Restaining a moldy wooden staircase

I made a simple wooden staircase about 2 years ago and finished it with creosote. Creosote is not exactly my first option when it comes to wood preservatives, but I had a half-empty can lying around my garage so decided to use it up. Nowadays, there are many eco-friendly stains and wood preservatives that are still very effective – which I would normally choose over creosote – but…I also don’t like wasting.

So anyway, I splattered my staircase with the oily junk and although it was doing its job for the first year or so, as with anything, it started to wear off and mold started to set in. So I decided it was about time I did something about it. Here’s what I did. I’ll

Staircase being stained

be outlining some simple steps for the sake of anyone who may need to tackle a similar job.

1. Scrub down as much of the staircase as possible, removing any dirt and mold that may have made their homes there. This will also scrub away any loose or flaky material from the previous stain job. Pay additional attention to the stair treads – the part where people step. Rinse it well and let it dry for at least 24 hours. Needless to say, check the weather forecast and make sure you have clear weather lined up.

*Note that performing this step well – as well as using quality stain – can make the difference between your new staircase finish lasting 2 months or 2 years!

2. Alright, now that the staircase is bone-dry, you should see a

Shot of restained staircase

considerable difference in how the surface of your staircase looks. Depending on how old it is, it could still look relatively new, or it could have a somewhat “distressed” look to it. Cool either way! But whether it looks new or “distressed”, the idea is to preserve it, so we’ll do just that. Take your stain and brush or roll it on. Be generous with your stain, and let a good amount soak right into the wood.

3. You should apply at least 2 coats, and parts that incur direct rainfall, like your treads and any horizontal surfaces of your staircase, as well as any grain “ends”, should be given additional coats. Remember to wait the specified interval between coats.

And you’re done! A very simple job for any home owner to do on his or her own, regardless of age or experience. Just be sure that the stain you use is OK to use on outdoor applications. Now go enjoy your new staircase!


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