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Old 12-10-2009, 11:42 AM   #1
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Refinishing Oak stairs

Please help,

I have either pine or oak steps that I tried to refinish. I sanded down the wood with a belt sander and then put on a coat of stain with a paint brush. After the stain dried I noticed that I had splotches of shiny spots all over the steps. To further explain: the spots are like if you polyed the spots. The spots are smooth and light in color but all I did was put a stain on. The wood is suppose to soak up the stain but it looks like in the spots it just laid on the top of the board.

I have heard that I used the wrong stain, but it says on the back that it is for my project. I have heard that it is also from the type of wood - pine or oak is notorious for splotching because the wood is tighter in some spots which would create no room for soaking up the stain. I have heard that I didn't sand evenly. I have heard that I should have used an edger instead of a belt sander, etc, etc......

Does anybody have any advice, do i have to start over and resand?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:06 AM   #2
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Dave - where to begin. First off, you may get more help if you started a new post for your question versus tacking on to an old one. Anyway...

There are several mistakes and many possible contributing factors to your problem...

Belt sandsander? That removes a lot of wood quickly and may have left the surface uneven. Before staining you want the surface to be sanded smooth with a 220 grit paper using a random orbital sander. Hand sanding will be required in the corners and maybe the edges.

As for the spots. The first thing is to understand possible causes. I cant say for sure which is your cause, only a guess.

1) Old finish still on.
2) glue dripped and soaked in
3) uneven porosity of the wood

Your technique will mitigate against any of the potential issues. IF you sanded all the old finish off and IF there was no glue or other contaminates before you stained then the issue is the wood itself.

How can you deal with that? Sanding sealer! Sometimes its called wood conditioner. You put it on first and it evens up the pours in the wood so the stain takes up evenly.

Check the can of stain, it likely mentions this step.

The weird thing though - You say the spots are shiny. That leads me to believe number 1 or number 2.

How to recover - if the issues is old finish or glue. you could try just scraping or sanding those spots and trying to blend in the stain. Its worth a try versus refinishing the entire thing.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:35 PM   #3
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refinishing step

Thanks Brik for all of your help. I think I will do what you suggested and just try to redo the shiny spots vs resanding the whole thing.

I will look at your recommendations and use them and hopefully they will work.

Thanks again,
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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I did custom stairs for several years and we only had this problem if there was glue left on the wood that we forgot to sand off. FWIW
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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The procedure is different for oak versus pine. Since you are apparently not sure if you have oak or pine, perhaps you could post a picture. Pine is softer than oak, and depending on the species and grade may have knots. Oak comes in different species also, typically red oak or white oak, and if you plan to stain oak, you usually have to fill the wood first to get a good finish.
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