Refinishing Oak Stairs


My husband and I just purchased a home that was completely wall to wall carpeted. When we removed the old carpet we found lovely oak floors which we intend to sand and refinish. My problem is with the oak stairs. The previous owner covered them with linoleum tile stuck down with black mastic. Both the stairs and the risers were heavily scored. I have managed to get the tiles and the mastic off ("Foam Off" worked great) but the gouges from scoring are not sanding out. The stair feels smooth to the touch but I am left with these black lines all over the stairs. I have used 50 grit sandpaper and as much muscle as I can muster and can't seem to sand out these lines. I have used both a palm sander and have tried hand sanding. Can anyone offer some advice on what I can try next? I am almost at the point of resigning myself to having to paint them but it would break my heart to cover the oak.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

How thick are the treads and can they be removed without too much difficulty? First thought that comes to mind is removing them and running them through a planer. Barring that, you might rent a commercial sander or perhaps hire someone to remove the gouges for you. Another idea that comes to mind is an electric plane. Only downside to that is that you can't get into corners or near edges with one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Another idea that comes to mind is *if* you can remove the treads without too much difficulty, you may be able to just flip them over and get an unaffected surface.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I had a similar problem with a whole floor that had been covered with black mastic. I used a heat gun and scraper to get the surface mess off, then ground a Hyde joint scraper to clean out the T&G joints. Filled the joints with paste wood filler and after drying sanded the whole floor with a 6" belt sander. It was a lot of work, but with a few coats of Tung oil & Shellac wiped on the floor looked great. Scratches are easily repaired with the finishing mix. Bugs
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

And maybe not. I tried to do exactly that when removing the carpet from my stairway. Treads and risers were filled with holes from the tack strips, pad staples and carpet staples. When I got the treads off found that most of them had flaws on the bottom that were far worse than the damage to the top. Mostly voids and areas that did not clean up from the planer.
Ended up filling the topside holes and refinishing. Came out great. filled areas give the floor an antique look that we like.
OP maybe should finish one and see what she has. Might be OK as is.
Frank
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Frank Boettcher wrote:

If there are balusters, that puts the kibosh on the plan, and if the stair skirt boards sit on the treads, which is the typical situation, removing the treads could be next to impossible.

Right. Treads frequently have saw marks and other imperfections on the underside. It's also problematic depending on the stair construction. If any of the treads aren't rectangular and uniform, then you won't be able to flip those particular treads.

I've refinished more than a few sets of stairs that were in horrible condition, with much wailing from my muscles, back and knees. Scraping followed by sanding is the easiest and fastest way I've found to clean up the wood. The sanding shouldn't be started until pretty much all of the offending mastic is removed as the sanding will heat it up and smear it around.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Just another look at this problem...
If the flooring was down for some time and it was the old petroleum/solvent based adhesive (which it sure sounds like) you may be in trouble. The petroleum stain has no doubt over the years has seeped deeply into the wood, >especially< in an open faced wood like oak.
The reason this is a problem is that the foot traffic is concentrated into a small pathway on the stairs, which constantly grinds in the ahesive every single time the stairs are used. If by using the term "scored" you are referencing wear, no doubt the original adhesive (which can take years to lose all of its solvent) can work its way into those scored areas making the pentration of the stain very deep.
When I have run across your problem, we do a test tread for the client, and time the guy doing the prep to see how long it should take. If it takes more than a couple of hours a tread and riser, my clients have always bailed out. We scrape first, then add a little acetone, then scrape some more with a cabinet scraper. When we have everything off we can get with the scraper, we sand starting at 80 grit with an ROS, and work up the grits. Corners and edges are done with a 1/4 sheet square sander.
The last one I did, we painted the treads a soft earthtone, and I came up with the idea of cutting an oak door skin into strips and tacking them onto the risers. That way we didn't lose the oak look on the stair case. Standing in front of the stairs you saw the pretty new oak risers, and that gave the owners enough to make them happy. The risers were stained and finished to match the rails and balusters, and after it was finished it actually looked great.
Good luck!
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Kelly" wrote in message
Buy a good heavy duty paint scraper, the kind with the replaceable blades, and have a go with it. You may find this easier, and more aggressive, than sanding.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 12/13/05
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.