How to Sand Wooden Staircase?

Jan 9, 2024

Due to heavy foot traffic, wooden stairs can lose their looks and appeal. So, if your wooden staircase looks old and worn out, you should consider refinishing it and giving it a makeover.

In this blog, we will delve into wooden stair sanding and guide you through every step of sanding your stairs. It will help give your staircase a fresh new look and restore it to its former glory.

Step-by-Step Guide to Sand Wooden Staircase

Materials You’ll Need

  • Sander (orbital sander and edge sandpaper)
  • Different grit sandpaper
  • Scraper
  • Wood filler
  • Hammer
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Other miscellaneous tools

1. Know Your Stairs

Before you start sanding your stairs, you need to do some basic research and find out important information about them. This includes the age of your staircase and its wood type. Also, inspect the treads of your staircase and ensure they are in good condition.

2. Prepare for Sanding

Get your stairs ready for sanding by vacuuming them and removing dirt, dust and grime that may interfere with the sanding. Also, if there are any nails on the stairs, use a nail punch to pull them out. Don’t forget to wear a PPE suit and gloves to protect yourself from wood shards and wear a mask to avoid breathing in dust particles.

3. Strip the Old Finish and Varnish

Apply a paint stripper on your stairs to remove the older layers of finish and paint from your flooring and prepare it for sanding. Let the paint stripper work for a while and break down the old finish and varnish.

Then, use a carbide scraper to remove the scrape of the previous layers from your stairs. Work with the wood grain to avoid any additional scratches to the wooden stairs.

Note: Ensure you are wearing gloves when working with a paint stripper.

4. Start Sanding

Start sanding your stairs with 50-60 grit sandpaper. Sand the open surface of the tread first and remove the remaining finish and varnish. Use a hand block to sand and detail the hard-to-reach areas, like handrails and spindles. You can also use steel wool for this.

Repeat the process using higher grit sandpaper at least two times for a more finer sanding. Then, use the block to even out the remaining places and get your desired look.

5. Fill the Gaps with Wood Filler

When you finish sanding, there are still some holes and imperfections left. You can fill them using a good quality wood filler. So apply the filler with a putty knife and spread it out. Remove the excess filler and wait for it to set.

6. Do a Final Vacuum

Before staining the wood or applying the finish, vacuum the staircase from the top to the bottom again. This step is necessary to ensure a dust-free sanding with minimum dust particles. Moreover, it will prevent unwanted contaminants from ruining the look of your finished stairs.

7. Apply the Stain

Applying the stain is one of the final steps of refinishing and sanding your wooden staircase. It will help you achieve the desired colour and finish. So, read the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the coat with a roller. You may need to use multiple coats of paint.

Don’t apply another coat till the previous one dries to ensure an even staining throughout the treads and risers.

8. Apply Finish

You can also apply a polyurethane finish on your wooden stairs after staining. Doing so will protect the high-traffic areas from looking dull and worn out. Use a brush to apply the finish, per the manufacturer’s instructions and do multiple coats for long-lasting protection.

With these steps, you can easily sand wooden staircases and remove the blemishes and imperfections from them. Just remember to protect yourself by wearing proper PPE gear and masks to prevent accidents.