By Gene and Katie Hamilton
In a busy household, a staircase gets traffic from dawn to dusk. So scheduling a downtime to work on a damaged one might be the biggest challenge. Damage can range from worn finish to loose spindles or a wobbly baluster. Do not ignore these warning signs, because the damage will only get worse.
In our experience, it's best to divide the work, making the repairs first and then completing the job by cleaning the wood and refinishing where needed to make everything as good as new. To tighten loose stair treads and balusters, use finishing nails; to secure a newel post or handrail, use lag or wood screws. For a cracked stair tread, use a heavy-body epoxy designed for wood to repair the joint and fill the crack. A good cleaning might be all that's needed to rejuvenate a slightly damaged finish or for one that's dirty. But on bare wood where the finish has worn away, you'll need to sand and refinish the surfaces with a good quality polyurethane finish.
Most moderately worn wood stairs can be spruced up in a couple of days. A floor refinisher will charge $450 to do the job, which includes labor and material; but you can do it for $120, the cost of materials, and save 73 percent. You'll need a combination of hand and power carpentry tools, a vacuum with a crevice tool, and refinishing materials that include rags, steel wool, sandpaper, brushes, paint thinner, and polyurethane finish.
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The average price to renew a staircase noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself. Tweak the data by adding your ZIP Code to find a local cost.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020