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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    26

    Default Restoring an old staircase

    My friends just moved into a house that was built in 1909 and I'm helping them fix it up. There's carpeting on the stairs and from what we could see there was a beautiful wooden staircase under the carpet, but when we started to pull it up we found at least two steps that are totally gone and were replaced with pressboard. We want to restore the staircase to it's former glory, but are a little unsure about exactly how to go about it.
    Can you all offer some pointers on matching the type of wood and staining it? I think it's oak just from the looks of it, but I'm not sure.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Needham, MA
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    559

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    chances are that it is oak, but it could be red oak or white oak, white would be my best guess from that time period. what you can do it purchase any size 1x of white oak, like a 1x3 or a 1x4, bring it home and find some stains that come close to it and do a little trial and error until you find a good match. but also, if the entire staircase is going to be refinished, just match the type of wood, install the new stair treads and stain everything the same and you should have a good match.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    26

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    Will the age of the wood make any difference in the stain? My friends tried to match up a floor and stain it in a previous house and part of it wound up an orangy colour while the rest of it was a dark brown. I think it's because the wood types didn't match, they say it's because they added new to a hundred year old floor. Any idea who's right?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherMacCloud View Post
    Will the age of the wood make any difference in the stain? My friends tried to match up a floor and stain it in a previous house and part of it wound up an orangy colour while the rest of it was a dark brown. I think it's because the wood types didn't match, they say it's because they added new to a hundred year old floor. Any idea who's right?
    Both may be correct. A different species of wood will handle stain differently than another. Quarter sawed and flat sawed would handle stain differently. Old wood that has been striped may have a tighter grain than new or may still have some of the old finish in the grain. The best thing to do is to strip the old, stain it if you want, then try different stains to get the new to match the old before the finish is applied. You will probably need several pieces of scrap to test on. This sometimes requires mixing your own stain. If a different wood is used this is difficult but not impossible.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    Both may be correct. A different species of wood will handle stain differently than another. Quarter sawed and flat sawed would handle stain differently. Old wood that has been striped may have a tighter grain than new or may still have some of the old finish in the grain. The best thing to do is to strip the old, stain it if you want, then try different stains to get the new to match the old before the finish is applied. You will probably need several pieces of scrap to test on. This sometimes requires mixing your own stain. If a different wood is used this is difficult but not impossible.
    Jack
    I don't know if this makes a difference, but the floors in question were sanded and not stripped chemically. The reason I think they're two different woods is because the new section matched a bottle of orange soda almost to a T, the old section was more a reddish brown. They weren't even anywhere near the same colour. One was dark and mostly brown, the other was light and looked like someone's hair that had lost a fight with a bottle of peroxide.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    That sounds almost like a hard wood and a soft wood. As an extreme example if you put a dark stain like walnut on white oak it would soak up very little and be a little orange in color but if you used the same stain on pine it would come out almost black. I should point out that there are some woods that it is better to use a dye on rather than stain.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Restoring an old staircase

    I don't know what wood they used for sure. Just that they used the grain pattern to match it up. Also, the wood they used wasn't made for flooring, it was just regular planks the same width with a matching grain.

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