Staining the mudroom stairs

The mudroom stairs are done, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

For a refresher, we have a tile floor in the new mudroom. There are two stairs up to the landing that leads into the kitchen, and each step is also tile.

Our contractor and I debated how to finish the edge of the stairs. On its own, tile doesn’t have an attractive edge. I didn’t want a rubber or metal nosing–too industrial or institutional. We also had to contend with the risers, which I did not want tiled.

Our contractor suggested wood and had his stair guy fabricate risers and nosings out of maple. They are beautiful. But they needed some kind of finish to protect them from scuffs and dirt and marks–this is a mudroom after all.

I tested a variety of stains. I wanted something that was a similar tone to the cedar on the ceiling. I also tested a grey with the idea of making the wood blend with the tile.

A commenter on my last post advised that maple “does not take a stain well and the stain often looks un-even.” He was right. Most of the samples did not look good at all.

The grey wasn’t bad, but I felt like the maple deserved to be highlighted. I know the trend is to have continuous flooring, not broken up by other materials, but the nosings are such a beautiful wood. I didn’t want to hide it under a grey wash.

The “Natural” stain was pretty subtle, but added a bit of brightness to the wood. So that’s what I went with.

I gave the stairs a good sanding, as they had gotten a bit dirty over the last few months. I taped off the the tile and baseboards. And I applied the stain.

After letting the stain dry, I then covered it with four coats of varathane, sanding lightly between each coat. I want as much protection on these stairs as possible.

The finish turned out really well. The colour is not an exact match to the cedar, but it’s close and I think it highlights the maple nicely. The surface seems pretty durable and is holding up to being stepped on multiple times a day, sometimes with shoes on.

I also feel really good crossing this task off my mudroom to-do list. Progress may be small and slow, but it’s progress.

Have you been able to cross anything off your to-do list recently? Do you have mixed flooring at your house? How do you mix tile and wood?

11 thoughts on “Staining the mudroom stairs

  1. Your stairs are absolutely beautiful Julia ! All your planning and hard work has paid off. I’m sure you and Ellie will have many years of enjoyment from your project.

    Happy Thanksgiving weekend too !

    Pam 🙋‍♀️

    Sent from my iPad

  2. I’m all for continuous colors/tones in flooring – it seems to expand the space. But there is a reason for contrasting or bright colors on the edges of steps – especially when there are only one or two. It is so easy to miss the edge and trip or fall.

    The mudroom looks great!

  3. Your mud room is beautiful Julia ! All your planning and hard work has paid off. I’m sure you and Ellie will enjoy it for years to come.

  4. I’m glad to learn that my maple staining advice helped. Your step risers look really look good. While maple is not the hardest wood, it should hold up well. But, its location will get a lot of abuse through normal traffic. Don’t wait for the finish to get so bad that a complete refinishing is required. As needed, a surface sanding and a coat of clear finish should provide a lifetime of attractive use. Job well done.

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