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Hints and Tips
Staircase
To most homeowners their staircase is a personal item of furniture with a personal characters all of its own.

S 12 Staircase

Firstly if you are going to sand your complete staircase, and banisters there is a lot of sanding to do. This is paramount to a professional quality finished; use only quality products there are a wide range now available on the market you will be spoiled for choice. Basically what they do is put a color or a protective layer on your wood. Remember is that they are all applied to a surface, so it is the quality of surface that you supply for these products that counts.

A 97 Sandpaper

If you look and feel the wood in the stairs it may seem sanded. However this may have only been sanded to a pre-finishing stage. This is because the finisher, namely yourself will now start the process for a finish, this is also applicable to the type of wood, varnish or stain that you are going to use.

Taking a few example, Maple in particular, generally does not take a dark stain as easily as say Oak. Different sanding techniques are called for. Maple is a closed grained wood and staining it takes some skill, oak on the other hand is an open grained wood and it likes to absorb stain.

A 19 hand sander

All types of woods will show cross grain sanding strokes and your new stair and banisters they can be difficult to spot to the untrained eye. But if not sanded are instantly visible the moment you wipe some stain on. Maple, birch and cherry will usually show cross grain sanding marks.

Do you require filler that is the question? If you are going to put a natural finish or clear finish on your stairs with no stain, fillers may tend to stick out like a sore thumb so use it sparingly, try to get the closest color match you can. Although filler is sometimes necessary at times needs to be used carefully.

Now having read all above carefully you are now ready to get started. What grade must I choose to start? Well that again will depend on the wood and stain color as mentioned above. If you are still unsure choose from your selection of sheets of sandpaper, find yourself a sheet of medium grade. Point being, that you will need a variety of grades to complete the project and you may be required to use all of them at different stages of the process. You will also require some steel wool.

Now is a very good time to take a piece of your scrap wood and test this theory, so you get a feel for it this is what I call the testing stage. You should do the above tests because sanding is more by touch and feel. When you are sanding you can not tell if it is right visually it all just looks like dusty wood. You have to know how if feels physically to sand correctly so you can have this physical feeling as you are sanding that you know you have sanded each section correctly and they stain accordingly.

Now your stair is ready for a top coat. Remember that thin coats build up to a better finish then thick coats. If you are using oil based product then follow the first coat directions it may suggest thinning. Apply your first coat and let it dry. Once dry it may feel very rough, this is because the grain raising a bit it may also happens with latex finishes. You will be required to again sand your stairs when completed apply another coat and let dry. Three coats should be enough it's entirely up to you if you want one more.

X 1 steelwool

This is where the steel wool comes in if you want a super smooth finish, steel wool your stairs and them buff with a gloss wax with the appropriate shine.
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