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Q: One visitor asked, "We removed the carpet from our stairs and will leave the wood treads. However, the area covered by the carpet is lighter than the side portions. What is the best way to refinish stair treads? Can satin polyurethane be applied?"

A: Stairs can take quite a bit of work to refinish, but it is an effort worth while if the treads are in decent shape. My essential tools to perform this task would include a floor edger, orbital sander and hand scraper. My approach is to use the finest grit of sandpaper that is practical to use, to remove all the existing finish, generally finishing up with 100 grit. Corners are scraped by hand, generally, and the entire tread is finely sanded with an orbital.
You can apply any sheen of finish you wish. Satin, semi-gloss or gloss. My approach is to use gloss for the first 2 coats, and then if you want a satin, use that at the end. Satin is a gloss finish with a flattening agent added. These flattening agents can cause problems at times, so I prefer not to build layers, one after another, using satin only. Each coat of finish should be lightly but thoroughly sanded before applying the next application. This is the means to create a mechanical bond between coats.

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