I removed my old stair runner and now the outside looks different from inside.

You can see that from the blue arrow:

enter image description here

It is hard to see with a few steps but if you look 10 steps up, it's very obvious in the afternoon (dark).

What is the best way to address this? Should I sand and stain them again?



What you're actually seeing is the polyurethane that's been exposed has ambered ( turned yellowish ). Sadly, that's a byproduct of using oil based polyurethane. Now that the center is exposed it will eventually amber as well.

If it really bothers you, you could try sanding the treads just enough to remove the existing finish. Just be careful not to sand thru the stain. Then clean the treads, with a rag lightly dampened with water or paint thinner, to remove any dust left behind. Finally recoat with fresh polyurethane. I'd recommend at least 3 coats with a light sanding in-between each coat to remove any bumps or bubbles and to give the next coat something to grab and stick to.

  • You can consider a waterbased polyurethane which isn't supposed to amber over time. – Quoc Vu Jan 25 at 3:53

What you are seeing is that light (most likely sunlight) has caused the stain/finish of the uncovered part to fade. The part previously covered by the stair runner was protected from this fading process.

I would not worry about this so much as to even suggest doing any re-finishing. If you leave it be the previously covered area will start to fade as well and over time the differences that you see today will become less and less distinct.

  • How long for it to fade? as this is a house I will sell in 3 months. – HP. Jan 12 at 7:20

I see the bleached area you speak of.

You could try sand with a high grit sandpaper 400+ to see if that works but if this fails I would try a stain remover before sanding if you wish to refinish. Your hardware shop should have information on the correct stain remover to use.

This might help guide you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9dfsaheKVI

  • 1
    That's not from stain. It's the urethane finish turning yellow from exposure to the sun. – BillWeckel Jan 12 at 0:43
  • Exactly! The carpet protected the rest of the stair from sunlight which bleached the unprotected area. – Kelly Jan 12 at 1:21
  • It's still not a stain as your answer says it is. – BillWeckel Jan 12 at 1:33
  • Bill, Miniwax Polyshades a combination of both and the easiest solution these days. Forgive me for not being plumber technical. – Kelly Jan 12 at 1:49
  • Bear in mind, most of us are professionals in various fields and try to answer with the best information possible. I'm fully aware of polyshades as I was in the hardwood flooring business for 12 years. Please don't take any of my comments the wrong way. – BillWeckel Jan 12 at 2:02

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