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Options for refinishing your stairs

Stairs often end up being a major focal point in most homes and inevitably experience some serious foot traffic over the course of their lifecycle. With time, this foot traffic accumulates and slowly but surely wears down your stairs, especially if you are living in an older home or with a large family.

Replacing your stairs, however, is an expensive step to take for most people. Instead, you are more likely to opt for a refinish, which removes all but the worst scratches and restores the lustre to your stairs that may have been lost with time.

Today’s article will review some of the most popular refinishing options on the market and help you select the one that is the right fit for you and your stairs.

Before we get started, however , it is very important to make mention of the fact that if you notice that your staircase is squeaking or creaking, you would be best served to have this looked at before refinishing, as it may indicate a serious structural concern that could come back to haunt you.

Taking this precautionary measure will greatly extend the life of any other investments you make in your stairs, refinishing included.

Now, Let’s take a closer look at your refinishing options:

If your stairs are carpeted… The most obvious option is to replace the carpet with a more modern or stylish variety, but you can also opt to remove the carpet entirely and refinish the wood beneath, assuming it is in reasonable condition (you may be pleasantly surprised going this rout!).

If your stairs are not carpeted….  You have a variety of finishing options to choose from.


  • Water-based Polyurethane:  This type of finish is known for being both environmentally friendly and extremely easy to apply for DIYers. The major drawback of water-based polyurethane, however, is the high cost.
  • Oil-based Polyurethane: A cheaper and slightly more durable alternative to water-based polyurethane that costs less but is generally applied by professionals.  Unlike water-based polyurethane, oil-based finishes leave a slightly amber tint.
  • Acid-cured: A potent finish that requires vacancy from the home for a few days and is intended primarily for stairs and flooring that are crafted using luxurious woods.
  • Wax: An ideal, affordable finishing solution for older homes that can be applied without the assistance of a professional.
  • Moisture-cured Polyurethane: The ultimate in durability for large families whose stairs receive significant traffic. It lasts for a very long time, but also requires you to vacate your house during application and ends up being one of the more expensive finishing options.


Refinishing your stairs will provide your home aesthetic with a breath of fresh air and increase its overall value. If you are not keen at DIY projects, trust and our extensive contractor directory to find a professional to get the job done right for you.

Feature image source: Contemporist


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