How To Finish Wood Stairs

How to Finish Wood Stairs

In this blog, refinishing your wood stairs is an easy way to keep them looking sharp and classy. After that, choosing to refinish your wood stairs is simple, but it takes a little more knowledge to get the job done and done well.

How to Finish Unfinished Stairs

Finishing unfinished stairs can be a little tricky, but it’s certainly not impossible. The best way to do this is by using a stain or paint that is designed for the unfinished wood. If you want the look of natural wood without having the colour fade over time, then this is definitely your best bet.

Is it better to Stain or Paint Stairs?

This is a question that comes up often and there are many opinions on whether it’s better to stain or paint your stairs. The answer, however, can vary depending on several factors including the type of stair and the finish you want to achieve. If you’re refinishing your wood stairs, then it’s best to stain them. Staining your wood stairs can be a great option if you want something that looks natural and warm. But it’s not the best choice for surfaces that are exposed to lots of traffic. That’s because stains tend to wear off more quickly than paint does. Especially when they come into contact with dirt or other substances that can stain them.

Read on to learn more about refinishing your wood stairs and railings because it’s really important for both interiors and exteriors.

Materials That You Will Need to Refinish Stairs

1. Sandpaper

2. Electric Sander (optional)

3. Vacuum

4. Rag

5. Safety Mask & Goggles

6. Stain

7. Paintbrushes (2)

8. Water or Oil Based Polyurethane

How to Polish Wooden Stairs

After the materials have been gathered, you can start cleaning and polishing the stairs. This process might take a few hours, depending on how much work needs to be done. If you’re planning on refinishing wood railings as well, then this is the time to do it! Below are the steps to follow when cleaning and polishing your wooden stairs:

1. Sand the Wood Stairs

  • Firstly, if present, remove the carpet.
  • Secondly, you should finely sand the wood stairs along the edges. Not forgetting to do the top face as well. It helps the stain absorb a lot better.
  • Third, put on a face mask while sanding the staircase to protect your lungs. Wear safety goggles as well.
  • Moreover, sand in the direction of the grain using good quality sandpaper. Especially if you’re doing this by hand.
  • Once you have completed this, make sure you thoroughly vacuum any dust left behind.
Wood Staircase Painting
Staircase Painting Before and After

2. Stain the Wood Stairs

  • The colour of your wood stain will not always match the originally applied to the stairs. In other words, keep in mind that the longer it sets, the darker it will become.
  • Suppose you are using a water-based stain to refinish hardwood stairs and railings. After that, you’ll need more than one coat.
  • Use a paintbrush because it’s easy to apply the stain onto the wood stairs or use a rag and apply it that way.
  • •Work quick and be sure the stain penetrates the wood and soaks into its pores
  • Be sure to wipe it with another clean rag so there is no puddle effect of stain on the wood stairway.
  • Let dry. Therefore, apply another coat to the stained stairs in the same process if you wish the stain to be a darker colour.

3. The Trick for Staining Stairs and Railings

  • In addition, wood stairs may be good enough for some. There is an important step or trick to cover while refinishing stairs: “apply a top coat”
  • Either a water-based top coat for faster dry time or an oil-based one for better application will do.
  • Lastly, allow drying for the time intended based on the container.
Staircase Painting Before and After


Have you read it right? If not, well, you better do.

Following all the steps may look simple but it takes some time especially when you’re DOING IT YOURSELF. You have to select good quality tools and equipment for refinishing interior and exterior wood stairs in order to achieve the best output even with less knowledge. On the other hand, getting it done on the first try won’t attain as required.

Also, choosing what colour goes well for both exterior and interior painting is crucial. It is often the most difficult part, there are many shades to choose from and must be put together in the correct proportions. Thus, acquiring primary colours’ to be safe.

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In conclusion, learning how to refinish stairs when in the mood for staircase refinishing is an excellent choice for beginners who want to know how to do this project efficiently. Now you can enjoy your newly finished staircases and wood stair railings! If this is just something you don’t have time for, give Home Painters Toronto a call at 416-494-9095 or email

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