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.

Hi, I want to stain a new pine handrail to match my Mahogany coloured front door. The door is UPVC not real wood. Is it possible to make the rail look good?

Matching woods to other woods or imitation woods can be difficult, but not impossible. Experimentation will be required to achieve the nearest colour match. A good place to start is Manns Classic Pine Stain. It's a highly versatile, water-based wood stain that can be inter-mixed or diluted with water to achieve an almost unlimited number of colours and shades. The depth and intensity of the colour can be made darker/stronger by applying more coats. Test areas are key and must include the top-coat (oil or varnish). Applying the top-coat usually deepens and/or intensifies the colour of the wood stain.

As this is a water-based stain it is likely to raise the grain of the pine handrail meaning that it will feel less smooth. To counter this, the handrail can be wet sanded before application to raise and reduce the grain first or lightly dry sanded after each coat of the stain. It's important to only lightly sand the wood after applying the stain to keep the wood smooth, heavy sanding can potentially sand some of the stain out of the wood. Our recommendation would be to use a 120 to 150 grit Woodleys Finishing Pad or other abrasive such as sandpaper sheets.

Manns wood stains must be finished with a varnish or oil top-coat such as Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish. Varnishes tend to be more durable and are better for a higher gloss finish if this is desired/required. Oils are better if a more natural appearance is required and are easier to maintain if they start to look worn over time.

If using a water-based top coat such as a varnish, apply the first coat thinly, passing over the surface with few strokes to avoid any lifting or dragging of the stain. Apply the second coat as normal, denibbing between coats.

I've sanded our stairs back to bare wood, but the pine stair treads are clearly much lighter on each side and darker in the middle where the stairs clearly had a stair runner at some time in the past. The join between light and dark is clearly visible as if they are different coloured woods. What can I do to achieve an even shade of finish to the whole of each stair tread while still showing the natural wood underneath?.

This is a common issue with stairs where UV and general wear have affected the wood at the sides and the middle area has been protected by a carpet runner. It can sometimes be as simple as further sanding with a coarser 40 to 80 grit sandpaper, to really remove the surface layer of the wood. This should bring back the original wood colour and an even appearance. If sanding with a coarse 40 to 80 grit abrasive, it's important to sand again afterwards with a 120 to 150 grit abrasive to restore a smooth surface that is suitable for finishing with a wood oil, varnish or stain.

An alternative approach to consider would be Fiddes Oxalic Acid Crystals to restore the original colour of the wood. I would strongly recommend a test area first to ensure it gives the desired result. Any test area should include the final finish be it a wood oil or varnish to get the full effect before starting the project. The test area should overlap the two different coloured areas to ensure that the reaction is the same and that you are happy with the appearance.

Essentially the wood has aged differently and so although you may be able to bring the natural appearance of the wood close by sanding or bleaching, the finish may still highlight a lesser difference because of variances in how the wood has aged over many years.

One thing to mention is that pine has a naturally yellowy or golden appearance and when sanded, cleaned then finished with an oil or varnish, can become orange or golden looking. This isn't always to everyone's taste. Your test area will give you a good indication of how the final finish will look. If you wish to better retain the natural, untreated look of the sanded pine, it's worth considering wood oils like Osmo Polyx Oil Raw (3044) or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural, or varnishes such as Bona Mega Natural or Liberon Natural Finish Floor Varnish. These products are designed to counter the natural yellowing that standard, clear finishing products can produce and better retain the natural, untreated look of the wood. Varnishes are generally more durable than wood oils but cannot be patch repaired if they become worn, chipped or damaged. Oils are only slightly less durable than varnishes but are much easier to maintain and patch repair if required.

If you have any further questions or queries regarding this project, please feel free to contact us.

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