How to sand and stain stairs?


Stairs were stained, then carpeted. I pulled up the carpet and now would like to restain them. What is a good hand sander to use? I have started to scrape off old residues before attempting to sand and am finding that is a chore as well. I am a newbie to this but since having time on my hands now, I figure I could give it a go. HELP!!!!!!

  15 answers
    • Donna Donna on Apr 01, 2020

      thank you, her stairs are a little worse than mines but it is what I was hoping to find

  • Gk Gk on Apr 01, 2020

    This article recommends a hand held random orbital sander. I like the DeWalt products but have also had an old Black and Decker palm sander for years that I use all the time.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 01, 2020

    You absolutely must do more than one coat as well. Your grain will raise after the first coat and you will have to sand it down again, add a second coat, check about the grain and and spotting, then prepare yourself for a third coat.

    Water based stain dries faster but fast drying poly will have more solvents to speed dry time but less solids remaining on the surface after drying. Resulting in a less durable finish to traffic. One coat is not industry standard and will leave the finish looking thirsty. 3 coats with abrasion between each coat is what the NWFA recommends.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Apr 01, 2020

    I recommend using either a belt or random orbit sander on the broad stair components such as treads and risers, and a detail sander (also called mouse sander) for getting into the corners and for narrow stair parts.

  • This is a lot of work indeed! Good for you for tackling it. I have a Dewalt palm sander that I've loved for years and years. Get a couple different grits of sandpaper like 80, 150, and 220 or above to help get that wood in shape for staining. Do note, you'll have to sand off all of old finish and stain before staining again.

  • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Apr 01, 2020

    Any hand sander that is a comfortable weight for you would work. You will have to do some hand sanding in the crevices. Its labor intensive, but will look so nice when you are done!

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Apr 01, 2020

    Do you have hardwood all the way up after you took up the carpet. Does all the hardwood look the same? If so all you need to do is sand it with an orbital sander, stain it if desired and poly it. Start with 180 and work up to 220 grit. It's much easier if all the wood is the are in luck! If they switched to a cheaper wood(ie: pine) at any point where the rug covers the entire stair. then you will have to go to Home Depot or Lowes and get new treads(ie: OAK or whatever wood) to match the bottom stair treads. Try to refinish it the same way...sanding, staining(if desired) and poly it. Stairs can get tricky.

    • See 1 previous
    • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Apr 04, 2020

      Great will be easier to redo your stairs since you have all the same wood going all the way up. Just use that orbital sander and hand sand the sides(baseboards)....chip away at it little by little. It will take time. Wear a mask when you do it! Sanding is very hard on your lungs if you don't.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 01, 2020

    I would recommend a palm sander. They are easy to control and probably best for someone just starting out on projects. They are very versatile and you will be able to use in many projects.

  • Cindy Cindy on Apr 02, 2020

    Hi Donna. I'm Cindy. I recommend using a palm sander to sand your stairs. Since a palm sander works off electricity, you will need an outlet near by or at least an extension cord. Wipe down your stairs after sanding them. Then stain them with a color of your choice.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Apr 02, 2020

    I prefer an orbital sander instead of a palm sander. I have both....The sand paper is very easy to apply.

  • Oliva Oliva on Apr 04, 2020

    You've been given a great deal of good advice. In addition to the orbital sander and mouse sander (if needed), I'd recommend using a vacuum with hose and soft brushor crevice attachment to remove as much residual dust as possible, followed by use of "tack cloths", which will remove minute dust particles which might otherwise mar your poly finish (I always apply 3 coats, letting each dry multiple days between coats, if needed. You can apply the stain/poly to every other step, in the event you need access to this staircase, while waiting for stain/poly to dry).

  • Betsy Betsy on Apr 06, 2020

    Hi Donna: A Detail Sander is good to use to get into corners. It looks a bit like an iron, is small and gets into the tricky bits. A Palm Sander is good for the bigger areas. They aren't all that expensive and are handy to have around. I'd get an electric one so you are sure you have power to do the entire job. Sometimes the battery ones poop out an inopportune times :) Good luck