Water Based Stain for Stair Treads

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JoanneS's picture
Joined: 2011-09-29 16:14
Water Based Stain for Stair Treads
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Has anyone had success with water based stain on stair treads? This year we want to replace our yucky carpet on the stairs and I want to go with the dark treads with white risers. I'm really sensitive to the oil base finish smell, so I want to do this with a water base product. Any recommendations on a good one to use for stairs? Thanks!

designsbystudioc's picture
Joined: 2012-04-18 19:03
General Finishes wood stain

General Finishes wood stain is pretty good - very low odor, easy cleanup, and it doesn't dry too quickly. Rust-Oleum's Ultimate Wood Stain is pretty great, too. I'm not sure if it is totally water-based but it is very low odor and dries nicely. The Minwax water-based stains dry way too quickly and I have never had good luck with them! Hope this helps!

Cher-Ann Texter

claydowling's picture
Joined: 2011-01-26 17:28
Top coating

I'll second the recommendation for General Finishes stains. They use a really good pigment and put it in a thin water borne polyurethane. It's what I did when I made my own stain.

You also need to put a top coat on the stairs, because the stains themselves don't protect the wood, just color it. I like the General Finishes water based polyurethane for the ease of getting a good finish. For protection though I like the Varathane products. They're a little thick and pick up brush strokes, but they have thinning instructions on them. Stick to the instructions and you'll get good results. I find it considerably easier to get good results with the Varathane oil based polyurethane, especially if I thin it 1:1.

No matter which finish you choose, make sure everything is well ventilated. Oil based fumes make you light headed, but I've found that the solvent in the water borne finishes causes lung congestion. The solvent, ethylene glycol, is in fairly small quantities, but it's still not tame stuff.