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RinSF 05-26-2010 02:24 AM

Ideas for refinishing hardwood stairs??
 
Hi,
I'm a first-time homeowner and am at a loss for what to do with my stairs. The building is from 1917 and the rest of the place has great hardwood, but the stairs are in dire need of refinishing (they were carpeted for many years). The risers are especially beat up and there are some 1/8"-1/4" gaps between a number of the treads/risers, so here are the two options I seem to have:

1. Refinish the stair treads natural, but cover the risers with brand new 1/4”-thick wood boards…which I would then likely paint white. (By the way, why do no floor guys want to deal with risers...isn't this what they do??) The good is that this extra 1/4” would actually help cover the gaps between many of the treads/risers. The bad is that I'm concerned new wood -- even painted -- would look artificial new next to the older treads.

2. Or…I could just paint the existing/old risers white. They’d obviously have a weathered look as they’re old and beaten up, but that may not be a bad thing. The only issue then is that the gaps between the steps would all be visible. I know I could put some molding there, but I don’t know if I’m a fan of molding on the bottom. Also, I'm told putty usually won't hold in gaps like this.

I guess my main question is...does anyone have any different or better ideas?? I'd like to keep the place traditional and authentic. Ironically, I bet stair rods would conceal the gaps, but I'm not really into doing a carpet runner.

I have a few pics of the actual stairs here (someone apparently painted them at some point), and I also tossed in a pic of what the stairs would likely look like if I went with solution #1 above.

http://bit.ly/bIVIIv

Thanks so much for your help.

chrisn 05-26-2010 03:08 AM

I would chalk the gaps and paint the risers white.

RinSF 05-26-2010 11:00 AM

Thanks for your reply. A friend actually suggested the same thing, but the gaps are primarily on the treads (i.e., although this isn't what's happened, it looks like the treads have slid forward...thus the the gap is on the horizontal portion of the step). As such, since the treads are going to have a natural finish, I'm not sure how I could get the caulk to match. If the gap was on the riser, no problem...the whole portion could get painted white. Also, not sure if this is the case or not, but one floor guy said he's filled in gaps before and had to come back a year later to fix as there's nothing to support the filler material. Who knows...I think he may have been using wood putty?

tacomahardwood. 05-30-2010 02:40 AM

We wood floor guys can sand a lot more $$$ in flooring in the time it takes to sand stairs and risers , Here's how I do it ,
Use a 4" grinder on the risers , If you are inexperienced you will gauge them a bit , I start with 24 grit to flatten the deep gauges , Then go up to 50 grit then 80 grit then 120 grit , Aging if you are inexperienced you will mess them up pretty bad , The there will be a lot of corner scraping , You will need a hardwood floor corner scraper , On the treads I use an edger , You can rent it at home depot , If theres a lot of paint start with 12 grit just to get the paint off , if it was built before 1978 do a lead test . Kit at Home depot or Lowes , If it has lead get more info. some of the old paint has up to 92 % lead .It will poisen your family and retard you kids , DON'T PLAY WITH LEAD PAINT IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT . It affects children in a terrible way , it is not a joke , Basically to sand lead paint you need a vacume system , it's ILLEAGL for me as a proffesional to sand lead paint in a home . Lookat the EPA web site . tacomahardwoodfloors.com

chrisn 05-30-2010 03:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RinSF (Post 447188)
Thanks for your reply. A friend actually suggested the same thing, but the gaps are primarily on the treads (i.e., although this isn't what's happened, it looks like the treads have slid forward...thus the the gap is on the horizontal portion of the step). As such, since the treads are going to have a natural finish, I'm not sure how I could get the caulk to match. If the gap was on the riser, no problem...the whole portion could get painted white. Also, not sure if this is the case or not, but one floor guy said he's filled in gaps before and had to come back a year later to fix as there's nothing to support the filler material. Who knows...I think he may have been using wood putty?

I hear what you are saying but when finished you would not notice it.As for the chalk gaping open, yes , it will happen if you apply too much at once.Apply first coat, wait a day and apply second.

chrisn 05-30-2010 03:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tacomahardwood. (Post 448720)
We wood floor guys can sand a lot more $$$ in flooring in the time it takes to sand stairs and risers , Here's how I do it ,
Use a 4" grinder on the risers , If you are inexperienced you will gauge them a bit , I start with 24 grit to flatten the deep gauges , Then go up to 50 grit then 80 grit then 120 grit , Aging if you are inexperienced you will mess them up pretty bad , The there will be a lot of corner scraping , You will need a hardwood floor corner scraper , On the treads I use an edger , You can rent it at home depot , If theres a lot of paint start with 12 grit just to get the paint off , if it was built before 1978 do a lead test . Kit at Home depot or Lowes , If it has lead get more info. some of the old paint has up to 92 % lead .It will poisen your family and retard you kids , DON'T PLAY WITH LEAD PAINT IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT . It affects children in a terrible way , it is not a joke , Basically to sand lead paint you need a vacume system , it's ILLEAGL for me as a proffesional to sand lead paint in a home . Lookat the EPA web site . tacomahardwoodfloors.com

Not if you get certified:wink:

tacomahardwood. 05-30-2010 11:46 PM

I am
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 448726)
Not if you get certified:wink:

I am certified , Maybe I miss understood what they said , I iether can't sand lead paint , Or not in a day care or place where they have children . Can You Tell me what I missed there at the seminar ?

tacomahardwood. 05-30-2010 11:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 448725)
I hear what you are saying but when finished you would not notice it.As for the chalk gaping open, yes , it will happen if you apply too much at once.Apply first coat, wait a day and apply second.

Caulk has a better adhesive and remains more flexible ,But will shrink so you will have to caulk twice , hardwood floor filler is probly to brittle and would break out due the stairs flexing , I would not fill a gap that has no backing . The other time consuming effort you could make is to rip some wedges and glue them in then sand them flat . Fill the much smaller gap and sand again ,
tacomahardwoodfloors.com

What have I done 05-31-2010 11:19 PM

is the gap simply caused by a piece of moulding that was possibly removed when they installed carpet?

RinSF 06-01-2010 02:29 AM

I think the gaps are simply a result of a 93 years in San Francisco (you should see my mantle...that thing's warped 4" on one side!). I'd say 7 of the steps have no gaps, but the other 5 have gaps from 1/8" to more than 1/4".

I guess it's possible that the steps did have a moulding on the bottom at one point, but I don't think so...there's no color variations in the wood, etc. The unit above me does have them, but they're clearly a newer wood that was put in. My guess is they put them in whenever they refinished the stairs as their stairs are all natural, so they probably needed something to cover the gaps.

chrisn 06-01-2010 04:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tacomahardwood. (Post 449085)
I am certified , Maybe I miss understood what they said , I iether can't sand lead paint , Or not in a day care or place where they have children . Can You Tell me what I missed there at the seminar ?

You must also have the EPA license

http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/firmapp.pdf


http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...0.1.1.13.3.1.4


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