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Old 05-03-2013, 02:19 PM   #1
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


Sorry, posted this in the introductions too. Confused me. Anyway- House built in 1971. I have removed all the carpet, nails, tacks, etc. from the stairs, leaving a few minor scuffs and nail holes. I've read that some fillers won't stain...so what's the best order to do things? Would like to paint the risers a creamy/white color and stain the treads. Seems to be a soft wood, possibly fir? Here's my plan thus far:

1. sand (100, 120 grit), vacuum, tack cloth/wipe off
2. fill holes with tinted putty?
3. wood conditioner, stain (two stairs at a time since this has to be done in a certain amount of time)
4. poly, sand (220), clean, repeat x 3

Any help is appreciated! Water or oil based? Quick-dry poly? I'm newer at stains. We have four kids...lots of traffic. Poly the paint too?
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:45 PM   #2
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


Your approach seems quite reasonable. I cannot see detail of the surface. Is 100 grit doing what you need or to you need to step down to 80. Obvioiusly you do not want to use paper more coarse than needed.

Experiment staining on an inconspicuous section if trying to match your railing spindles.

You can use either an oil-based or waterbased poly. If drying time is an issue, the latter will certainly dry more quickly. If you buy quality, both should hold up to the foot traffic.

You could also consider a product like Ben Moore's porch and floor paint for the risers. Do the risers last. The oil-based floor paint is urethane reinforced and the waterbased is epoxy reinforced. Both are self priming. The waterbased would dry faster. It has a softer sheen than the oil-based though if that is an issue for you.

I've also been known to add some waterbased poly to semi-gloss paint for stairs. Mix outside the original can of paint though. You have to work fast and you cannot dwell feathering your work or you will have nothing but brush marks.

Whatever you use for your finish coats you will use nice brushes right?

Good luck. They look great so far and I know it was a fair amount of work to get them where they are.


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Old 05-04-2013, 02:31 AM   #3
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


and beware that polyd steps will be slippery as opposed to carpeted ones. I was thinking of the children
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:24 AM   #4
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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and beware that polyd steps will be slippery as opposed to carpeted ones. I was thinking of the children
For sure!

I guess I just assumed you would be adding some sort of elegant looking non-slip tread pads or some sort of antique stair runner to protect the finish. I should not have jumped to such conclusions.

And don't even think of adding anything non-slip to the finish. That stuff just tears it up in record time.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


Might be a no-brainer, just be sure the poly is spec'd for floors. Not all are, and that mistake has been made.
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


I have better luck filling nail/staple holes after staining rather than before. Even if you have a stainable filler, It won't take stain the same as the wood. For a real good match on the filler I would stain and put one coat of Polly on, sand, then fill the holes with color putty, then finish coat varnish. Minwax makes a variety of color putties.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:16 PM   #7
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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I have better luck filling nail/staple holes after staining rather than before. Even if you have a stainable filler, It won't take stain the same as the wood. For a real good match on the filler I would stain and put one coat of Polly on, sand, then fill the holes with color putty, then finish coat varnish. Minwax makes a variety of color putties.

It's also better to use a stain for which you can get a matching putty. I've had to play around blending combos of putty to match non-related stains, do-able but tedious.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:24 PM   #8
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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It's also better to use a stain for which you can get a matching putty. I've had to play around blending combos of putty to match non-related stains, do-able but tedious.
Yea, its funny also that the putty with the same name as a stain, like "early American" never seem to match the stain. Too many variables in staining wood. You just have to match it by eye.
Mixing it is messy, but not that bad. I wear neoprene gloves and just roll it around my hand. It's handy to have some white putty also, lightening it a little often helps get a good match.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:32 PM   #9
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


You mean you can get one putty to match??!!
Sometimes I have 3 different mixes of putty for one job, depending on the variance of the wood it goes on..
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:45 PM   #10
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


Oh, I hear what you're saying. But it's a far better starting point, especially for an HO, to have a putty and stain that are made by the same company. I know there are no guarantees, but I've had some success in the past with some livable matches.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:55 PM   #11
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


When I was younger I used to go nuts mixing putty to match, have like 6or8 pieces on a cardboard pallet. I limit it to 2or3 now, just takes too much time.
There hasn't been as many super high end jobs where people wanted to pay for that kind of detail around in recent years either.
Should probably say about using oil putty is that the oils can leave oily smears in your finish. It's especially problematic with latex Polly's. It might not even show up at first, I've seen it show up gradually over a year or so.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:57 PM   #12
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


I'm not a fan of painting or staining wood steps and leaving them bare, staining them and putting on a runner carpet in the middle is nice, but any kind of paint/stain is going to get real crummy looking fast due to shoes scraping and shuffling on them.
Fill the nail holes and then sand or else you'll be sanding twice. For stain I really like Minwax oil stain, and for a clear finish the water based polyurethanes have a little better rating/review than the other clear coats, and they don't fume the house (the oil stain will a little) and it dries very fast unlike varnish and regular urethanes.
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:41 PM   #13
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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When I was younger I used to go nuts mixing putty to match, have like 6or8 pieces on a cardboard pallet. I limit it to 2or3 now, just takes too much time.
There hasn't been as many super high end jobs where people wanted to pay for that kind of detail around in recent years either.
Should probably say about using oil putty is that the oils can leave oily smears in your finish. It's especially problematic with latex Polly's. It might not even show up at first, I've seen it show up gradually over a year or so.
That's why, as you said, putty after the first coat of clear. I wipe with a rag after each putty hole to pick that stuff up.
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:51 PM   #14
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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That's why, as you said, putty after the first coat of clear. I wipe with a rag after each putty hole to pick that stuff up.
Yes, that is another benefit of puttying between coats of Polly.
But with latex Polly I have still had problems with oil stains from putty even when wiping with spirits. I've found it's best to really try not to smear the putty around the hole and wipe quickly.
I have heard you are not supposed to use oil putty on latex Polly but I've never heard of water bases putty.
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Old 05-06-2013, 06:36 AM   #15
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Re-finishing once carpeted (bare) stairs...


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Yes, that is another benefit of puttying between coats of Polly.
But with latex Polly I have still had problems with oil stains from putty even when wiping with spirits. I've found it's best to really try not to smear the putty around the hole and wipe quickly.
I have heard you are not supposed to use oil putty on latex Polly but I've never heard of water bases putty.
I've never thought about a problem with latex poly over oil putty, and haven't seen any problems with it yet. You say wiping with spirits, and then applying latex poly? Jever think it might be the spirits giving you the problem? You're wiping one oil base residue off and leaving another in the process. I won't use any spirits in a latex system. That may be what's giving you an issue, and why I use a dry rag only.

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