Monday, January 7, 2013

Refinishing the Stairs Part 1: Sanding Up a Storm

While much of the country was experiencing blizzard like conditions the week after Christmas, Chris and I decided to create a little blizzard of our own. A sawdust blizzard, that is.
My big plan for our hallway involves refinishing the stair treads a darker color, so stripping and sanding the existing finish off was in order.  Refinishing a wood floor isn't something I've ever done before, but I was fearless. As you can see from the before photo, we really didn't have much to lose.

We got a late start on the first day, then wasted a few hours using an orbital sander and a belt sander. The belt sander was doing it's thing, but the orbital sander (which we were using to hit the areas the belt sander couldn't reach) was hardly making a dent. We decided to switch to Citristrip, a chemical stripper.
We applied it to the stair treads, banister, and newel posts, then called it a day to let the stripper work its magic overnight.
The following morning we used scrapers to remove the stripper. See those pale yellow areas? That's as far as we got with the belt sander the previous day.
 This time the orbital sander worked like a charm.
Looking good, right?
Now, don't think that I just sat back and took all the photos while Chris did all the hard work. 

I spent hours stripping the banister and the newel posts. The newel posts were especially difficult because of all the little grooves. 
 By the end of the second day, my fingers were permanently stuck in the pose in the above photo, but I was quite pleased with the results. Between the freshly skimcoated walls and our unfinished staircase, our 125 year old house looks like a new build.
Smells great too! All that sawdust has a pleasing scent of a lumber yard.
Someone should make a candle and call it "Lumber Yard". I'd buy it.

Of course, we still need to apply stain and polyurethane, but we're going to hang the molding and paint the walls first. Lots more to come!

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