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Guest Blog: Wood Finishes for Stairs


03 February 2016


Spiral staircases are a beautiful, and amazing example of design and engineering. Having the potential to become both a feature of your home, and something to which both friends and family may wish to aspire. Although you may have decided on having a new spiral staircase installed, have you considered how you want your stairs finished? There is a plethora of finishes and treatments available, to suit every style and home.

Stair Stains

Stair stains are a great way of adding colour to your wooden stairs, whilst bringing out the natural grain of the wood. Stains are either water or solvent based, and are available in a dazzling range of colours and shades, to suit the personality of your home. Although stair stains are ideal for adding colour, they have no protective qualities, so must also be covered with either an oil or a varnish to protect both the stain and the wood itself. Stains are easy to apply and are perfect for adding an amazing depth of colour to your spiral staircase. There are a range of tinted oils and varnishes available that combine the colouring properties of a stain, with the protection of an oil or varnish.

Stair Oil

Like a stain, a stair oil will slightly darken and enrich the grain of timber, but not to the same degree. You can get a rough idea for how much it will darken the wood by wiping it with a damp cloth. Stair oils are available in a range of sheen levels, with the most popular ones being satin, matte and gloss. An oil provides a more natural look and feel compared to a varnish, and has protective qualities making it ideal for stairs. Although an oil will need more regular upkeep, and reapplication, depending on level of usage, but it is easier to work with when it comes to spot repairs. There are also oils with anti-slip properties, adding an extra level of safety.

Wooden Spiral Staircase

Varnish for Stairs

Similar to an oil, a varnish will slightly darken the wood, and also comes in a range of sheens with the main ones being satin, matte and gloss. A varnish provides a hard wearing and durable finish, ideal for stairs with high levels of foot traffic, and even commercial stairs with extreme use. If applied well, a varnish can last from anywhere to 5 to 10 years, depending on the quality of the brand and number of coats applied. Although varnishes are much harder to repair, and you could be required to sand down the stairs completely and start again. As with oils, there are many products that come with anti-slip properties, and as well as some which are fire retardant.

Stair Paint

You may want to add a spot of colour to your stairs, by painting the whole thing or maybe just one part, stair paints are ideal for this. Though not all paints are suitable for stairs, most paints you buy for walls (or furniture) are not suitable for floor or stairs, due to the high level of foot traffic and wear they are required to withstand. Floor and stair paints are designed with this in mind, meaning they will not chip or fade easily.

A well designed spiral staircase is a beautiful thing, and by choosing the right finish you can help bring out its natural character, helping it become a part of your home. Remember, always do a test area, to see how the finish looks before completing the whole project. This can save you a lot of time and money.

This month’s guest blog is by Aedan Kiernan is a Digital Marketing Executive for Wood Finishes Direct, who are one of the UK’s largest suppliers of wood finishes and treatments, including eco paints and wood products.


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