How to Stain A Softwood Staircase
How to Stain AStaircase
Staining a staircase opens up lots of exciting possibilities and has many advantages -stain is easier to apply than paint and allows the grain and texture of the wood to show through. Dark stains can be used for a traditional look while lighter stains offer a more contemporary feel. Before staining, it is essential that the surface of the wood receives adequate preparation so that it is entirely free from paint, dust and dirt that will otherwise spoil the overall effect.
For successful staining all traces of the old finish must be removed, as any spots of paint left behind will prevent the stain from soaking into the wood. A staircase with no previous finish is easier to stain and much of the preparatory work can be foregone – a light sanding is often enough.
With staining and varnishing products, always work in a well ventilated area, and keep young children and anyone suffering from breathing conditions tram the work area.
Tools for the Job
- thick protective gloves
- paint scraper
- shave hook
- electric sanders
- dust mask
- nail punch & hammer
- vacuum & dusting brush
- tack cloth
- lint free cloth
- latex gloves
1. Starting from the top of the staircase, apply paint stripper with an old paintbrush, working it into all the crevices. Leave it on for the period recommended by the manufacturer before scraping off. More than one application may be required for thick or stubborn paint.
Paint strippers are highly irritating to the skin — wear thick household gloves when applying and stripping.
2. Another method is to use a hot air gun. Hold the gun about 200mm (8in) away from the surface until the paint just starts to bubble up, then scrape away the paint while it is still soft. A sharp triangular shave hook can be useful for getting into awkward corners. Do not hold a hot air gun in one place for too long or you risk scorching the paintwork.
3. An old sharp kitchen knife is ideal for getting paint out of the corners where treads and risers meet. Use a wide paint scraper on flat areas such as strings, treads and risers.
Preparing the Surface
1. Sand up every part of the stairs to remove any final traces of paint, wearing a dust mask. An electric sander, whilst not essential, makes fast work on flat areas.
2. Once the stairs have been given a thorough sanding down, it is time to make any necessary repairs to the wood surface. Punch in any protrudingand fill holes with wood . If the holes are small, use a filler that is suitable for staining. Not all are suitable, so check the instructions. On larger holes in a piece of timber to match the surrounding wood.
Tips of the trade
It is best to employ car body tiller when filling holes and cracks. I he two-part mix is easy to use and sets very hard in a short period. It is also entirely compatible with oil-based stains.
3. Vacuum up all the loose dust and dirt. Use a dusting brush just ahead of the vacuum nozzle to dislodge all dirt and sanding debris from corners and crevices.
4. For final preparation wipe over the surface with a tack cloth. Refold the cloth often to expose a fresh surface. Discard and use a fresh cloth when it becomes badly soiled.
The variety of abrasive papers available in your local DIY store can be quite confusing. Products vary in both cost and performance and the least expensive product is often not the most economic. When selecting the appropriate product, check the back of the packet to find the project for which the material is best suited.
- Unfinished wood – For rubbing down woodwork you can use regular glass paper or the better alternative which includes aluminium oxide. Although this product is twice as expensive, it will last at least three times longer thus being cheaper in the long run.
- Finished wood – Waterproof silicone carbide paper has a black appearance and is ideal for rubbing down previously painted or varnished surfaces – it is often sold as wet or dry paper. When lubricated with water silicone carbide paper will not clog in the way a dry paper may.
1. Apply the stain with a lint free cloth wearing latex gloves. Use long, gentle strokes and try not to scrub at the surface. Avoid going over and over the same section – you can always apply a second coat for denser colour.
2 .Apply a coat ofto seal the surface of each coat of stain once it dries. Check to make sure that the type of is compatible with the stain (see below). Apply another coat of stain and , then lightly rub down with some fine abrasive paper, before brushing on a final coat.
Tips of the trade
Never use a damp cloth instead of a tack cloth as it will alter the surface by raising the grain of the wood. This will prevent the stain from being properly absorbed into the wood.
Selecting Stains and Varnishes
An oil-based varnish can be used on top of either an oil- or water-based stain. Acrylic varnish will not dry if used over oil-based stain. Avoid using high gloss or waxed finishes on stairs because they are slippery underfoot.