How To Stain Oak Stair Treads

How To Stain Oak Stair Treads

Learn how to transform your oak stair treads with a beautiful stain and then enhance them with carpet stair treads. We will walk you through the process.

Learn how to transform your oak stair treads with a beautiful stain and then enhance them with carpet stair treads. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, of how to stain oak stair treads, to installing the carpet treads, providing you with all the information you need for a successful project.

Preparing the Oak Stair Treads for Staining   

Before starting your project, you need to decide if you are going to stain stair treads before or after installation. This will slightly affect the way you stain the treads. Before you begin the staining process, it's essential to prepare the oak stair treads properly. Here are the steps to follow:

Cleaning the Surface   

Start by thoroughly cleaning the oak stair treads to remove any dirt, dust, or debris. Use a wood cleaner or a mixture of water and mild soap to clean the surface. Ensure that the treads are completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Sanding the Treads   

Once the treads are clean and dry, sand the surface to remove any existing finish and to smooth out any imperfections. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually move to a finer grit for a smooth finish.

Applying Wood Conditioner   

After sanding, apply a wood conditioner to the oak treads. This will help the wood absorb the stain more evenly and reduce blotchiness. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the application and drying time of the wood conditioner.

Choosing the Right Stain for Oak Stair Treads   

When it comes to choosing the right stain for your oak stair treads, there are a few factors to consider.

Understanding Different Types of Wood Stains   

There are various types of wood stains, including oil-based, water-based, gel stains, and more. Each type has its own characteristics and application methods, so it's essential to choose the one that best suits your project and preferences.

Selecting the Appropriate Stain Color   

Consider the existing color scheme of your space and the desired end result when selecting a stain color. For red oak treads, popular stain colors include golden oak, cherry, and dark walnut.

Testing the Stain on a Small Area   

Before applying the stain to the entire oak tread, it's crucial to test it on a small, inconspicuous area. This will allow you to see how the color looks on the wood and make any necessary adjustments before proceeding with the entire project.

Staining the Oak Stair Treads   

Once you have chosen the right stain, it's time to apply it to the oak stair treads.

Applying the First Coat of Stain   

Using a brush or a clean cloth, apply the first coat of stain in the direction of the wood grain. Ensure even coverage and wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth. The best way to stain stair treads is by going with the grain, not against it.

Sanding Between Coats (if Necessary)   

Depending on the type of stain and the desired color depth, you may need to sand the treads lightly between coats to achieve a smooth finish.

Applying Additional Coats for Desired Color Depth   

If the first coat is not dark enough, apply additional coats of stain until you achieve the desired color depth. Be sure to allow proper drying time between coats.

Sealing the Stained Oak Stair Treads   

After the stain has dried completely, it's important to seal the oak stair treads to protect the finish and enhance durability.

Choosing the Right Sealant   

Select a high-quality polyurethane sealant that is suitable for high-traffic areas. Consider the level of sheen you prefer, such as satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss.

Applying the Sealant   

Apply the sealant using a brush or a clean cloth, following the wood grain. Ensure even coverage and allow the sealant to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Allowing Proper Drying Time   

Allow the sealant to dry completely before walking on the stairs or installing the carpet treads.

Installing Carpet Stair Treads   

Once the oak stair treads are stained and sealed, you can enhance them with carpet stair treads for added comfort and style.

Measuring the Stair Treads   

Measure each stair tread carefully to ensure the carpet treads fit properly. Consider whether you want the oak treads to be visible around the edges of the carpet treads or completely covered.

Choosing the Right Carpet Treads   

Select carpet treads that complement your existing decor and provide the desired level of comfort and traction.

Attaching the Carpet Treads Securely   

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to attach the carpet treads securely to the oak stair treads. This may involve using adhesive strips or double-sided carpet tape for a secure fit.

Maintaining Stained Oak Stair Treads and Carpet Stair Treads   

To ensure the longevity and beauty of your stained oak stair treads and carpet stair treads, it's important to establish a regular maintenance routine.

Cleaning and Maintaining the Stained Oak Treads   

Regularly dust and vacuum the stained oak treads to remove dirt and debris. Periodically clean them with a wood cleaner and reapply the sealant as needed to maintain the finish.

Cleaning and Caring for the Carpet Treads   

Vacuum the carpet treads regularly to keep them free of dirt and pet hair. For deeper cleaning, follow the manufacturer's instructions for spot cleaning or washing the carpet treads. 

Addressing Any Wear and Tear Issues   

Keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear on both the stained oak treads and the carpet treads. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and maintain the safety and appearance of your stairs.


Transforming your oak stair treads with a beautiful stain and enhancing them with carpet stair treads can add style, comfort, and durability to your staircase. By following this step-by-step guide, you can achieve professional-looking results and enjoy a stunning staircase for years to come. Whether you're a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a first-time homeowner, this project is a rewarding way to elevate the look and feel of your home.