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staining stairs, how difficult is it

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  • May 24th, 2019 9:47 pm
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[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 5, 2009
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Newmarket

staining stairs, how difficult is it

Has anyone stained their stairs? I am getting quotes which are more than I wanted to spend, so am wondering if others have done it themselves (yes I have watched youtube). I have two sets, one closed raiser, one open, new stairs so the sanding should be minimal, and want to match it to my hardwood floors ( http://toscaflooring.com/enginnered_flo ... _LSWB.html ), stairs are red oak, floors white oak.

Not looking for perfection but reasonable results. Please share your experiences, thanks.
18 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
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West GTA
Your stairs will never match your floors perfectly because they are two different species. The reason why it costs so much is because it's a very manual, laborious process - takes forever to sand them down and have to basically do it all by hand. You can definitely do it yourself, with some serious elbow grease involved.
Member
Feb 8, 2017
451 posts
249 upvotes
restaining stairs is not difficult. it's tedious but not difficult. we had carpet on our stairs so had to fill in all the holes left from the carpet tack strips. but other than that it was pretty straight forward - sand down old varnish and stain, fill in any holes/gouges and send those, then apply new stain (a few coats) then varnish. not an exact match to the floors but close enough that you have to look pretty close to tell.
Jr. Member
Feb 5, 2019
174 posts
154 upvotes
Removing the previous finish is a very laborious task. If you have an oscillating and random orbital sander and block sanding sponges, you can attempt to try it yourself and stain a small portion of it. The staining component is not difficult, just be ready to have plenty of rags or towels to remove excess stains.

What I would highly recommend is buy some test pieces of red oak and experiment with the stain as it can fluctuate from one brand to another (Sherwin Williams vs Benjamin Moore vs Minwax etc).
Jr. Member
Apr 13, 2016
160 posts
28 upvotes
Thinking of doing the same thing.
How do I get up to my bedroom at night?
Maybe stain every second step one day, and the others the next day?
Sr. Member
Aug 18, 2014
602 posts
380 upvotes
Markham, ON
I would compare staining 1 flight on stair similar to painting about 1500sqft of wall in terms of time and effort.
That's assuming the wood is completely bare and no clear coat/sanding needed.

If you have to sand and strip the finish, that would more than double the work and mess. (i.e. think of instead of just painting the wall, you need to mud, tape and sand it as well)

And just like painting, it is not difficult if you aren't looking for really good result. It is very time consuming tho unless you don't mind it looking like a complete mess.
Jr. Member
Feb 5, 2019
174 posts
154 upvotes
MichaelR901173 wrote: Thinking of doing the same thing.
How do I get up to my bedroom at night?
Maybe stain every second step one day, and the others the next day?
I highly advise against doing it in sections. Start your stain in the morning and leave your windows open/bathroom fan running to ventilate. You do not want to be in the house while it is drying as there are solvents in the stain and is harmful when inhaled.

When you return at the end of the day, you can walk on the stairs with socks on (avoid sweaty feet from touching the newly stained surface). Repeat if you feel the stain is not dark enough. Apply 2 to 3 coats of polyurethane top coat and allow to fully cure.

**** Dispose of your oily rags properly. Open them up, do not scrunch them up as it can potentially combust due to heat build up. ****
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Aug 2, 2010
15193 posts
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Here 'n There
It's not hard, just takes time. Save your $ and DIY. I would definitely stain it all the same day to ensure consistency of degree of stain and hence colour.
Jr. Member
Mar 1, 2016
195 posts
118 upvotes
As others have said, it isn’t difficult, but very labour intensive. Red oak is an open-grained wood so you will need to go over each step with wood filler (the flooring type) to fill the grains or it will look very rough. This adds another step of sanding before you can stain. When applying poly you’ll want to have the a/c off and windows closed to limit air movement or you’ll end up with a bumpy finish from dust settling on the floor. Good suggestion before to get some scrap wood to practice on. Good luck.
Sr. Member
Aug 18, 2014
602 posts
380 upvotes
Markham, ON
BigDurian wrote: As others have said, it isn’t difficult, but very labour intensive. Red oak is an open-grained wood so you will need to go over each step with wood filler (the flooring type) to fill the grains or it will look very rough. This adds another step of sanding before you can stain. When applying poly you’ll want to have the a/c off and windows closed to limit air movement or you’ll end up with a bumpy finish from dust settling on the floor. Good suggestion before to get some scrap wood to practice on. Good luck.
ughh...no..please dont' do that
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 5, 2009
2808 posts
928 upvotes
Newmarket
Thanks everyone for replies.
GTArenovate wrote: Removing the previous finish is a very laborious task. If you have an oscillating and random orbital sander and block sanding sponges, you can attempt to try it yourself and stain a small portion of it. The staining component is not difficult, just be ready to have plenty of rags or towels to remove excess stains.

What I would highly recommend is buy some test pieces of red oak and experiment with the stain as it can fluctuate from one brand to another (Sherwin Williams vs Benjamin Moore vs Minwax etc).
The stairs are unfinished (installed brand new), that should make sanding much easier.
I can get scraps from the installer for testing.
pinkdonut wrote: I would compare staining 1 flight on stair similar to painting about 1500sqft of wall in terms of time and effort.
That's assuming the wood is completely bare and no clear coat/sanding needed.

If you have to sand and strip the finish, that would more than double the work and mess. (i.e. think of instead of just painting the wall, you need to mud, tape and sand it as well)

And just like painting, it is not difficult if you aren't looking for really good result. It is very time consuming tho unless you don't mind it looking like a complete mess.
Yes the wood is bare, I am pretty good with painting and know what’s involved, for the stairs I definitely want to avoid the mess, not necessarily looking for perfection but it needs to be done to an acceptable level. Don’t want to mess it up and pay double for fixing my mistakes.

I will give it a shot.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9676 posts
5061 upvotes
Paris
Homerhomer wrote: I will give it a shot.
Get some test pieces to try it out on and dont cheap out on your top coats of poly or whatever you use. More poly=less problems.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 5, 2009
2808 posts
928 upvotes
Newmarket
BigDurian wrote: Red oak is an open-grained wood so you will need to go over each step with wood filler (the flooring type) to fill the grains or it will look very rough.
pinkdonut wrote: ughh...no..please dont' do that
My understanding was that I would wipe the wood with wet cloth so it opens up the pores and absorbs the stain better, if there is an argument to do something else I am all ears.
Jerico wrote: Get some test pieces to try it out on and dont cheap out on your top coats of poly or whatever you use. More poly=less problems.
Plan on getting good quality stain and poly.
Thanks
Sr. Member
Aug 18, 2014
602 posts
380 upvotes
Markham, ON
Homerhomer wrote: My understanding was that I would wipe the wood with wet cloth so it opens up the pores and absorbs the stain better, if there is an argument to do something else I am all ears.



Plan on getting good quality stain and poly.
Thanks
Wetting the wood is not for the pores open up and absorbs the stain.

When oak get moisture the wood fiber tends to raise up and you get that "spikey" texture on it.
e.g. if you use a water based stain w/o wetting the wood first, the texture will get very spikey, and you can't sand it smooth now because you will also sand down the colors.
So that's why ppl wet the wood, let the fiber raise up first, and then sand it smooth. This way you won't get the fiber raising up again when you put the water based stain on (at least not as much)

Or you can avoid all that and just use oil based stain, which wouldn't cause the fiber to raise up.

Either way is fine, but you definitely don't want to use a putty to fill every grains texture on the wood....it won't be even and it will take you months to fill every grain on every piece of wood..
Member
Jul 19, 2007
394 posts
87 upvotes
Markham
It's a tough job even for a hard worker and a good contractor. I witnessed the entire project when I hired a contractor do the job for 4 full days straight on my 16 step oak staircase. I replaced the pickets from wood to wrought-iron. End was pretty good and it was money well worth. It even got to a point where I was gonna tell him enough sanding LOL.
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Last edited by resan on May 23rd, 2019 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2011
1004 posts
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Toronto
resan wrote: It's a tough job even for a hard worker and a good contractor. I witnessed the entire project when I hired a contractor do the job for 4 full days straight on my 16 step oak staircase. I replaced the pickets from wood to wrought-iron. End was pretty good and it was money well worth. It even got to a point where I was gonna tell him enough sanding LOL.
How much did this job cost you?
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9676 posts
5061 upvotes
Paris
Homerhomer wrote: My understanding was that I would wipe the wood with wet cloth so it opens up the pores and absorbs the stain better, if there is an argument to do something else I am all ears.
Wood conditioner, not water. Water makes a mess.
Member
Jul 19, 2007
394 posts
87 upvotes
Markham
tonershop wrote: How much did this job cost you?
It was around $4000. The price was good because I also got other renovation such as hardwood in my family room and laminate upstairs. So all in was around 10k. I must say that the stairs job made this deal really good imo.
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2011
1004 posts
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Toronto
resan wrote: It was around $4000. The price was good because I also got other renovation such as hardwood in my family room and laminate upstairs. So all in was around 10k. I must say that the stairs job made this deal really good imo.
Yea $4000 is a pretty good price if it includes the wrought iron balusters. I did the stairs myself and the wrought iron balusters already cost $1200. I have 80 balusters - a combination of the "S" being most expensive at $20/pc. The other pieces are $15 and $10.75. I replaced the treads with 2" purpleheart wood and plexiglass riser for that open concept look.

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