Refinishing stairs best practices

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Jan 13, 2022
Corona, CA
I’m working on a refinishing project for my hardwood stairs and needed some guidance on best practices. Already did all of upstairs with a drum sander and now I have the stairs left to go, which I know will be a challenge. I plan on staining a “weathered grey” color and then applying poly.

Questions I had were as follows:

1) Do I use an edge sander, a dual action sander/palm sander or both?
2) Do I need to remove those white moldings on each side, or can I just cover them with painters tape?
3) Large rooms call for using a floor buffer after a drum sander and edger, what is the equivalent of this or would my dual action sander/hand sander work just fine?
4) There are wooden shoe moldings in between each step, so these get sanded by hand?

Thank you!

That looks like a lot of work. But if you’ve got the time then I say go for it.

I’d pop off all the trim and 1/4 round. A square palm sander would get you neatly up to all the edges n corners and would work on the risers as well. It’s pretty DIY friendly as well. You would have to hand sand the stair nose.
I have a sander attachment for my multi tool. It's almost triangular so it really gets into the corners.
It sure is going to be a lot of work. But I bet it'll look sharp when you're done though.
I'm with CJ about taking off as much trim as possible. That'll definitely cut down on the detail work.
Looks like a prefinished floor there? If so it's going to be a lot of work to sand through that finish as well as the bevels no matter how you go about it. If it were me I would use an edger for the stair treads and then just scrape the corners and nosings down. As for the risers - I don't have a good method of doing that. I suppose some kind of palm or orbital sander is your only option. Best of luck!

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