How to Sand Your Staircase


Preparing for the installation of a new flooring is an essential part of stair refurbishment. Sanding down stairs is the best way to remove the old coating. Here are the steps:

First, remove any tack strips and staples from stairs that were carpeted previously. If they are difficult to remove, you can hammer them down below the surface. To fill in cracks or holes, use wood putty and let dry.

You can tackle large stair components like treads or risers with a sanding device (be sure to wear a dust mask, safety glasses, and safety glasses). There are many types to choose from:

  • Belt sanding machine is ideal for large flat areas such as staircase treads
  • Random orbital sanding machines – can be used to smoothen a wide range of surfaces, both flat and slightly curved.
  • Detail sanding machine – suitable for light sanding of small spaces and corners
  • Sheet orbital sanding machines – great for light-duty jobs and corners

Belt sanding machine

The sandpaper belt turns on rollers at both ends of the machine to make this powerful tool. This tool is great for large flat surfaces and heavy-duty tasks that require speed, not finesse. This makes it ideal for sanding down stairs treads and risers. Be careful for beginners, as you could easily damage the surface if not careful.

To smoothen the surface, start with a coarse belt 40 to 60 grits. Next, switch to finer 120 and 180 grit belts. For a consistent result, sand parallel to the wood grain. Keep the machine moving at all times. You only need to apply light pressure, so the tool’s weight will do the rest.

Random orbital sanding machine

This type is popular with DIY users, carpenters, joiners, and others. It is also the easiest to use.

This tool uses a circular abrasive disk that vibrates and rotates at high speed. The disc moves in an irregular (elliptical) orbit which means that it never travels the same route twice. This virtually eliminates the possibility of leaving swirl marks. It can be used for fine and coarse finishing work by attaching different grades.

Use long, overlapping strokes to sand. Keep the tool moving at all times. To avoid swirls, hold the tool at a level surface and use light pressure. You can start by practicing on scrap wood if you are new to sanding.

Finishing the sanding machine

This is also known as a sheet orbital-sanding machine. It is an excellent choice for beginners because it is not likely to cause damage to the work surface. This tool uses square or rectangular sheets of sandpaper that are attached to a vibrating spinning plate.

It is small, lightweight, and simple to use. The square base plate allows it to reach corners.

Detail sanding machine

A detail sander machine is lightweight and compact. It has a triangular base plate that allows you to reach small spaces or difficult-to-reach areas. This machine is ideal for precise jobs such as sanding corners of treads or risers.

Don’t expect miracles. This machine is not designed for heavy-duty tasks. You will need to be careful. For a uniform finish, move the tool slowly and evenly across the surface. Avoid pressing too hard.

Sanding spindles

A machine won’t be much help if you are near the spindles. Wrap strips of sandpaper around shafts and pull them backwards and forwards. For intricately-shaped stair parts, you may need to use a chemical paint stripper.

Sanding can be hard work. You can remove all traces of the old coating from spindles, but you may need to replace them with new ones. It will save you a lot of time and effort.