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Increase your home value: How to perform a perfect renovation on an old staircase

Written by Posted On Monday, 09 September 2019 18:59

Think twice before throwing out an old staircase that is made of high-quality materials. Replacing it with cheap and modern items may devalue your home. Renovating it with the right parts can add value.

Regardless of the year in which your home was built, its staircase will inevitably begin to show signs of wear and tear. So, how can one bring new life into an otherwise old (and sometimes decrepit) flight of stairs? This article will discuss how you can save your old staircase.


Start with a good assessment:

If you have a wooden staircase, you should generally inspect its safety every few years. If the staircase is over a decade old, you may notice concerning signs such as damage to the horizontal treads where continual foot traffic has worn away at the polished topcoat and has exposed the bare wood. Vertical risers also take a beating over the years as they are being continually kicked and bumped and these should be looked at, too.

In most cases, there will be more wear and tear on certain stairs than on others. Very often, a lot of varnish will be worn off the very bottom and top stairs and the middle stairs will look better. Stairs that show no signs of any bare wood showing can be cleaned down thoroughly and will benefit from a fresh coat of varnish. To clean your risers, put a capful of mineral spirits or paint thinner on the tread and then rub it down with a steel wool pad. Be sure to use gloves while cleaning and ensure that the area is dry and clean before using the stairs again.


Can some parts do with a good touch-up?

Wood varnish that has been worn off will need to be refinished. The risers will need to be sanded down (either manually or with an industrial sander). After sanding down each riser, vacuum up the loose sanding dust and then wipe them down with a damp cloth. Nosing (the front, rounded edge of the riser) that needs to be sanded down is best done with the use of a soft sanding sponge or convex pad inserted into an industrial sander.


Buying new parts or restoring old ones:

To revitalize the vertical risers (which, in all probability, will not show as much wear as horizontal ones), start by cleaning them down with a steel wool pad that has been dipped in some mineral spirits (or some paint thinners). Dry the risers with a soft cloth and then sand it down until the surface is smooth. It is recommended that you use a quarter sheet orbital sander with 100-grit sandpaper for this job as this kind of sander is smaller and will provide more accuracy.

As a general rule of thumb, your handrail will not show as much physical wear and tear as the risers since hand pressure is much less than that of pressure exerted by feet. Inspect your handrail closely for signs of worn off paint or varnish and caked-on grime and dirt.

If you believe that your handrail would benefit from some TLC, use a soft sanding sponge to scrub away at the surface. This will help to remove built-on dirt as the sponge has a non-damaging, abrasive grit. In addition, a sanding sponge has a convenient round shape which molds to the shape of your handrail. It is recommended that you start sanding from the top of the stairs and then work your way down, until you reach the bottom handrail. Using a sanding sponge is rather time-consuming but this is the best way in which to remove any blemishes, dirt or smudges. Stubborn stains will benefit from being removed completely with a ball of steel wool that has been moistened with a capful of mineral spirits or paint thinners. After this, the area will need to be sanded down with your sand sponge.

After the time-consuming task of sanding down your handrails, you will be ready to apply a coat of varnish. Before beginning the job of varnishing, ensure that you have vacuumed your stairs completely to ensure that there is no lingering dust or dirt. To be very thorough, you may want to consider wiping all surfaces down with a lightly-dampened cloth or chamois cloth.

Varnishing is best done by using a foam brush (usually about 3 inches in size). This kind of brush allows you to apply a thin and even coat of polyurethane varnish to your handrails, as well as your treads and risers. Foam brushes are definitely the way to go as they leave no unwanted bristles behind on the surfaces that are being varnished and also produce a smoother finish.

Once you have applied the first polyurethane varnish coat, allow it to dry for at least 4 hours before attempting to apply the next coat. Obviously, your drying time will depend on various factors such as the humidity in your region.

Before applying a second coat, lightly sand the area down again, wipe away any additional dust and then apply the second coat. Ideally, you should not use the stairs for a few hours after the application of the second coat.

A creaking staircase can be an indication that the wood within is rubbing together and that there is a potential area where the timber has come loose. The first step is to find out where the creaking is coming from and then to determine where you will need to screw the gap back together. If you notice that the creaking noise originates in the area between the riser and tread, you can simply glue on a thin strip of wood to cover this gap. The good news is that this exercise normally only takes a few hours if the problem is not too bad.


Where to buy new staircase parts:

If you detect any damaged spindles, balusters and rosettes, buy some new ones from a reputable group like Stairnation or a another good retailer: Sometimes these can even be repaired with some good quality wood glue or by nailing them down again. Either way, ensure that you do not touch these items for a few hours after the repair if you have used wood glue. This process does not take long and you can complete the repair within a few hours.

Your staircase is the focal point of your home and by repairing or renovating it, you can really improve the entire look and feel of your home.



Staircase renovation has been mentioned as one of the most important yet affordable changes that can add value to your home. Consider a full range of options when boosting the value of your home and doing sufficient research for good results.

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