• Questions About Hardwood Stairs Treads

    Posted on July 22, 2015 by in Questions About Hardwood Flooring

    William asks…

    Are pine (not hardwood) steps okay for an interior staircase?

    I removed the old carpet from our staircase and while the steps beneath the carpet were not finished, they could be with a little work, to which I am not opposed. My husband says they cannot be finished due to the fact that they are pine and pine is too soft for such a high traffic area. He’s concerned they will dent and chip along the edges. I really want to have a wood staircase, though. I think the pine would wear just fine, especially when compared to the wear carpet would get if we re-carpet the stairs. What do you think? The house was built in 1994.

    Chris answers:

    The wood used on your staircase (pine,built 1994) was never intended to be used for anything other than support. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it will still be a pig.
    People in 100 year old homes in “historic districts” can get by with this quaint rustic look, but it doesn’t (usually) look right in today’s modern homes.
    Lowe’s and Home Depot sell oak treads (unfinished) that can be installed on your staircase if you really want a wood staircase.^

    Thomas asks…

    How do I remove the paint from interior wood stairs?

    I just bought my first home and I have a bunch of things I would like to repair or restore. (hardwood floor, faux wood paneling, etc,.)
    The treads and risers of the interior stairs are painted a hideous gray color. I want to restore the stairs back to the original stain (or close to it). The hand rail still has it’s original stain and looks quite beautiful.
    Can I used paint stripper or do I need to sand it? Also wood stairs tend to be slippery, how can I make the stairs not so slippery without using a carpet runner (my cat’s claws get caught in carpets) ?

    Chris answers:

    Knowing what I’m doing in regards to chemical strippers, heat gun paint removal, and floor sanding I have to say that the only real way to get this done is to use an edger and sand the stairs down completely.
    Paint strippers will not get all the paint out of the cracks and crevasses so you will end up sanding anyway. Same for heat guns. They get the majority off but really those two methods are meant to be used if you are going to re-paint the wood, not apply a stain and clear coat.
    You mentioned that you are wanting to re-finish the wood in the house. It would be good to have the guys refinishing do the stairs or if you are renting the equipment and doing it yourself then you’ll have the edger there. I would start with either 24 or 36 grit paper to remove the paint. If you needed 24 grit to remove the paint then continue on with 36, 60, 80 and then a hand held random orbital sander with 100 grit paper on it. If you started with 36 just continue on with the 60, etc.
    I suppose you could use a stripper or heat gun to get the majority of the paint off and then come in with an edger at the 80 grit paper and 100 grit random orbital. I would really recommend you leave that to a pro, however. Sanding floors and using a stain instead of just clear coat is an art form. If you don’t sand well enough you will leave sander marks which will jump out at you from 20 feet away once you put a stain on.
    As for the slippery finish you can use a satin polyurethane instead of semi-gloss. That will cut down on the slipperiness of the floor. There are also additives you can put into the poly. You can purchase them at a hardwood flooring store.

    Lizzie asks…

    My stairs are made out of yellow pine, can I cover these with hardwood treads or does it have to be removed?

    I recently took the old carpet off my steps and found that the risers and treads are made of yellow pine. I would like to replace the pine treads with hardwood treads that match my floors. Can I cap the pine treads with hardwood treads or do the pine treads need to be removed 1st. I figured i’d just sand and clearcoat the risers and just paint the stringers to match the baseboard molding.

    Chris answers:

    They really should be removed. Whenever you put anything on top of existing stair treads it will increase the step height at the bottom, and lessen it at the top, which COULD create a tripping hazard, depending on how thick it is. Hardwood treads run from 3/4″ to 1″ in thickness.

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