Step up to glory—Give your stairs a makeover

Miriam Damache Miriam Damache
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When your home has stairs going up to the second floor or the mezzanine, it will eventually incur damage from prolonged use. There are various damage types that can wear down stairs such as water or humidity infiltration, natural wear made over time, faulty materials or a bad first hand installation. The most common one is time, where going up and down the stairs over a time period of many years will require that some steps to be replaced or in the worst case, for the staircase to be completely changed altogether. Certain issues require different repairing methods that will insure the longevity of the quite useful staircase. When an entirely new staircase is needed, many styles and material types are offered in building stores. Staircases can be built in metal, wood, concrete, plexiglass and sometimes  built with a mix of the aforementioned materials. However the following article will focus on the wooden stairs which is the most commonly used type of material for a staircase.

Deep scratches and broken surfaces

If one lives in a house that sees a lot of action and where a big family lives, the staircase is bound to see much traffic. Henceforth, the stairs will probably have scratches and broken surfaces that will need to be repaired at some point. When that happens, one must verify if the damage is apparent mainly on one, a few steps or the entire staircase. The reason for that is quite simple, staircases are not cheap; if the foundation and support beams are still in good condition, there is no need to spend so much money by replacing everything. After assessing if the damage is superficial or more within the foundation, the repairing can begin. If it is only damage to one or only a few steps on the outer part of the stairs, then only a few measures need to be undertaken. The best option for scratches would be to sand down the faulty steps, followed by a good polishing and varnishing. This will ensure the stairs to keep for an extended period of time.

Colour wearing out

Depending on the overall look of the stairs, the type of wood used, the paint layer, the varnish or polishing job, several ideas can come into play to fix the wearing out of the colour. If the wearing out is minimal, then an extra layer of paint should do the trick. Making sure that a special type of paint is chosen to repaint is important since there is a wide amount of paint types that can serve for the walls, the ceiling, for outdoors, metal or concrete. That explains why a paint that is meant especially to be stepped on and meant for high traffic will be the appropriate type to use. If the varnish is wearing out, the same solution should apply while also making sure it is the right type of varnish that will be able to sustain high usage. On the other hand, if the paint job is wearing out, it will be required to verify if the damage carved an inward dent. If that is the case, maybe a new step would do the trick. If that is not the case, why not repaint the entire staircase in a lively colour that would suit everyone's taste?

Damaged steps

mr sajeev kumar s residence at girugambakkam, near m.i.o.t hospital, chennai ,tamilnadu:  Corridor & hallway by Muraliarchitects
Muraliarchitects

mr sajeev kumar s residence at girugambakkam, near m.i.o.t hospital, chennai ,tamilnadu

Muraliarchitects

Are the stairs hollow like in the image shown here? Or are they fully cased-in stairs or maybe even a little of both? This is the question to ask before staring any renovations on the stairs. By knowing the type of staircase, then it is possible to move on the the initial architectural plan and blue print of the stairs to understand how it has been built and where the foundation and support beams are located. Once that is known, it will be much easier to know if a damaged step can be completely replaced or if only the top part of the step should be changed. Normally, stairs are well built since they are meant to last for at least 20 years so this idea should facilitate renovating the stairs. In most cases they are built in a way that one step, if damaged can easily be replaced. In some cases however, especially if it is regarding much older staircases, it would be better to consult a professional that works in this field to evaluate the staircase. This design has been made possible by Muraliarchitects.

Knocked edges

A major problem that arrises over time is knocked edges or used out edges of the steps. The edges can also become rounded off in the middle section where it sees the most traffic. In this situation a quick fix is to install a metal guard that will be placed on the edge to avoid further damage until the staircase needs to be completely replaced. The advantage of that metal guard is that it will add grip for the staircase making it safer and less easy to fall off the stairs. Another solution, is to cover the stairs with a long river carpet that will cover as well as greatly protect the staircase. It will make the stepping up the stairs much more comfortable for the feet and less slippery than with bare wood. These options, of course, will have a good impact on the durability of the stairs, however if the damage is extensive, it might be better to check in with a professional builder that will asses the state of the stairs and confirm whether or the not the staircase needs to be replaced. It is important also not to let this kind of damage go unnoticed because there is nothing more slippery than rounded of steps that don't offer grip and where an accident can happen at any time.

Creaking stairs

The image shown here is of stairs incased in a metal frame which will, over a certain period of time, start creaking and crackling. This is quite normal for every wooden staircase. In the case of the one shown in the image, the continued contact of the wood against the metal might cause wear in the joints and damage the overall structure of this staircase, but that would happen only after a very long period of time. Staircases, nowadays are built very sturdily and new technologies permit the usage of lighter and less expensive materials, so having a fully cased-in staircase like in the olden days, might become quite costly and harder to find. Unfortunately, nothing really survives the test of time, but with the new designs offered for stairs today, their longevity has been largely increased. If the stairs are quite old and creaking that is a normal sign of age and of the wood getting drier over the years. If a step creaks very loudly and feels like it is caving in then it should be looked at and replaced.

This is what safe wooden stairs should look like

A staircase can be a dangerous area of the home, if it is not properly maintained. It should be maintained and inspected once in a while to make sure no new cracks or some kind of damage has appeared. After all, ensuring the safety of all the loved ones in the home is always the priority of every homeowner. Living in an easy, accessible and a safe place should not be taken for granted and making sure the stairs are in top condition should be a the very top of one's priority list. No one wants to fall down the stairs: ouch! 

Therefore, the requirements for a safe wooden staircase should be as such: strong and sturdy wood that has been especially treated, polished and varnished for high traffic. When treating the stairs, it is important to make sure the steps are not too slippery and that they offer some grip. If not, rubber lining can be added. Also, the ramp of the stairs should be firmly fixed and not hollow to prevent children from falling through. Last but not least, installing the staircase next to a window or under a bright light will provide the safest settings for all to enjoy.

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