I'm finally getting ready to stain my stairs in a couple of days

by Louise
I found a fast-drying, oil-based stain (Varathane, dries in 1 hr) and now I need to find a fast-drying oil-based satin polyurethane to top it with. Any ideas about one that will dry quickly? I have a dog and 3 cats so I'm going to have to keep them off of it all during the process. AND, I think I want satin and not gloss so that the stairs won't be as slippery, but I have no experience with this. Does that make much difference? And will one coat of poly be OK?
  12 answers
  • Kathleen Mckirkle Kathleen Mckirkle on Dec 17, 2015
    Any oil based paint/polyurethane takes a long time to dry. Look for water based. It wears just as well but dries faster minus the smell too, a bonus. I used a water based poly. on a bathroom floor which I had painted then stencilled around the edges, it only took about two hours to dry completely. Windows open! You could block off the bottom of your stairs with something your pets can't negotiate for a couple of hours. Good luck, it will look amazing and practical when done.
    • Louise Louise on Dec 17, 2015
      @Kathleen Mckirkle So if I use this fast-drying oil-based STAIN, can I top it with water-based poly? Everything I've read says that water-based won't be as durable and urged oil-based for homes with animals.
  • Kimberly A Kimberly A on Dec 17, 2015
    Water based dries much faster. I have done many, many, thousands of square ft. of flooring and stairs. 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. Satin is what I use on all of my stairs as well and it doesn't show scratches in the sealant nearly as much when the dogs start running up and down the stairs. Good luck!
    • Louise Louise on Dec 17, 2015
      @Kimberly A Are you saying that 3 coats of stain are needed? I've been reading lots online about this and no where did I see that several coats are needed. Won't that change the color? AND, if the grain rises and has to be sanded down, then isn't the sanding is going to remove the color? This will take forever.
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Dec 17, 2015
    Just a thought, my brother refinished his stairs...to not make upstairs inaccessible he did every other when it came to staining a ceiling his stairs. When finished stairs were ready to use, he started on the others. At the time he had 4 kids still living at home.
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    • Louise Louise on Dec 17, 2015
      @Lagree Wyndham That would work for me, but I'd still have to keep the animals off the stairs during all that time. Keeping them off for the shortest time is my prime objective.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 17, 2015
    Search the MinWax website. This will explain all the stains and finishes that you need help with.
  • Sherry Taylor Sherry Taylor on Dec 17, 2015
    I used anoline dye you can mix the dyes with either water or alcohol.I used water ,just wipe or brush it on and let it sit until desired color is reached(mine was less than 5 minutes). Wipe it off with a dry cloth and it dries within minutes. We also used water based urethane 3 coats.With the anoline dye, just make sure to test on a scrap of wood to get the desired color.
    • Louise Louise on Dec 17, 2015
      @Sherry Taylor I've never heard of this dye. I looked it up and found some on Amazon, but do you know if it's available in stores? Where did you get yours? I love the idea of its drying so quickly. Then I'd only need to top with poly.
  • Kathleen Mckirkle Kathleen Mckirkle on Dec 17, 2015
    I had no problems Louise, I did put two coats on though. My bathroom probably wouldn't have so much traffic as your stairs would, but so long as slippers, and not outdoor shoes are worn, I cannot foresee any problems. I reckon a rule of shoes off at the door should be a rule for everyone anyway. Would we buy an expensive dress or whatever then have people walk on it with shoes? In my opinion all paint scratches with anything sharp be it oil based or not.
  • Sherry Taylor Sherry Taylor on Dec 17, 2015
    Hi Louise my father uses them in his furniture business, they come in powder form . I think he buys them online. I will see what else I can find out.
  • Sherry Taylor Sherry Taylor on Dec 17, 2015
    You can get anoline dye at Lee Valley online and in stores for both Canada and the U.S. You may have a store in your area. The dye comes in 20 colors
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Dec 19, 2015
    Varathane brand makes a poly to use with there oil base stain. I bought mine at Home Depot. I don't have any left over so I cant tell you how long it takes to dry if I remember it was like 3 or 4 hrs. I did mine a coat at a time for 3 nights . Worked for me but not sure how you would keep the Kittys corralled Just be prepared that the stairs will be slippery even with a satin finish. I did mine last winter an found out very quickly that it was dangerous for my dog ,he slipped down 3 stairs. I went out and bought 3 carpet runners and stapled them on, cutting them so seams were right under the tread at the top of the riser. Cheep [ $35:00] way to stop any chance of anyone slipping. One year later the stairs still look great. The dog is happy and so am I . Good luck
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    • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Dec 20, 2015
      @Louise I'm in Canada, you don't have the store that I bought mine at in the USA. The store I bought mine at is a chain store, a step up from a Dollar Store and a step down from Target. I think I saw some thing like mine at Walmart might be a bit more costly.. The runners I bought were $10:00 each 24" x 5 or 6 feet long. They also had large scatter mats to match for $10:00 also so I got 1 for the landing That I stapled and another to put at the bottom of the stairs. lots of places have the same kind of runners with different colours of stripes , I bought Navy Blue it shows ever speck of dust and hair but it blends in really well with the room . Oh one more hint don't buy runners with the foam kind of backing I'm afraid with lots of traffic on the stairs over time the foam might stick to the treads and that would be a major mess when you remove the runner. For the throw mat at the bottom of the stairs I bought some of the rubbery stuff they use under a rug to stop it from slipping around. I got mine at my local Dollar store. I would post a picture but I don't have any way [ old fashioned no cell phone ] Please keep me posted , if this idea works out for you and your fur babies. If you have any question please don't hesitate .
  • Em Em on Dec 19, 2015
    I just staind my stairs with Zar products 3 coats cherry stain finished with 2 coats of fast drying poly.
  • Wrenzo Thompson Wrenzo Thompson on Dec 20, 2015
    There are fast drying polyurethanes but please understand what is being compromised when the product is fast drying. The 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.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Dec 21, 2015
    I use only oil-based stain and an oil-based poly - high gloss for floors and semi-gloss for doors, frames, etc. Have not been pleased with water based. Find this not as durable. There is an additive that adds a bit of grit if you're worried about slippery. I use two coats with minimal sanding with a steel wool in between. Just wipe afterward with a tack cloth. It depends on humidity and temp as to how "fast drying" the products are. Best to keep the animals out of the way because of odours and it won't hurt them to be deprived of the stairs for a few days anyway. (Have had a variety of pets around when I do these projects.)