Refinishing beat up pine stairs. Solid stain?

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Forum topic by Canofworms posted 06-21-2014 12:03 AM 1145 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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103 posts in 924 days

06-21-2014 12:03 AM

So, I will likely replace these treads in a few years, but until that time I was thinking of doing a solid stain.
Or should I paint them?
Is there a stain that will go on like a deck stain, thick and not showing the grain?
I would then put a finish coat on top.

My floors will be light, so I want to do something light.

Maybe a white wash stain?

I’m just thinking out loud here and wanted your feedback.

1 reply so far

View srzsrz's profile


37 posts in 1289 days

#1 posted 06-22-2014 08:37 AM

Deck stain is a bit of an oddly named finish. Typically, if it penetrates and tints it’s a dye, if it doesn’t penetrate and it tints it’s a stain, if it penetrates and protects it’s an oil, and if it doesn’t penetrate (forms a clear film) and protects it’s a varnish. And, of course, it it forms an opaque film, it’s just paint.

And then there’s “deck stain”, which is really more of a paint. It doesn’t really fit the normal taxonomy and to my knowledge there is no interior equivalent.

Anyway, there are so many options that it’s hard to have any sort of idea of what would work for you without a picture. In general, stairs, like hardwood floors, get a lot of abuse. There are two philosophies about that.

If you put a low quality varnish on it (e.g. shellac), before you know it it will be so damaged that you have to refinish: and with a varnish, that’s going to involve sanding, or else it’s going to look uttbugly. So if you do go with varnish (and most people do), you use the strongest, most scratch resistant finish you can find. In factories making prefinished flooring in bulk, that’s UV-cured, but for you, it’s polyurethane. Like with any varnish, if it gets damaged and you want to refinish you’re going to have to do a lot of surface prep. But it’s so strong that it can last many years without noticeable damage.

The other philosophy is that if something is going to get scratched up anyway, what you really want is not a finish that doesn’t degrade (since there’s really no such thing), but one that’s easy to maintain. This is where oils come in. The practice is less common in the US, but in Europe, you can find wooden floors that have been treated with products like linseed oil and beeswax for centuries. The finish degrades as the wood gets scratched, some of the oil is absorbed into the rug, etc., but it’s easy to fix: just put on more of it. You want the wood to be clean when you do it, but that’s all the surface prep you need.

Anyway, send a picture.

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