Sanding stair treads is a little different than other sanding projects you may have worked on, but don’t let this scare you. There are a few things you will need to take into consideration, but the process should go smoothly if you keep these few things in mind.
Stair treads are a small space to work with. You may be thinking of this as a good thing, but it means that a minor mistake will be much more noticeable. Always take your time and sand with care.
You will need to use equipment that is accommodating to more detailed craftsmanship. Look for a quality model sander that is capable of handling the job, but not too powerful. A typical floor sander will be too aggressive. A sander that is easy to control and that can maneuver small corners and crooks is ideal and quite necessary. If your sander slips because it is difficult to control, you may end up damaging your tread and needing to replace it. This will cost you what you tried to save on the sander.
Also, keep in mind that you are sanding on different elevations. To ensure your safety as you are making your way down the stairs, constantly be adjusting your position to the most comfortable. It will be easiest to begin from the top and work your way down. Standing on freshly sanded treads may damage your hard work. Also, freshly sanded treads are very slippery and may cause you to slip.
Use drop cloths for nearby furniture and structures to protect them from sanding dust, old paint, or varnish. When sanding be aware of how much you are actually sanding away. The old finish must be removed, but the shape of the stairs must not be changed. Over sanding the wood can cause unnecessary rounding of edges.
Sand all the way down to the bare wood if you are varnishing. If you are planning to paint, sand several times.
Even the smallest piece of wood can do serious harm to the eyes, so be sure to use gloves, goggles, and a mask to protect your hands and face. Keep splinters far away from your fingers with a good pair of gloves.
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