Staircase Makeovers: A Guide to Refinishing Stairs

Your stairs take a lot of punishment over the years. People running up and down them day after day, year after year. They get more than their fair share of wear and tear, so it’s natural they’ll need the occasional touch-up.

Odds are your stairs could use some new stair painting or something more. Refinishing stairs isn’t an easy job, but it can be done without the help of professionals. If you’re patient and follow our tips, then your stairs will look better than new in no time.

We’ve put together a guide that will help you with the project from start to finish.

What You Need for Refinishing Stairs

You’re going to need a durable sander for stair refinishing because there’s a lot of sanding as well as sandpaper of various grits. You’ll need an interior/ exterior primer, a stain of your choosing, a polyurethane clear finish and a paint for the spindles.

The color of the stain and the paint for the spindles if up to you.

Sand Everything Down

For the stairs, use a mechanical sander to remove the finish for each stairwell. Keep in mind, this is going to take a very long time. You need to get through the stain and to the naked wood.

Use the sandpaper to sand down the spindles. Be careful when doing the spindles, as there isn’t a lot of room between them, so it’s easy to bang your fingers.

Prepare for Staining

Before you get into the actual staining, you’ll want to prepare the area. Anything you want to not stain such as spindles, risers, etc. should be taped to keep them safe. Also, place a tarp at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Proper taping is important because it saves you having to come back later and repair any areas that ended up painted or stained that you didn’t want.

Stain the Stairs and Prime the Spindles

Starting at the top and working down, you’ll want to begin staining the stairs and priming the spindles and other areas you want to be painted. Depending on how porous the wood is, you’ll likely need multiple coats of both finish and primer.

Do everything, let it dry and then decide if you need another coat.

Paint and Add Clear Coat

Once the stain is to your liking and the spindles are primed, it’s time to use a clear coat and paint the spindles. You’ll also need multiple coats of the clear coat.

It protects the finish and the more coats you put on, the thicker the coating. Given the high traffic rate of stairs, you want a pretty thick coat. The spindles probably only need a couple of coats of paint since they’ve been primed. Painting stairs is also a possibility instead of staining.

Once everything is dry, remove the tape and tarps and you’re finished.

Enjoy Your New Stairs

Congratulations, refinishing stairs is off your bucket list. Your new stairs look amazing and add a whole new level of luxury to your home. You’ll be the envy of all your neighbors, and you did it all yourself.

For more information about refinishing stairs, then please visit our Kitchen Cabinet page.

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