What You Should Know – Before Refinishing Your Stairs


Four Important Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting
STOP – if you’ve already decided refinishing is out of the question,  find out about our custom re-crafting process.
Otherwise, read on!
Carpeted stairs have fallen out of fashion lately… and for good reason.  Your stairs get more abuse than any other flooring surface in your home… especially on the nose. Carpet just can’t take the abuse over the long-term like wood. What’s hot these days is hardwood—beautiful, gleaming oak, cherry, maple, walnut, or mahogany. Making the switch from carpet to wood, though, could have some pitfalls if you don’t do your research and choose the proper method.

Maybe you’ve pulled the old carpet off your stairs and are thinking about refinishing the wood underneath. This seems like a simple, straight-forward solution, but there are a few things you should know first. Here are four questions you’ll want to ask yourself to make sure refinishing is a good choice for you:

Question 1: How tolerant are you of chaos?
Refinishing a staircase is a big, messy job—stripping off the old varnish; running the sander for hours with dust flying everywhere; applying several coats of the new varnish and letting them dry; hoping the varnish goes on evenly; waiting at least 48 hours for the final coat to dry completely; and finally—cleaning up the dust that settled throughout the house during the process.

Stair Refinishing will also disrupt life as you know it in your home—even if you hire someone else to do the work for you. There will be several days when you won’t be able to use the stairs at all. You’ll have to hope you don’t forget to bring everything down from the bedrooms that you are going to need. And don’t forget the air mattresses since you’ll most likely be sleeping on the floor.

If you’re determined to refinish, there is a way to keep the stairs in use throughout the varnishing process, although it will double the total time. All you have to do is apply the coats of varnish to every other stair, let it dry completely, and then do the remaining stairs. Of course, this will only work if all members of the household are capable of going up and down the steps two at a time.

Question 2. What kind of wood are your stairs made of?
You might be lucky and discover a hardwood like oak or maple under the old carpet. If it turns out to be a softer wood like pine, you’ll want to think twice about refinishing—a soft wood is not going to hold up well under the kind of traffic your stairway gets. If you’re not sure what kind of wood you have, try digging your fingernail into it. If it makes any kind of dent, it’s not a good candidate for refinishing… unless, of course, you like the “distressed” look.

The above project shows how painted risers
can give a staircase some real class by focusing
on the tread, accenting with rails to match

Question 3. Are you a passionate do-it-yourselfer?
If you are, and if you have a lot of free time, and a very patient family, then this might be a challenging and satisfying project for you. If not, it’s best to admit it upfront and hire someone to refinish your stairs for you. Of course, this means that you will basically be paying someone’s salary for a week or more. And you’ll still be stuck with the mess and inconvenience.

Question 4. When your stairs are unusable for several days, will your family still have access to a full bathroom?
This should be obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t think of it.

If this post has stirred up some questions about a better way to beautify your stairs, check out our re-crafting process. It’s truly revolutionary.
Give me a call to talk about your project today!
703-370-0000 or send over an email for information on stair work in zip codes 22304, 22314, 22301, 20002, 20004, 22013 and more.

Not ashamed to be a tree-hugger!

Christopher Moline
Residential Group Manager
Alexandria Carpet One
Commercial Carpets of America

6 responses to “What You Should Know – Before Refinishing Your Stairs

  1. I found the above very useful.

    I am thinking about “replacing” the stairs to the Basement with wood. Currently it is pine. About how expensive is this?
    Silver Spring, MD

  2. this is a very informative blog. great job

  3. where is your downloadable coloring page for tigressa carpet? thanks!

  4. Pingback: What You Need to Know About Wooden Floor and Carpet Floor Before Making Your Choice » Article Wonderland

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