Refinishing plywood stairs

Q: I pulled up my carpet on the steps in my split foyer, and I found what looks like plywood. I tried to sand, stain, and poly it but I cannot get a smooth finish all over. What can I do to fix this?

Also, I would like to take the paint off the handrails and finish them as well. How do I do this?

A: You will likely need several coats of finish, lightly sanding between each coat. Make sure all dust is removed before brushing on another thin coat. Use a chemical stripper and a lot of elbow grease on the handrail.

Staining plywood stairs?

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: We have a townhouse with plywood construction. We were thinking of sanding both the flat and riser of the stair and possibly staining the flat, and painting the riser. This, however, would leave scuff marks on the riser from shoes, etc. A friend of ours has also suggested that as the plywood is not a solid wood in nature, each stair might develop uneven wear spots in the main traffic area.

A: Rather than staining plywood, why not do something funky like paint them and then add a stencil? That way they will look much different than just plywood.

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