Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors? Learn How To Refinish Your Steps By Hand

Posted on: 6 July 2015

If you have carpeting throughout your home that you are looking to rip out so you can refinish the hardwood, chances are that the steps in your home have carpeting on them too. Steps can be one of the most frustrating parts of the hardwood refinishing process, because so much of it needs to be done by hand. Follow these tips to learn how to refinish the steps on your own.


You'll start by removing the old carpeting on the stairs that was previously nailed or glued down. A pry bar works great for lifting up each area of carpeting, which will give you enough leverage to rip it out by hand.

It's important that you remove every single nail or patch of glue left behind on the wood, because it can potentially ruin your sanding equipment later on. Even the tiny staples will need to be removed with pliers if there is a sharp end still stuck in the hardwood. Glue residue can be scrubbed away with a commercial glue removal product and a scrub brush. Dry the steps off with a rag when finished.

Sand And Stain

Since a large floor sander is out of the question, you will need to use a small hand sander to sand the stairs. Stairs are one part of your home's hardwood that can be a little bit rougher, because stairs that are too slippery can cause a person to slip and fall. Only use sandpaper with a grit that is no finer than 60, which will help give people in your home some much needed traction when going up and down the stairs.

The goal of sanding the steps is to remove any imperfections in the wood. In the end, the steps will be smooth and even, but still retain enough traction to prevent slipping. You'll also be sanding off the existing finish as well, which is why you need to sand the vertical backs of the steps too.

Once you've finished sanding, you can apply a stain with the color you desire using a paint roller or brush. Always stir the stain so that it has a consistency that is even. Apply your stain in a back and forth motion with the grain of the wood, and let the stain dry according to the manufacturer's directions.


A coat of polyurethane can be applied to the steps if you want the wood to have a shiny look. It will also add a layer of protection that will prevent scuff marks from being left on the wood, and prevent the stain from naturally fading over time. The polyurethane coat should be applied in the same way as the stain, using long brush strokes along the grain of the wood. 

If these directions sound too difficult, feel free to contact a hardwood flooring professional, like those at Front Range Interiors, that can handle this time consuming process for you.


home renovation - when to call the pros

My husband and I thought it would be a nice idea to buy an older house and renovate it from top to bottom. We got in there, did a lot of demo work, and then things started going south in many areas of the house. We learned a lot while we were working together, especially when to call in the professional renovation contractor for help. Thankfully, we found a contractor that was patient, fair and did really great work. You can use our experience to get an idea about what home remodeling projects are possible to do on your own and what you should call the professionals in for.