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Old 03-16-2012, 08:40 PM   #1
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


The new basement remodel is making the staircase to the first floor look pretty beat up. It's pine so there are lots of nicks, the screws are showing and the sheetrock dust is a bit embedded. New stairs aren't in the budget so I thought I'd try to sand and stain.

What's the best way to cover the screws? Is sanding the best for the dents? I've had poor luck getting wood putty to stain well in the past. Is there a better product?

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Old 03-16-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Without a picture it's hard to say becuse we can not see just how bad they are.
Not sure why screws were used unless these where just constrution treads.
I'd remove them, counter sink the holes, reinsert the screws and use pine tapered plugs.
Any type of filler will show so live with the dents or try and sand out any of the smaller ones.
Really spend some time trying to clean up the treads before doing any sanding. Sanding will grind in any dirt left on the treads.
Pine will need a preconditioner before any staining to get an even finish. I also would use gel stain not liquid to even it out better.

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Old 03-17-2012, 08:12 AM   #3
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


What finish is, or was, on the stairs now and what is the final look you are hoping to achieve given the damage? Are you willing to strip off the existing finish (will go fast with an infrared stripper) or were you planning to go over what is there and try to blend with a gel stain or something? Other than drywall dust crushed into the grain, is the color of the pine fairly consistent or is it discolored?

Not sure I would agree you have to disassemble to set the screw heads but you will probably have to see if you can at least get them down under the surface. Hard to tell without seeing them. Certainly would look nicer to reset them with room for plugs on top though.

I cannot imagine someone would not have already countersunk them on stair treads but who knows. If you stain, I would buy a colored wood putty and not try to stain a neutral one.

Anyhow, if you are willing to strip the stairs and they are not so badly stained there is hope they will look nice for your efforts? I would clean them as best you can. Then hit them with a coat of shellac with no need to be especially neat about it.

The shellac is sticky enough it should attach to at least a good portion of what got crammed down into the grain. Once dry, strip the shellac and existing finish off the stairs at the same time. Sand like you would any refinishing project.

Apply a pre-conditioner to seal any open grain and to be safe I guess. Then stain. Apply the colored wood putty to the screw heads if you did not go the plug route.

Apply a couple coats of urethane reinforced poly. I would use gloss for the first coat and satin for the second. I might be tempted to put some anti-slip agent in a final extra coat for the treads. Or buy some non-slip treads and apply once the urethane has cured.

If stripping and re-staining the stairs is not going yield spectacular results, and the best you can hope for is poly over streaky stained or discolored pine? I still patch and sand them. I would then pick a nice color of urethane reinforced floor paint and handle refinishing the stairs with it.
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Old 03-17-2012, 02:35 PM   #4
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Thanks for the helpful feedback, Joe and SDS. I'm going to try to add a couple photos, but haven't done that for a while and hope it'll work.

I just want it to blend in with current stain, which is Early American I'm pretty sure and hope I don't have to do every step, but worst.
Thanks esp for note about sanding grinding in the dirt. I would have thought it would help get rid of it, so I'll clean much better as a result of comments.

As for goal, I just want it to look a bit less damaged. It's another thing that will prob need to be replaced eventually, but will be $$ so I want to wait.
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Patching and sanding pine stairs-house2-003.jpg   Patching and sanding pine stairs-house2-004.jpg  

Last edited by canoes; 03-17-2012 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 03-17-2012, 05:57 PM   #5
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Well your challenge is going to be how dark to stain them to blend all going on together. I fear things may end up darker than you want. I think I would get a little can or two of gel stain and try it. You don't have to strip everything with a gel. I think you might be happier with painted stairs blended to the colors of your basement renovation. Unless it is woody and rustic.

Last edited by user1007; 03-17-2012 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:26 AM   #6
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Thanks, sd. I'll try gel stain. The upstairs is a bit rustic with beams and pine cabinets and the stairs are open up there.

On those screws, do I just try to remove them, put them in deeper and then cover with caps which I then stain? Keep in mind, I'm a woman who only does a few DIY projects, though with this house I've learned to do more and the more basic the explanation the better. .
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Quote:
Originally Posted by canoes View Post
Thanks, sd. I'll try gel stain. The upstairs is a bit rustic with beams and pine cabinets and the stairs are open up there.

On those screws, do I just try to remove them, put them in deeper and then cover with caps which I then stain? Keep in mind, I'm a woman who only does a few DIY projects, though with this house I've learned to do more and the more basic the explanation the better. .
As Joecaption mentioned what would have been nice and provided the most finished look would have been to set the screw heads far enough down to cut out holes for plugs to go in over them.

Alternatively, when the steps were installed, someone should have "countersunk" the holes so the triangular part of the screw head would sink below the surface.

The problem now is you have too large a hole where the screw is to use a combination pilot hole and countersink bit and you will never be able to hold a plug cutting bit in place either. So what you need to get is something like this dedicated countersink bit in the appropriate size for your screws.


If you can drive the screws under the surface without removing them, and given you are going to replace the treads at some point, try that first. If it doesn't work, pull them out and use a bit like that shown to provide a recess for the screw heads. Put the screws back in and they will now be below the surface. I would not use plugs since your situation is temporary but you can and they come in sizes to fit the cone shaped recesses you cut. Glue them in place and sand them down flush to the surface.

Stain everything. Use a putty colored close to the stain you chose to fill in over the screw heads if you did not use plugs. Sand everything with 120 grit one last time. Apply your poly coats and non slip treads or material if needed.

Last edited by user1007; 03-18-2012 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Added Picture
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Old 03-18-2012, 03:56 PM   #8
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Patching and sanding pine stairs


Thanks for the very helpful info.

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