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Stair Finish FAQ's

What paint should I use on a wooden staircase?

Only use a paint that is specifically formulated and durable enough for use on wooden floors such as Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Paint. General purpose paints are likely to wear quickly requiring the staircase to be stripped or repainted.

Help needed on how to make wood stairs non-slip?

If the staircase is new or has recently been stripped back to bare wood, it can be treated with an anti-slip varnish such as Bona Traffic HD Anti Slip or a wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil Anti-Slip.

Previously oiled starcases can be treated with a thin maintenance coat of Osmo Polyx Oil Anti-Slip.

How can I change the colour of a recently stripped Pine staircase?

Changing the colour and appearance of a Pine staircase can be done by either staining the wood with a liquid wood stain such as Manns Classic Pine Stain, Manns Trade Light Fast Wood Stain or Morrells Light Fast Wood Stain. These types of wood stains must be overcoated and sealed into the wood with a top coat of clear varnish or clear wood oil.

An alternative approach is to stain the stairs or staircase with a pre-tinted wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil Tints or a coloured varnish such as Ronseal Diamond Hard Coloured Floor Varnish.

Coloured wood oils tend to look good but tinted varnishes obscure the grain to an extent. They are convenient and save having to stain separately but they don't enhance tthe grain in the same way.

See our full range of clear and coloured finishes for wooden stairs and staircases here.

How can I repair wear patches and minor scratches on an oiled staircase?

Areas of wear and minor damage such as surface scratches on an oiled wooden staircase can be easily repaired. Simply clean the affected area with a dedicated interior wood cleaner to remove all traces of surface dirt, dust and debris. Allow the area to fully dry, especially if the water / cleaner has penetrated in to the surface of the wood. Apply a thin coat of clear wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil to the affected areas. This will restore the appearance of the oiled staircase finish making it look like new again.

Can you recommend a product that will protect but retain the natural colour of a recently sanded Oak staircase?

There are 2 wood oils that come to mind which would be perfect for this project. Osmo Polyx Oil Raw (3044) and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural are both Hardwax Oils which offer excellent durability, are scratch, scuff and liquid resistant, are easy to apply, maintain and patch repair if required. These 2 particular products have been specially formulated to better retain the natural, untreated look of the wood whereas a clear wood oil or varnish would darken the wood and enhance the natural character and colouration of the timber.

Hello can I apply a wood stain to my stairs and then apply an anti-slip coating on top?

The short answer to this is yes. Choose the required stain and apply. Once dry it can be sealed with an oil or varnish. If you're specifically looking for an anti-slip finish then Bona Traffic HD Anti Slip Varnish is probably a good option. This commercial grade varnish is very durable and hard wearing making it ideal for staircases. If an oiled finish is preferred, consider Osmo Polyx Oil Anti-Slip. The benefit of an oil is that should the finish start to look tired or worn over time, it can be very easily restored and made to look like new again without having to sand the staircase back to bare wood.

We have a huge range of wood stains suitable for softwood and hardwood staircases. One thing to bare in mind is that when applying a top coat such as an oil or varnish over the stain, it tends to strengthen and deepen the colour of the stain. Our recommendation is to always try several stain samples with the top coat applied to get a more accurate idea of how the stairs will look once completed. In other words, never make a judgment on colour by using the stain alone without the top coat applied.

Advice needed on how to treat a new Oak staircase?

To protect and maintain the appearance of a new Oak staircase, either a wood varnish, oil or wax can be applied.

Wood waxes have been used for centuries on wooden floors and staircases. Although clear wax polishes are good at retaining the untreated appearance of the wood, they don't offer much durability and can wear quickly requiring frequent re-application of the wax. Wood waxes tend to mark easily with liquid spillages.

Another consideration is that the sheen of a wax increases the more it is buffed. It's worth noting that with repeated 'sock traffic', areas of the stair treads will become more shiny than the surrounding wood as the wax is effectively buffed by the socks.

Wood varnishes offer excellent durability with some such as Bona Traffic HD Anti Slip offering anti slip properties. Using a clear varnish will darken the wood grain giving it a slightly damp-like appearance. Varnishes also enhance the natural character, grain and colouration of the Oak. A good test is to dampen a clean kitchen sponge or cloth and wipe over one of the stairs. This will give an approximation of what the staircase will look like when varnished in terms of colour and tone.

Wood oils also provide excellent durability, are easy to apply and maintain. One of the main benefits of a wood oil is that they are very easy to patch repair if an area becomes worn, scuffed or lightly scratched. The affected area can usually be restored by re-applying a thin coat of oil to the damaged area. As with varnishes, clear wood oils will give a slightly darker, damp like appearance and will enhance the natural colour and grain of the timber. Products such as Osmo Polyx Oil Raw (3044) and Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural are designed to counter this keeping the wood looking more like its untreated state whilst still offering the same level of protection. As with varnish, there are anti-slip wood oils such as Osmo Polyx Oil Anti-Slip.

Although an unlikely option for a new Oak staircase, the final option is to paint it with a wood paint that is suitable for staircases. If painting a staircase, it's important to only use a paint that is durable enough to withstand the day to day wear and tear of foot traffic. Paints that are not specifically designed for floors and staircases will soon start to wear or come away from the wood.

Stair Finishes

Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to provide product information that is as accurate as possible, it's important to clarify that trees and the wood that they produce can be affected by many factors. For example, the same species of tree grown in the same wood, even in close proximity, will be affected by age along with the amount of sunlight and water they receive. Other naturally occurring biological and environmental factors will also influence the density and grain of the wood as well as the moisture and oil content of the timber. No two trees are the same, meaning each piece of wood has the potential to look and react differently to the same wood finish. For example, product adhesion, colour variations, absorption rates and sheen levels. It is for this reason that we always strongly recommend carrying out test areas before starting any project