Help! How to Replace Carpet around Splinters with Laminate!
It sounds like the OP has pine treads and that she doesn't want to replace them.
I have somewhat the same issue (I have a curved staircase, which makes tread replacement pretty costly) and my approach will be taupe porch paint on the treads, Duration extra white on the risers and trim. I may even paint the banisters to match (they're a gunstock oak, which is a color we have no where else in the home).
I think that painting is a better solution than laminate (e.g. how are you going to bullnose the tread edges with laminate?). The thing that makes me shy away from stain is that you might get it to almost match, you'll have to sand off the overspray that the builder most likely left on the stairs, you'll have to deal with a thousand staple holes, etc. It's certainly not impossible, and I imagine that top coating with several films of water-borne flooring urethane will provide a wear-resistant surface.
Seriously, I love that stuff (water-based urethane). With two coats a day, you can have six coats in three days; done. Only takes an hour or two to dry. Just sand and clean between each coat with progressively finer sandpaper. Easy.
Maybe it's just me, but I've never liked the look of pre-finished flooring on stairs. It just looks - wrong. Tacky, even. I'm replacing carpet with hickory and for $25 each I just bought hickory treads. Stairs should look like stairs and floors like floors.
Last edited by zakany; 11-21-2012 at 09:45 AM.