Stair finishing

The stage of wood finishing is, perhaps, the most exciting and pleasant process in woodworking. Wood finishing serves to accomplish of two main tasks, each of them being very important. The first task is to create a protective coating on the surface. It averts moisture penetration into the wood, and also precludes the contact of wood surface with eventual dirt. The second task is to discover the inner beauty of wood with the help of finishing materials. Lacquers and polishes are able to uncover and manifold intensify the wealth of textures and tinctures in wood, which have been created by the nature itself.

When you proceed to finishing of the staircase, all details shall be cut and milled. It would also be good to check the fitting of basic assembly units: treads – closed strings, newel – closed strings or open strings, etc. Wood finishing includes advance surface preparation – grinding and application of a protective coating on the surface such as lacquer, paint or polish.
The process of grinding shall be taken with all seriousness, because the future appearance of your staircase depends on it. Application of paint allows hiding minor defects on the surface, while after application of lacquers all even the smallest defects become apparent.








Prior to grinding carefully check the surface for checks, open knots, and other minor defects. Fill them if necessary with putty having a color similar to the color of the wood. The putty must run completely dry when you proceed to grinding.
Grinding is usually executed in two, and sometimes in three stages. One shall start grinding with coarser sandpaper and gradually proceed to finer one. It is essential that every subsequent sandpaper number removes the scratches remaining from the previous one. You can use electrical circular grinding or surface grinding machine. On fashioned surfaces and in hard-to-reach places grinding is executed by hand.
You shall be particularly attentive when grinding the edges of details. Avoid excessive rounding in these places. To grind the edges you can use a rod wrapped with sandpaper. Grinding is executed only in the direction along the grain.
As you may know from the section Preparation to work, it is forbidden to blow away the dust with your mouth or with compressor. Use a special brush for this purpose.
After all details are ground, you shall prepare a place for their painting. For example, it can be a place along the wall in a workshop or in a garage. It is essential to thoroughly clear out the place used. In order to avoid staining the floor and the wall can be covered with paper.

Prior to painting in order to remove fine dust from the surface all details shall be wiped with a dampish (almost dry) piece of fabric. Those places on details, which will be glued later on, shall be covered with masking tape.







Now let’s talk about lacquers or paints used for staircase finishing.
In general the selection of lacquers or paints for staircase finishing is no different from selection of lacquers or paints for furniture or parquet finishing. The only requirement they shall meet is high coating strength. Since the staircase in the house is a high-traffic area, when choosing lacquers or paints, give preference to those possessing high coating hardness after drying.
Lacquers can be water-base, solvent-base, or two-component with hardener.
Some lacquers require primer coat on the surface. Prior to applying transparent lacquer on a staircase the wood can be coated with stain. There is a great number of colors and tinctures of stain, so you shall choose one to blend well into the general interior.
Paints are also diverse in composition and colors offered.
In any case try to choose products of known manufacturers and do not seek to by too cheap lacquers or paints. The appearance of your staircase as well as the coating life will depend on their quality.
Lacquer or paint is best applied with a brush. Try to avoid drips on the surface.
After prime coating with lacquer or paint the surface will look far from ideal. But don’t get scared.
The prime layer is absorbed into wood and there occurs so called “grain raising”. It is due to the fact that the finest wood grains erect upon drying and as a result they form a shaggy and dead surface. After complete drying of the prime layer the surface shall be ground with the finest sandpaper. The surface will look even worse after that. Don’t worry, it ought to be so. Then, to remove the dust formed, you shall wipe all details with a dampish piece of fabric again.
The second layer of lacquer or paint applied is not absorbed by the surface in actual fact, and the coating is more uniform and smooth. After the second application the grinding procedure shall be repeated again. After grinding don’t forget to remove the dust formed.
The third layer will finally communicate smooth and silky gloss to the surface.
There are interesting designer decisions, when transparent lacquer is applied to a part of details, for instance, to treads and handrails, and white paint is applied to other details. Such decision allows not only to emphasize the elegance of a staircase, but also to make it even safer due to contrasting highlighting of treads.


After thorough drying you may put details away on a storage shelf and take them out as and when necessary. When carrying or transporting painted details, exercise special care in order not to damage the coating.
In the process of installation light scratches will inevitably appear. After complete assembly of a staircase you may retouch them. Remember the names of materials used for staircase finishing and their manufacturer’s name. Later on, if there arises a necessity to partially retouch some places, you shall buy the same materials as you used previously.

In the section Preparation to work we have already discussed the questions of work site arrangement. We would like to pay your attention to safety issues by paint job once again. It is necessary to provide for good ventilation of the room where painting is executed. Use protecting masks and respirators for respiratory protection. Prior to application of paintwork materials read carefully the application data sheet. Remember that almost all paintwork materials are highly inflammable. Don’t smoke indoors. Fire-extinguishing means shall be stored close at hand in the places of immediate access. Wash your hands well after completion of work with lacquers or paints.


Related Content :

- Stairs Types

- Balusters

- Staircase entry step