Polyurethane, stain and finishing recommendations for stair treads

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Dec 29, 2022
Gentlemen, I’m looking for advice on how to properly finish white oak stair retreads that
I installed myself for two sets of staircases.

They were installed over the winter and have not been sanded or finished yet. Any advice on sandpaper grit, whether a wood conditioner is needed and if so which kind, and which stain and polyurethane to go with would be much appreciated.

They have been walked on for quite a few months so I’m assuming they need to be cleaned and conditioned prior to sanding.

As far as sanding, the treads are fairly smooth from the factory but the oak planks I used for the landings will definitely need more sanding in order to level them out, especially where the planks meet perpendicularly with the retread bull nose. The bull nose sits slightly higher then the boards. Which grit for an orbital sander would you recommend? As well as sandpaper sheets for the hard to reach corners I’ll have to do by hand.

The stairs are oak but the flooring on the main floor and upstairs hallway is laminate. It will be a tough color match which I’m sure is impossible to exact. Any recommendations on how to go about mixing and testing stains? I have plenty of scrap pieces to experiment on. Personally I would leave them natural but my wife would like the color to match a little better. Plus I have some nail holes I’d like to fill and try and hide a little better.

Lastly Recommendations on polyurethane selection. I’d like for them to be as durable as possible since I have young kids and a low lustre sheen, perhaps a satin to match the laminate sheen. I can also deal with the fumes from an oil based poly if you fellas think that’s the best option.

I’ve yet to paint the stringers and risers which will be white, but I’m assuming it would make more sense to mask them off, then stain and poly the treads first, then mask off the finished treads and paint the risers and stringers last?

Sorry if I come off as all over the place. I’ve just been putting off this last finishing process because I don’t know where to begin with product selection. Any advice is greatly appreciated.



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