I ordered the wood for my staircase and now I need to decide on which product to use.

Some people recomened polyurethane or some water base resin, but I don't like that (I think it might crack and/or scratch).

Apart from that there are some varnishes available that are meant to protect from sun/water with guarantee of 3-5 years.

I'm also considering using some kind of oil/wax, but in Brazil finish oils are hard to come by. I think that I might find mineral oil, carnauba wax and bee wax.

The wood I'm using is rated at about 1750 pounds-force on the Janka scale, should I be worried about the wood getting damaged by constant walking?

  • 1
    polyurethane is what's uses on most hardwood floor finishes. Oils can work too. There's no 'right' answer to this.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 18:50
  • Hum, I'm asking that because in Brazil hardwood floors aren't common, so people don't really know how to deal with them. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 18:56
  • Polyurethane isn't specific to wood floors - it's commonly used as a finish for wood in all sorts of applications from fine furniture to bird feeders. That said, my personal choice for a wood floor would be a blend of polyurethane, a hardening oil (linseed or tung), and mineral spirits in about 1:1:1 proportions. The oil carries some of the polyurethane varnish into the wood a short distance, so it's not strictly a film finish (which can chip and peel) any more. The mineral spirits thins them both, making penetration even deeper. Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


10 years ago I used some red oak stair treads and put Minwax stain, an oil based product. I waited a few days for drying, then put three coats of satin polyurethane on them with a very light sanding between coats. We use these stairs several times a day and they do not look worn in the least.

  • Do the polyurethane seems "plastic"? I want to avoid this look, this is why I'm prone to use oil or some wax. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 21:32

I recently put in a set of hardwood (oak) stairs and finished with a water based stain and water based coating (several coats until I liked the look). We have thousands of trips up and down and there is absolutely no visible wear. Not to say there won't be BUT it is impressive so far that there is no wear. Three dogs up and down with us most trips too!


Satin looks nice , in my opinion. Be careful with wax on stair treads - know why? Remember the following equation: Waxed treads + socks on stairs = disaster!

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