Stairs don’t match newly installed hardwood floors in sheen

Q: We retained a flooring specialist to both refinish our circular stairs top and basement, and remove 2” old red oak floor throughout main floor and install 3 and 1/4 prefinished oak flooring, with a very flat satin finish. The stairs were carpeted so he installed oak treads and risers. We said from the beginning we wanted the floor and stairs to match.

He did the stairs first taking a sample of the floor to be installed and had the stairs stain prepared by a reputable stain company. The stain colour when applied to the treads and stairs was a very good match. However, the type and quantity of clear coat applications significantly reduced the match to the new hardwood floor when he applied the finish clear coats on the stairs. The sheen is too glossy compared to the satin sheen of the new hardwood. We told him to make sure that the stain colour AND sheen needed to match.

He says he was concerned that if not enough clear coat was applied it could be scratched. We said we don’t care about scratches and our main interest was a match. Now we are unhappy that the stairs don’t match the newly installed hardwood floors.

The question I have is, can he do something to remove or reduce the stairs clear coat and sheen? If so, will that bring back the match to the original point where the stain coat alone matched really well? Can he then apply a very thin clear coat that produces a very matte satin finish as we originally requested?

A: This is an easy one to answer because I am hearing an old but false idea that the more coats of finish that are applied, the more shiny the finish will be. This is totally false. The shine or lack thereof is determined by the final coat of finish, whether it be gloss (it will be shiny), Semi-gloss (shiny but less so), satin (a low shine, looking more like polish) and matte or super matte (which are dead flat). All that needs to be done is to have the stair coating thoroughly buffed down with a fine sand paper and a satin finish applied if that is the finish on the pre finished oak. I would recommend Poloplaz Primero or Supreme satin. Especially Primero. Every finish less than gloss needs to be stirred to mix the paste that remove the shine. Primero keeps the paste pretty much suspended in the finish so not much stirring is needed for consistent results.

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