in the same boat. I want to get new treads as I think it will be less dusty.. and the new solid risers as existing ones is veneer.. I only got 1 quote as it was 3K for all the wood and staining of handrail, stringger and caping. The cost of the iron spindles is on top of this.
I still have to see with some other vendors .. lets keep in touch.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 3, 2011
6517 posts
3788 upvotes
Thornhill
For an older home like this it's worth the work to sand and stain. It's more appealing and natural looking than any capping which not to mention looks like a cheap option was taken on non-floating stairs.

Staining the railing to match the treads and painting the ballustrades white to match the risers instead of replacing them also is still very popular.

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