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Old 08-14-2013, 10:54 PM   #1
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs





After removing old carpet on stairs, I found the treads were bare 2x10 pine (or spruce?) and risers are bare MDF. There is 1/8" gap between the risers and treads. Due to limited budget, I decided to paint the stairs and refinish the oak handrails/spindles. Here is my plan:


  1. Fill nail holes and sand treads.
  2. Sand handrails to remove existing polyurethane
  3. Apply primer. Then paint treads and handrails with dark chocolate latex paint. 2 paints I'm considering are : http://www.sherwin-williams.com/pain...-floor-enamel/ or http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-ca/f...2&advs=0&tab=2
  4. Apply 3 coats of satin polyurethene for extra protection. sand lightly between the coats.
  5. Cover risers with 1/4" plywood paint with white Sherwin Williams trim paint - ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel. I have some leftovers when I did the baseboards a while ago. It's great product.
  6. Sand spindles to remove existing polyurethene
  7. Paint spindles with white Sherwin Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel

Is the plan feasible? without too much experience with stairs and handrails, I'm a little bit nervous. My questions are:


  1. How to remove existing polyurethane efficiently? Shall I remove the handrails and spindles for this?
  2. Did I select the right paint?
  3. Can I apply polyurethane on top of latex?


many thanks.

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Old 08-15-2013, 01:22 AM   #2
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


Sounds good to me ( mostly)
If you can remove anything to sand, it will be easier
Prime with a quality bonding primer( IE, BM's Fresh Start)
Forget the poly on the rest of it, no need

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Old 08-15-2013, 09:16 AM   #3
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


If the treads are pine, fir or whatever and were never sealed you may have to handle that before painting them. 1:1 processed (not raw) lindseed oil and mineral spirits/thinner will work as well as anything but may take longer for the solvent to evaporate than a sandable sealer from the paint store. Once sealed, do your final sanding.

Most floor and porch paints are self-priming and most primers are not built to be walked on so skip that primer step. I know Ben Moore's best (but I assume SWs similar). Ben Moore's oil-based floor paints are urethane reinforced and the waterbased are epoxy reinforced. I would apply two coats and skip the extra clear coat. Note that the oil based will have a higher gloss than the waterbased.

I would use floor paint on both treads and risers for the added strength. As long as you have it it certainly will not hurt the hand rails (or the spindles for that matter). I might even try a couple coats in an inconspicuous place to see how it covers the MDF. You may not have to add the plywood layer?

I am not absolutely sure what to expect putting floor paint over poly but I should think you could just scruff it up with 120 grit and apply the paint. If in doubt, sand or strip it off I guess. Sometimes a SHARP draw type scraper (pull it toward you do not push it forward) is the fastest way to remove staircase clear coats. You can pick up a contour scraper set for $20ish and a larger two-handed plain scraper for about the same I should think.







Fact of the matter is, if it is not chipping or flaking off and since you are thinking of painting semi over it on the spindles? Just apply a high bond primer/underlay and apply your semi-gloss over it.

You are not going to do all this work and blow it with box store products right? Buy from a real paint store.

Last edited by user1007; 08-15-2013 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:35 PM   #4
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
If the treads are pine, fir or whatever and were never sealed you may have to handle that before painting them. 1:1 processed (not raw) lindseed oil and mineral spirits/thinner will work as well as anything but may take longer for the solvent to evaporate than a sandable sealer from the paint store. Once sealed, do your final sanding.

Most floor and porch paints are self-priming and most primers are not built to be walked on so skip that primer step. I know Ben Moore's best (but I assume SWs similar). Ben Moore's oil-based floor paints are urethane reinforced and the waterbased are epoxy reinforced. I would apply two coats and skip the extra clear coat. Note that the oil based will have a higher gloss than the waterbased.

I would use floor paint on both treads and risers for the added strength. As long as you have it it certainly will not hurt the hand rails (or the spindles for that matter). I might even try a couple coats in an inconspicuous place to see how it covers the MDF. You may not have to add the plywood layer?

I am not absolutely sure what to expect putting floor paint over poly but I should think you could just scruff it up with 120 grit and apply the paint. If in doubt, sand or strip it off I guess. Sometimes a SHARP draw type scraper (pull it toward you do not push it forward) is the fastest way to remove staircase clear coats. You can pick up a contour scraper set for $20ish and a larger two-handed plain scraper for about the same I should think.







Fact of the matter is, if it is not chipping or flaking off and since you are thinking of painting semi over it on the spindles? Just apply a high bond primer/underlay and apply your semi-gloss over it.

You are not going to do all this work and blow it with box store products right? Buy from a real paint store.

The instructions you provided is very detailed and professional. I think I can use it as bible for this project.

This is the first time I heard that I need to seal raw wood treads. I'm very curious about the reason behind this.

I'd rather not to add 1/4" plywood on the riser. That's a lot of extra work. However the existing gap between riser and tread is close to 1/4" in the middle and around 1/8" near each end. Other than the new plywood, I'm not sure how to seal the gap.







I got the scrapers as per your suggestions. They work great. Many thanks!

Last edited by mechth; 08-21-2013 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:57 AM   #5
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


You do not need to remove the poly - just sand to degloss it.

Both the paints you mentioned do not recommend primer underneath them. (Since you gave the links to them, go ahead and read the PDS for the SW paint and the TDS for the BM paint.) Strangely, BM does recommend using a primer on vertical surfaces only.

These paints are different obviously in that 1 is water based and one is oil.

These paints are designed for foot traffic by themselves, so they do not need poly on top.

I'm curious if the extra 1/4" plywood is going to work well - if not a sanded smooth version, I don't think it will look very good. If you're concerned about the gap, you could always trim putting some sort of "shim" in there for lack of a better word, and then smoothing with wood filler. This could crack over time, especially since the treads will be stepped on. In that case caulk might be better, but it will be hard to get that flat and flush with the treads. You might use a combination - use wood filler, let it dry and use it for a few weeks, then caulk any cracks, then paint. Just grasping at straws here for a better solution for that gap :-)

Last edited by jeffnc; 08-21-2013 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:07 PM   #6
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


If the paint covers the MDF to your satisfaction, I would trim the gaps with good old fashioned quarter round.

The reason you have to seal open grain woods from conifers like pine and fir is that the grain is porous and will otherwise soak up paint or stain at different rates. Even hardwoods like oak can have this problem. Obviously, with a floor paint, you want the protection on the surface not sucked down unevenly into the wood?

Glad the scraper set is working out.
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:14 PM   #7
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
I would trim the gaps with good old fashioned quarter round.
That might give the most solid look.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:38 PM   #8
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
If the paint covers the MDF to your satisfaction, I would trim the gaps with good old fashioned quarter round.

The reason you have to seal open grain woods from conifers like pine and fir is that the grain is porous and will otherwise soak up paint or stain at different rates. Even hardwoods like oak can have this problem. Obviously, with a floor paint, you want the protection on the surface not sucked down unevenly into the wood?

Glad the scraper set is working out.
Things are moving well. I have filled most nail holes, removed most of the polys on handrails and spindles. when I checked 2nd floor, I noticed there is a problem on the risers. There used to be carpets so the transition between carpets and the painted part of the riser looks OK. After I removed the carpet, shall I paint all the vertical part the same color as riser?

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Old 08-26-2013, 10:45 PM   #9
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


I found some General sanding sealer in the garage. Bought it at Leevalley several months ago. Can I use this on the treads?

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...at=1,190,42942
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:51 PM   #10
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


Last weekend I sanded most of the treads to #150. Noticed there are some big voids on the first riser. It was not a problem before I removed the carpets.




What is the best method to fill the void? Shall I use wood filler?

************************************************** ***********************************

The treads were built to local building code requirements, which is minimum. Adding quarter rounds will make them narrower. I feel the safe way is leaving the gap as is.

Last edited by mechth; 08-26-2013 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:21 AM   #11
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Seeking advice on refinishing handrails, spindles and stairs


I would rough slice and glue in some plugs out of trim stock or something to fill in some of the void. Then fill in around them with wood filler.

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