I have a staircase from which I ripped up the old carpet. I’m trying to figure out how to refinish, seems I have four options:

  1. Refacing with a veneer tread cover and riser. This was my original plan but will involve a lot of precision cutting to make it work, especially on the turn.
  2. ripping out existing treads and risers and replacing with pine lumber. The existing treads seem to be pine 2 x10’s. I would then stain the pine. Not sure if this is a good idea.
  3. sand down existing stairs and paint or stain, maybe carpet down the middle. There are about a thousand nail holes to fill but this would not involve any cutting.
  4. carpet. These are basement stairs so I’d rather not do this


  • 1
    Another option is sheet vinyl with anti-slip edges on the front of each tread. There are some fairly grippy textured vinyls and it's quite easy to lay (and hard wearing, washable etc.)
    – Chris H
    May 3, 2019 at 8:14
  • 3
    Why not carpet? Get some industrial stuff that's synthetic (so no worrying about damp mold) and be done with it. May 3, 2019 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


Sand and Paint

Veneer or replace treads - that's a lot of work.

Carpet - relatively easy - but you said you don't want that.

Don't try to sand and stain - the level of sanding will be much more than for painting and I suspect in the end you will find so much old paint that staining won't work well.

Which leaves Sand and Paint as the best option.

No matter what you do, if the stairs are older than 1978 then test for lead paint or just assume that there is lead paint and take appropriate precautions.

  • 1
    +1, don't even think of staining after sanding. Getting a decent uniform stain can easily require sanding 1-2 mm of wood off. That's really hard to do well in place (especially in the corners), so you'd have to take the treads off first (and at that point you can as well just replace them).
    – TooTea
    May 3, 2019 at 10:14
  • 1
    Personally I would do a light sanding just to smooth them out (ie, not sand down to the wood) and then repaint them. Sanding back to the wood would be a lot of work, and very fiddly around all the internal corners. May 3, 2019 at 13:26

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