How to Finish Plywood Stairs

Finishing a plywood stair is important for several reasons. It will help protect the wood from warping, cracking, and other damage caused by exposure to moisture and temperature changes. Additionally, it will enhance the overall look of your stairs, making them much more attractive to your guests. The advantages of finishing plywood stairs are that they look much more attractive than raw wood, can be painted or stained to match another décor in the home, and are generally easier to install. 

How to Finish Plywood Stairs

Plywood stairs also require far less maintenance than solid wood staircases because they are already sealed against moisture damage and rot. Additionally, the layered construction of the plywood makes it very durable, meaning that the stairs should last for years without needing any major repairs. In this blog post, You will learn in detail how to finish plywood stairs.

Step-by-Step Processes for How to Finish Plywood Stairs: 

Step 1: Inspect  the Stairs

Carefully inspect the stairs to check for any potential problems, such as missing steps, free-floating nails, or uneven surfaces. Thoroughly clean the stairs with a vacuum and then sand the entire surface using an orbital sander.  Make sure to clean up any dust and debris after sanding.

Step 2: Prime and Paint the Stairs 

Apply a coat of primer to all surfaces of the stairs and let it dry before applying two coats of paint in your desired color. Make sure not to forget to paint the stringers, risers, treads, stair nose, and, if applicable, the balustrade.

Step 3: Install Stair Treads and Risers 

Install the stair treads and risers over the stairs. Make sure they are tightly secured to the stairs using screws or nails driven into the plywood. Then add a layer of glue on top of each tread and riser for extra security.

Step 4: Install the Stair Nosing and Balustrade

Install the stair nosing on the edges of each tread and then secure it to the plywood using screws or nails. If your stairs have a balustrade, install it using screws or nails driven into the plywood as well. Caulk any gaps or seams around the edges of the treads, risers, and stair nosing. Use a damp cloth to remove any excess caulk.

Install the Stair Nosing

Step 5: Sand and Seal the Stairs 

Sand the stairs again with 220-grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for sealing. Apply a quality sealer to the stairs and let it dry completely before continuing. If desired, you can install carpet on each step of the stairs. Make sure to secure it tightly using staples or nails so that it does not come loose with use.

Step 6: Install Skirting or Trim 

To give the stairs a more finished look, install skirting or trim along each edge of the stairs. This can be done with mitered pieces of wood that are nailed into the plywood. If desired, install the handrail and balusters along each side of the stairs. Secure them to the stringers with screws or nails driven into the plywood.

With a little time and effort, you can create an attractive and sturdy set of stairs that will last for years.

How Often Should You Reseal Painted or Stained Stairs to Keep Them Looking New? 

Depending on the finish used, stairs should be resealed at least every two years to keep them looking new. Painted stairs can be touched up and resealed more frequently than stained stairs, as a freshly applied stain will have an uneven appearance until it is completely dry. For stained plywood stairs, you should use a sealer or topcoat that is designed for exterior use and reapply it every two to three years, depending on how much wear the stairs experience.

A sealer will help protect the plywood underneath from water damage while providing a durable finish. When resealing painted or stained stairs, always start with a clean surface by using a wood cleaner, mild detergent, and a soft brush to remove dirt and debris. Make sure the surface is completely dry before applying any sealer or paint. Follow the directions on the product label for proper application techniques.

How Can You Protect the Stairs After Applying a Polyurethane Finish?

Quick care shoe cleaner is designed to keep your stairs looking like new. It can be used on any type of staircase, including wood, carpet, and tile. To use quick care shoe cleaner, simply spray it onto the stained area and wipe it away with a clean cloth. 

Keep Your Stairs Looking Like New

For best results, use quick care shoe cleaner daily. In addition to using a quick-care shoe cleaner, you can also protect your stairs by placing mats or rugs at the entrances to your home. This will help to catch dirt and debris before it has a chance to damage your newly finished stairs.

5 Safety Tips for How to Finish Plywood Stairs 

  1. Always wear safety glasses and a dust mask to protect your eyes and respiratory system when sanding or cutting plywood.
  2. Secure the stairs before starting any work on them. Make sure that all steps are firmly attached to the treads, risers, and railing for stability.
  3. Use an orbital sander for sanding the stairs. Start with a medium-grit sandpaper and work up to a finer one. Take care not to over sand any areas, which can cause damage.
  4. Apply primer before painting or staining the stairs for better adhesion and protection from water and other elements. After priming, paint or stain the stairs as desired.
  5. Apply a sealant or polyurethane to protect the finished product. This will help keep dirt and dust from damaging your newly refinished stairs. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying the sealant for best results.

Why Should You Need a Help From a Professional?

The Stairs Are Installed Correctly

When it comes to finishing plywood stairs, a few key considerations require a professional’s help. First, you must ensure that the stairs are properly sealed and sanded before any finish is applied. This will ensure that your finished product looks great and has no visible imperfections or blemishes. Second, ensuring that your finish is compatible with the plywood is important, as some finishes may not adhere well or be suitable for use on certain types of plywood.

Lastly, a professional can help you select the right type of finish for your stairs and ensure that it lasts for years to come without fading or chipping. Professional help can also ensure that the stairs are installed correctly and meet safety standards.

Additionally, a professional can help you select the best type of finish for your stairs. When it comes to finishes, there are generally two types of finishes available: water-based and oil-based. Water-based finishes are generally easier to apply but may not provide the same level of protection as an oil-based finish.

How Do You Clean and Maintain Finished Plywood Stairs? 

Once your plywood stairs have been finished, it is important to know how to clean and maintain them. To keep them looking their best, you should follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum the stairs regularly. A handheld vacuum or a brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner will work best. Be sure to get into all of the cracks and crevices, so dirt and debris don’t accumulate.
  2. Wipe down the stairs with a damp cloth or mop every week to eliminate any dirt and dust that has accumulated since your last vacuuming session.
  3. To remove stubborn stains, use an all-purpose cleaner on a cloth. Do not use anything abrasive, as this could damage the finish.
  4. If there are scuffs or scratches on your stairs, lightly sand them with extra fine sandpaper and then apply a touch of furniture polish to restore the shine and texture.
  5. To keep the stairs looking their best between cleanings, use a soft cloth to dust them.
Apply a Touch of Furniture Polish

Following these steps will make your finished plywood stairs look great and last for years. With regular maintenance, they should stay in good condition and continue providing a safe route up and down your home. 


The most obvious disadvantage to using plywood is that it’s not as durable and strong as other materials. Plywood tends to be more susceptible to water damage, rot, and warping, which can lead to structural issues over time; additionally, how plywood is cut means that there are weak spots along the grain that can cause splintering and cracking.

Finishing your plywood stairs is a great way to add a high-end touch to any space. With the right tools and materials, you can create a beautiful, durable stair system that will withstand years of wear and tear. From sanding down both surfaces of your plywood stairs before applying a finish to adding non-slip treads, there are many steps to consider when finishing plywood stairs. I hope this article has been beneficial in learning how to finish plywood stairs. Make Sure the precautionary measures are followed chronologically.

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Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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