How to Maintain Indoor and Outdoor Wooden Staircases


A beautiful wooden staircase adds class and a unique style to your home. It’s also a good investment as it adds value if you ever decide to sell. However, wooden stairs although naturally durable, require more care than stairs made from other materials. So, if you’re thinking about installing a wooden staircase in your interior or exterior area, you must know how to maintain it. It’s only through proper maintenance that will keep it looking its best for a long time.

Maintenance of Indoor Wooden Staircase

 Before you start cleaning your wooden staircase, find out the sealant used on the wood so that you use the appropriate cleaner. If the wooden stairs have a surface finish, usually polyurethane sealant is used and there’s a shine on the surface. If its a penetrating finish, the sealant used is an oil or wax and there’s a matte look on the wood.

Start by sweeping off the dust and debris with a dust mop or a frayed-tipped broom. Begin with the topmost stair and work your way to the bottom. Then slightly dampen your micro-fibre mop with plain water and wipe the stairs. With a soft rag, immediately dry up the stairs to avoid water absorption into the wood. Next, use a large amount of cleaning solution on a micro-fibre mop and wipe all the stairs individually. Wait for a few minutes until the cleaning solution gets soaked. After this, take a large dry rag and wipe all the stairs for the third time.

Maintenance of Outdoor Wooden Staircase

 Outdoor wooden stairs are exposed to heat, moisture, dust and other elements. It’s more prone to wear and tear, and algae growth or mildew. Make sure to thoroughly clean and seal the surface of your outdoor stairs once every 1-3 years.

Cleaning outdoor wooden staircase is same as cleaning your indoor stairs. Sweep off the stairs and deck with a dust mop thoroughly. Then use a pressure washer to remove stubborn dirt from the crevices. You can get a pressure washer from your local hardware store.

For outdoor stairs, the cleaning solution needs to be stronger. You can use an all-purpose kitchen cleaning solution. Apply the solution on the deck and the stairs with a mop or a scrubbing brush. After you’re done with the cleaning, rinse it off with a pressure washer, dry off with a clean rag and then allow it to dry naturally for 36-48 hours. When completely dry, apply a sealant on the deck and stairs to protect them from external elements.

However, if there is a growth of algae or mildew on the outdoor stairs, don’t use a pressure washer as it can erode the wood. To remove the algae, scrape it off with a putty knife. Then scrub the affected area with a coarse steel wool soaked in mild soap mixed with warm water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. You can also use oxygen bleach to remove algae. Oxygen bleach doesn’t harm the colour and the health of the wood. Mix powdered oxygen bleach in warm water as per the instructions of the manufacturer and apply the solution on the stairs. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Then scrub off with a brush and rinse with the help of a garden hose. Wipe it dry with a clean rag and after a few hours, apply a synthetic resin sealant.

Some More Tips

  • Dust wooden stairs regularly.
  • Avoid leaving liquid spills on the wood for too long.
  • Use rugs at the entrances to keep away minute pieces of gravel from the bottom of the shoes. They can otherwise cause dents and scratches on the surface of the wood.
  • Use furniture caps or foam padding when moving furniture up or down the stairs.
  • Keep a watchful eye for creaking treads, damaged spindles and splinters. Don’t delay in fixing them.
  • Don’t forget to protect against termites. Contact the exterminator to get your wooden stairs treated immediately and sign up for an annual maintenance.

Wooden stairs are an excellent choice for your home. Proper care will make them last for years. Now that you know how to maintain your indoor and outdoor wooden stairs, keeping them in top shape will be easy!

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