What to do with these old stairs?

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Forum topic by Dave11 posted 12-06-2015 07:14 PM 725 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2535 days

12-06-2015 07:14 PM

I’ve got a stairway that needs of a lot of work. House was built in 1951. Stairway goes from the garage and basement to the main floor. It sees a lot of traffic and water/snow/salt.

In the pic, you can see someone before me epoxied rubber treads to the wood, I assume due to it being slippery, or getting dirty, or both. The second pic shows what it looks like under one of the rubber treads.

Denatured alcohol and laquer thinner both cause the dark color to lift a little and coat the swab, but neither gets down to what looks like bare wood.

The white dust is drywall dust, as I’m in the middle of drywalling over the block walls on both sides.

Lastly, many of the risers are gouged in places, you can see that as the horizontal streaks in the last pic.

The color of these stairs in my opinion is way too dark. A lighter color would suit much better I think.

Would a chemical stripper be the best start, then sand if needed to get down to bare wood?

And assuming I stain them, will those gouges be reasonably well hidden? These are basement stairs of course, not the ones in the foyer, so I’m not sure how compulsive to be.

All comments appreciated.

4 replies so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1974 days

#1 posted 12-06-2015 08:32 PM

I cant believe I’m actually going to say this… but maybe the quickest fix (and easiest) would be a light sanding, use drywall patch on any of the big gouges, and then pick a light color of paint to slap on.

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View BurlyBob's profile


5411 posts in 2233 days

#2 posted 12-06-2015 09:46 PM

I’m thinking Joe gave you the best advice. They’re utility stairs. They don’t have to be really pretty.

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1366 days

#3 posted 12-06-2015 10:08 PM

Drywall patch would be too brittle for wood. Wood filler is the stuff to use. Especially on the risers, which appear to be dented by overenthusiastic toes. If you painting the stairs, just use paint-grade (non-color-matched) wood filler.

View Dave11's profile


33 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 12-06-2015 10:44 PM

My concern about paint was that “people say” it won’t endure like stain and varnish, that it starts to show wear quickly. These stairs get beat up as you can see, and see a lot of snow/salt etc. At the same time, the basement is being finished out (by me) and any visitors coming up from there will be going up those steps. So I wanted something reasonably nice.

My hope was to stain them a lighter color, then go with something like a marine varnish with sand or something similar on the treads for a non-slip finish. I don’t mind doing some extra work. Would it be that hard to strip and re-stain?

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