How to Care For and Protect your Wooden Stairs

Taking care of wooden stairs requires a bit more diligence, for the simple reason that this is not just any other wooden surface, but a high traffic area. And it gets even more tricky if you have a relatively large household or frequently host guests.

You never know what people are bringing into your house so it is imperative you regularly check on the stairs to ensure there are no stains setting in, as well as no scratches on the staircases and rails. In this post, we shall discuss some tried and tested tips on protecting wooden stairs so that they can retain their flair for as long as reasonably possible.

Tips On How to Care For and Protect your Wooden Stairs

Prevent Damage From Occurring In The First Place

Cleaning wooden stairs is a hectic exercise. However, what many homeowners don’t realize is that much of the damage that occurs to these stairs can be effectively avoided altogether. First, you may consider putting rugs near all entrances to the staircases.

Rugs will prevent the gravel pieces on the bottom of your shoes from scratching the wooden surfaces and causing damage to it. Many people ask: Should I Put Carpet on Stairs or Choose Wood Flooring? So, this depends on your personal preferences.

Also, if at all possible, avoid accessing the stairs using dent-causing shoes such as high heels. And whenever you are moving heavy furniture or other equipment, ensure you use padding. Padding will effectively protect the legs as well as the corners of such items from scratching on the soft, delicate wooden stairs.

Have A Regular Cleaning Schedule

This is another one of the proactive measures you can adopt to prevent damage and stains from occurring in the first place. You should ensure the wooden stairs are thoroughly swept and vacuumed as regularly as possible. Also, any spills or wet spots on the stairs should not be left on the stairs for long.

This is because they can soak up the wood and cause stains or warps on it. And when cleaning, use only recommended detergents such as solvent-based liquid wax to wipe the surface clean.

How to Remove Scratch and Dents

There are two possible ways to remove scratches or dents from your wooden staircase. If it is a small scratch, you can opt to hide them on the surface. And if the scratch is noticeable, you can choose to remove them altogether. If you are dealing with small scratches on waxed surfaces, you can simply apply and buff a new wax layer on top of the damaged area.

Of course, it is important to ensure the new layer you add overlaps with the rest of the surface. If it doesn’t, you may only end up adding more raised spots on the surface, thereby spoiling its appeal further. In the case of a large dent, you should rub the affected area using an extra penetrating finish, along with steel wool.

Refine with Oil or Varnish

If you are yet to paint or carpet the wooden staircase, it is important to apply varnish or oil before dirt or stains can appear. This is also a preventive measure that ensures permanent stains or marks do not appear on the surface. There are several substances you can use to refine your wooden staircase. Some of them include the following;

Polyurethane Varnish – This varnish is preferred for its ease of use. All you need is a brush and then you can go ahead to apply your varnish. But not all polyurethane varnishes are created equal. There are many different grades and types to choose from so you can find the best polyurethane for stair treads that will work with your needs! It is important to remember that Polyurethane Varnish is a fast-drying solvent. Therefore, you can apply another coat within a period of 24 hours.

Wood Oil – Wood Oil is preferred for its availability and durability effects. When applied, pores on your wooden staircase will soak up the oil. The main purpose of the oil is to make the stairs waterproof. That way, it is able to guard against any possible water seepage into the surface.

Hard Wax Oils – This is another effective varnish oil you can consider. It is made by mixing oil and wax together. It is also a fast-drying substance, taking just about 6 hours to dry up. And once dry, it protects your wooden staircase from peeling off as a result of dampness. But as a caveat, it is important to apply it in a well-ventilated room as the fumes are often really strong.

Remove All Mold

Mold often grows on damp surfaces, and wooden floors are the culprit. It is fairly easy to detect the presence of mold on your wooden staircase. Mold smells like rotting wood. But if your sense of smell is not so profound, you can use your eyes to check for any black or grey patches on the stairs.

You can prevent mold from growing on your wooden stairs by ensuring you dry up any wetness or dampness on the surface. And in case the mold has already set in, you can use a solution of bleach and water in the ratio of 1/2 cup to a gallon.


Evidently, it is not so easy to care for your wooden stairs. But with a little diligence and dedication, you cannot only succeed in cleaning it but also in preventing damage and stains from setting in in the first place.


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