Staining oak stairs dark

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Q: We moved into our new house about a year ago, and we are now ready to stain the oak stairs. We thought they were “conditioned” only, but now found out that they are “sealed”. I don’t think a top coat such as a polyurethane has been applied. What would be the best procedure to prep the stairs for staining? We want a dark brownish/black colour. Also, Should I condition the wood after sanding? Or is it doing the same as a damp cloth to open the pores?

A: Whatever coating was applied will need to be totally removed to bare wood. Conditioners are to help primarily the DIY person especially with certain woods like pine that tend to go blotchy when stained. They will cause the stain to be less dark. On oak, if you are using a dark colour the easiest way to achieve the true colour is to water pop first. When the wood is dry, apply stain with a cloth and wipe off excess in 5 minutes or so.

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