Refinishing Pine Stairs

Refinishing pine stairs might at first seem difficult, especially when individual steps are intricately designed with hard to reach crevasses, corners, or molding. But ask any professional refinisher and he or she will tell you that the best approach to refinishing pine stairs is one step at a time. Literally. That's because attempting to finish such a large-scale project in one session is one way to guarantee drips, spots, or worse, sags.

The Importance of Sanding

So how do you prevent these eyesores? Well, when you're refinishing pine stairs, you've got to make sure that you've sanded the stairway so that it looks good in a well-lit room and feels smooth from all angles. This part of the process will help you discover things like scratches, bumps, or dents that you might have missed while sanding.

Depending on the color of the pine that you're refinishing, it can be rather easy or extremely difficult to detect those things. But once you begin to finish them with a stain, opaque, or even clear finish, things like scratches, bumps, or dents will show and stick out like a sore thumb.

Get Your Hands Involved

That's why while refinishing pine stairs, it's imperative that you use your hands as well as your eyes to find them. Gently running your hands or fingers over the sanded wood will reveal the imperfections that you can't see. Known as the "sand and finger" technique, this process will ensure that your stairway surface is truly smooth.

In addition to the "sand and finger" technique, you can slightly dampen the wood that you're working with in an effort to bring out scratches or dents. This is a tricky technique because damping wood will raise its grains and you'll need to sand them back down as part of the refinishing pine stairs process.

Stubborn Scratches and Cracks

Should you discover a scratch or crack that simply won't "sand" away, you can fill it in with prepared filler. Refinishing pine stairs with wood filler depends on the depth of the scratches or cracks that you find, so you may end up using a filler that you can brush on, or a filler that you can press on to conceal them.

For slight scratches or cracks, a brush on filler is appropriate and you can simply apply it (with a dry clean paintbrush for example) across the grain of the wood. Allow it to flatten naturally, wipe off any excess (again, across the grain), and then sand the area again when dry.

For deeper scratches or cracks, you can use a press-on filler. Using a knife, tightly press the filler into whatever scratch or crack that you're working with, round the top of the filler, and then sand the top of it down to the level of the wood once it dries.

Dealing With Intricate Molding

Successfully refinishing pine stairs that have carvings on them requires a smoothly sanded surface as well, but because of their molding, it can be quite difficult. Using either the "sand and finger" technique or a dampened cloth wiped across the wood's surface, you can find cracks or scratches and remove them not with sandpaper, but with a flexible wire brush instead.

Rounding Corners

Refinishing pine stairs corners can be difficult to sand too, but this feat is best accomplished by using a "softening" technique. "Softening" is a technique applied to sharp, right angle corners and it involves bringing these corners to a rounded edge. A corner left "un-rounded" is a corner whose finish will sag away and eventually wear off as if it had not been finished at all! To successfully round a corner, simply sand it with fine sandpaper wrapped under a padded block.

Using these techniques will give you the confidence you need to accomplish a nice stain, opaque, or clear stairway finish.

See Also:

Refinishing Parquet Floors