sanding stairs - what tool do I need ?

Hi folks,
I have stripped the carpet from stairs and would like to sand and
varnish them. Currently they are painted white on both sides and bare
wood in the middle.
I own a cheapo orbital sander (~20 quid) and detail sander (~10 quid)
which I used yesterday to sand the top step. I managed to complete the
task but it took 3 hours (to do one step/riser). This is not the
efficiency I'd expect from power tools, especially that I was using
roughest sanding paper (60 and 80).
My questions are:
- is orbital/detail sander "the tool" for this job ?
- what other tool could you recommend for this task ?
- why does it take so long to sand the paint ?
- what is the right technique of using orbital sander, press it hard
or not ?
- will better quality orbital sander help in efficiency, or just
reduce operator's strain ?
many thanks for any help,
Reply to
You shouldn't sand off the paint - I'm not surprised it took so long. You need to strip it before bringing any sandpaper to bear - use a scraper with a hot-air gun (my preference) or a chemical stripper like Nitromors.
Then when all the paint's gone, get your sander out again.
By the way - judging by the description of the pattern of paint on the stairs I expect this is pretty old paint, which means it will contain lead - if sanding (especially) or burning/scraping you really don't want to be inhaling it.
Reply to
I really don't want to be inhaling the fumes from nitromors either. I've been using caustic stripper on mine: Ronstrip, though it's been reused umpteen times (I add water to make it the right consistency again, and some more caustic soda crystals, which I have to guesstimate). Spread on (bit difficult on the riser & nose) & cover with polythene & planks on the treads, leave for a day or more then scrape off (back into the tub for re-use) and wash & scour off the wood & softened paint (with one of those pot cleaning scourers that looks like a bundle of metal swarf). Then neutralise the caustic (particularly that stuck in the cracks) with HCl (Spirits of Salts) until no more fizzing and then neutralise the acid with bicarbonate of Soda.
Rubber/latex gloves + eye protection + great care absolutely essential throughout.
Then scrape, sand & oil the wood.
Takes about as long as scraping off the paint with an old chisel & sanding down the wood with big & detail belt sanders & whatever else: I don't thik there's an easy way.
Reply to
John Stumbles
My advice is stop now. Don't do it. By the time you are finished you will wish you had just demolished it and had it rebuilt in bare wood. It would be quicker, cleaner and if you count the cost of your time, probably cheaper too. My sister has just spent the last 6 months doing hers (not full time of course), spent a small sum on various power tools, accessories and sandpaper and has finally accepted that she will never get the paint out of the nail holes, cracks and corners. And during all of this time her house was covered in dust. My advice is stop now.
Reply to
Not really. Removing paint by sanding alone is difficult, and orbital action sanders are not really aggressive enough. Random orbit will be a little better, but not much. See:
formatting link
- what other tool could you recommend for this task ?
Conventional paint stripping techniques first, then sand. Alternatively clad the existing treads and risers in new wood.
Because the paint is designed to be abrasion resistant, and it also tends to clog sandpaper very quickly rendering it far less effective.
No, medium pressure, let the tool do the work. Don't try to "help" it by adding too much pressure - you will just wear the paper faster and overheat the backing pad.
Mostly the latter.
Random orbit will work faster. Belt faster still but less controllably.
Reply to
John Rumm
It doesn't really make much difference does it?
Best thing would be a good fire, and get everything new on the insurance.
Reply to
thanks for your suggestions - point taken about not sanding paint and using orbital sander, the house was built in 1965 so it's likely that the paint is quite old and contain lead
here are some pics - as mentioned I have done top step and riser yesterday:
formatting link
looks like a good alternative but how does one cover nosings ?
Reply to
olo wrote in news: m:
And here was me painting a (new, copy of original Victorian) staircase in the exact same style last week before fitting a carpet runner + brass stair rods! Each to his own :)
Woe betide he who tries to sand off knotting + 2 coats of primer/undercoat + 2 coats of gloss in the (planned) next few years we live here...
Kind regards
Reply to
Richard Perkin
With no mouldings or fiddly bits to worry about 2.5 ltrs of Nitromors type paint stripper would be my choice. Pick a day you can have the doors and windows open. There is a "procedure" for using it that has worked well for me. Give us a shout if you go that route. Next summer maybe?
A caustic based stripper has no fumes, but won't touch acrylic paints, and may darken the wood. Not that easy to get them to stick to vertical surfaces either. As a trial, mix a 10% solution of caustic soda with enough toilet tissue to form a gunk. Slap it on and leave it for a few hours, going over it with a hair dryer now and then to keep it warm.
Reply to
Stuart Noble
You appear to have very short nosings there so you could just lay new bullnosed treads over the top that are a little deeper, so they overhang the front a bit more.
Reply to
John Rumm

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