Sanding Stairs & Banisters
Because stairs are an integral part of the home as well as being extremely high traffic areas, it is important that they are well maintained if they are not to detract from the hallway flooring. Sanding stairs and banisters can breathe new life into your hallway, and revive your whole décor.
Why do it?
With stairs there are many options: for example if your stairs have been painted you can sand and repaint, or you can take the opportunity to remove the paint altogether and return your stairs to their natural condition. Whilst there is no doubt this will be an intensive process and not one you will be able to complete in a few days, it is one of those jobs that, when correctly done, will enhance not only the upper and lower hallways but the look of the whole house.
Working by hand
Working on stairs means using hand tools due to issues of space. Banisters should also be sanded by hand and any intricate wood turning designs treated with care. Damaged and scratched banister railings benefit greatly from some TLC in the form of a hand-held sander with some precision and a little elbow grease behind it!
Stairs can be re-sanded without any detrimental effect to the wood. Indeed, if stairs and banisters have been covered by layers of paint this may be the only way to ensure complete removal of all residual paint. All types of stairs and banisters can be improved by the floor sanding and finishing process. If the stairs are large enough you can use a hand held belt sander to help take the initial rough off, although you should be resigned to sanding by hand for the most part.
A labour of love
Many banisters have small bevels and circles for decoration. Older style rails may sport ivy-style twists and other decorative work. It would be fair to say that sanding such a piece should be seen as a real labour of love, as it will take a very long time to finish. Because stairs and banisters are high profile and visible, it is necessary to have a professionally perfect finish. To this end it may be worth considering enlisting the help of a professional floor sanding company who can employ specialist techniques to return your stairs and banister to their original beauty.
Whichever method you choose, once the wood has been taken back to natural condition it is likely that the sanding process has left it looking a little blanched and lighter than the rest of the hallway. If this is the case then remember the shade and tone can be built up to match with woodstain. Staining the wood has two important functions:
1. It ensures a natural blending with the hallway and surrounding areas.
2. The woodstain veneer offers protection against natural wear and tear.
Before applying stain, varnish or any type of finishing, ensure the stairs are smooth and even with no dips, hollows or gaps. If you find the stairs do have flaws after finishing then opt for a darker stain that will help to conceal minor imperfections. Remember though that if a flaw is obvious then it will be even more so when stain is applied. Hiding flaws can only ever work successfully if the flaw is miniscule to begin with.
When sanding always move along the grain of the wood. When working on knots and whorls on banisters use fine grain sandpaper and rub gently in a circular motion to remove old finishing without causing damage to the wood underneath. If the banister has been painted there is the temptation to apply vigorous force to get the paint off. But do this and you run the risk of damaging the wood. If you have no way of knowing how many layers of paint you are dealing with then far better to work slowly and carefully to remove the paint layer by layer.
Whilst definitely not a job for the faint-hearted, restoring stairs and banisters will bring years of pleasure and beauty into your home and, as such, is definitely a home improvement worth considering.