How to Restore Wooden Steps

Written by damon koch
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Wooden stairs in a home add a certain warmth and familiarity. But when those stairs begin to look worn and old, they can detract from the overall beauty of the home. Refinishing wooden stairs can be very labour-intensive, but the results are well worth the time and effort.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane varnish
  • Paintbrush or rag

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  1. 1

    Sand the treads, risers and all the edges and corners of the steps with coarse sandpaper. Keep in mind the lower the grit number, the fewer abrasive particles per square inch it has and the more abrasive it is. Depending on the condition of the stairs, a medium-grit paper may be able to be used; otherwise, a coarse grit is recommended. Any old stain or paint should be completely sanded off so only bare wood is left.

  2. 2

    Sand the entire area of each step with a fine sandpaper (higher-grit after the steps have been sanded down to the bare wood. This will smooth out any grooves left behind by the coarser sandpaper and give a better look when finished.

  3. 3

    Wash the steps with a mild soap and water solution when all the sanding is finished and let dry for 24 hours.

  4. 4

    Apply the wood stain, being sure to cover all surfaces of the stairs. The stain can be applied with either a brush or a rag. This is purely a matter of personal preference; either way will work. The important thing is to make sure the stain completely soaks into the wood. If a darker or richer look is desired, a second coat can be added. Let dry for at least 24 hours between coats.

  5. 5

    Brush on the polyurethane varnish using even stokes. Whenever possible, go with the grain of the wood. A second and third coat may need to be applied to give the steps a durable and long-lasting finish. Let the polyurethane dry 24 hours between coats.

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