How to Sand, Stain & Paint Stairs Treads: DIY Staircase Makeover

In modern homes, most of the people opt for redecorating their rooms every few years. So the staircases are left alone and mistreated for a long period of time. Good looking stairs transform the whole vibe and look of your house without a doubt.

Even though stairs provide a visual connection between people’s eyes and your taste in design, over time stair treads get gradually damaged, scratched. So maybe it’s time for you to give your staircase a step up in the right direction.  And now that you have an objective you may be wondering where to start.

This is where this guide comes in. Give it a thorough read and you’ll learn how to sand stairs treads, how to sand, paint or stain stairs, along with all the other must-know traits that will help you refurbish your staircase in no time.

how to Sand Stairs Treads

Things you will need along the way

  1. Sandpaper (with different grits)
  2. Wood cleaner
  3. Sponge
  4. Masking tape
  5. Brush for painting
  6. Suitable hammer
  7. Mask
  8. Goggles
  9. Masking paper
  10. Heat gun
  11. Methylene chloride
  12. Peel away
  13. Orbital sander.

The steps you have to follow are listed below

11 Steps to Sand Stairs Treads, Stain or Paint: Complete Guide:

1. Inspecting previous paint job

Before sanding stair treads you need to strip off all the old paint from before. Without stripping all the previous paintwork you cant start your primary work. The answer to the question of how to remove paint from stairs depends on the type of paint that we are trying to remove, how old the paint job is, and finally how many layers of paint there is.

If the number of the paint layer is less, the stripping becomes easy. With a low number of layers of paint, we can simply use a heat gun to scrape all the previous paint off from the stair treads. But be careful, you are not to use a heat gun if the paint is lead-based, Cause it will result in long time harm to your health.

2. Removing the paint

Removing Paint Stairs Treads paint stripperAfter inspection, if the number of layers is found to be high then you’ll want a stripper to do the job. There are many methylene chloride-based strippers available on the market today. You’ll want to apply a layer of the stripper and it’ll usually strip one layer of paint off.

If you find this process to be too time-consuming, you can also use lye-based peel away. You have to paint it on the stair treads like regular paint and cover it with the wax paper which comes with the peel away. Then you have to sit and wait for it to do its magic. It may take up to 24 hours or so. After that, you can pull the wax paper away and the paint will come off with it.

Iye based peel aways is great when it comes to removing lead-based paint because it easily bonds with the lead and prevents it from harming our body.

If you want to know how to remove paint from wood stair railings then you must follow the same procedure of removing paint from the treads

3. Cleaning the surface of the tread

Cleaning surface of tread wood cleaner

After removing the paint you will want to clean any leftover dirt from the stair treads. You may use an ordinary sponge and any commercially available wood cleaner in this case. Apply the wood cleaner and using the sponge, rub from top to bottom to clean away all the dirty bits.

Try not to use an overwhelming amount of wood cleaner, as it may result in saturated wet wood which is bad for sanding. After the application of wood cleaner, be sure to rinse it with water and then dry it off with a clean piece of cloth.

4. Checking for pop up nails

In some cases, part of nails that are used on the treads may seem protruded. Carefully check if there is any. Using another piece of nail placed on top of the previous one, you can hammer carefully until you can’t feel it protruded anymore.

This step is really important to follow because protruded nails may harm the orbital sander or your hand while sanding the stair treads.

5. Sanding the treads with Orbital SanderSanding the treads with Orbital Sander

Before you start sanding put on your safety goggles and your face mask. This will help you by protecting your lungs and your eyes from all the dust created when sanding. Now attach a 100- grit sandpaper to the stair treads. Try to go for a sander with a vacuum dust suction bag to minimize the dust produced from the sanding. If the available orbital sander doesn’t have that then be extra careful with your goggles and mask.

Now start sanding all the stair treads properly with the 100 grit sandpaper. After you’re done sanding, switch the used sandpaper with a bigger girt one like 150 – and sand all the stair treads all over again.

If you find any kind of rough scratch marks, use a 220- grit sandpaper to remove that. Be careful not to over-sand the treads as it may cause damage and make the surface uneven, which is really hard to fix.

Must Read: How to Sand Spindle of Stairs Treads

6. 2nd time cleaning

Before doing any more work to the stair treads, you have to clean it for the second time. Initially, it is advised to blow or all the dust. Then sponge the treads with wood cleaner exactly like the last time and rinse it off with water. Don’t forget to wipe away excess water and keep the treads dry.

7. Masking the surface [with musking tape]

Masking the surface masking tape

After sanding you should use masking tape on the edge of the wall. You must also cover all the riser surfaces with masking tape to prevent stains from touching any surface other than the treads.

8. Applying stains on the newly sanded treads

Try to start from the very top stair treads to prevent unwanted footsteps. You will have to put a thin layer of stain on the topmost stair treads. After applying the stain spread it as even as possible with a brush. When you’re done with the topmost treads gradually work your way down.

Applying stains on sanded treads

Wait for a minimum of two hours after the stain is applied. After that go up again and repeat the process two or three more times for a perfect finish to your newly sanded stair treads. After applying the last layer of stains let it dry for a long period of time. Read Also: How to Get a Glass Like Finish on Wood

9. Finishing up the Stain

apply polyurethane stair threads

To finish up your whole sanding tread process, remove all the masking tape from the stair treads. You can also apply polyurethane to cure the treads also. But do remember that it takes anywhere from 6 to 10 hours for the polyurethane to completely dry. Until it dries completely it is highly advised to use the stairs as less as possible.

10. Painting the Stair Treads

Painting stair treadsWhether you want to paint or stain your stair treads is totally up to your taste. The good news is, both of them look amazing if done well.

Whether you just want to paint the riser only or paint the stair treads only or do both is up to you as well. If you consider painting your stair treads, it is advised not to apply stain beforehand. Well, it’s possible to paint a stained stair treads also but considering how much extra work it takes you’re better off with painting raw wood after sending.

First, use masking tape to tape all around the edges so that any accidental paint will not fall on the wall. After properly masking it apply a coating of paint with a brush evenly from side to side long strokes. Keep doing it until you cover the whole stair tread. Then come down and start on the next one.

11. Finishing up the paint job:

It’s advised to apply multiple layers of paint coating for a rich, refined look and to increase the longevity of the paint. After the final coating, leave the stairs uninterrupted for about 18 to 24 hours. You can remove the tapes from the wall after this time period.

As for the choice of paint, we recommend that you go for a paint with a high sheen. This will result in a glossy finish to your paint job and you’ll be able to clean the surface quite easily in the future.

The paint job is a tricky time-consuming task, but it is not expensive. Properly painting stair treads gives you spectacular results at the end which makes all the hard work worth it.

Final Words:

There’s a popular saying that goes like, “you don’t get a second chance to make your first impression”. And the first impression your home will make on someone depends greatly on your staircase. Even though it is arguably one of the most used surfaces in your home, it’s often neglected. But don’t worry anymore because if you can just follow the steps you’ll be amazed at how simple the work will get. And you’ll be able to give your stairs a completely new look.

So step up and give your stair treads the care they deserve. If you have any more tips on how to sand stairs treads be sure to comment down below.

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