Wooden stairs offer a distinctive, beautiful look to any home. But taking care of the stairs can sometimes prove difficult. This is especially true if you are not using the right products to restore or finish the stairs. Varnish, for example, can lead to difficult complications when it comes to restore the stairs, which is why oil is often the absolute best choice.


However, many people still choose to apply varnish on their wooden stairs. In many cases, this is the fastest way to finish the stairs and protect them from wear and tear. Since varnish dries quickly, it’s often difficult for homeowners to apply evenly. Dark streaks are often noticeable, which take away from the beauty and refinement of wooden stairs. Because of this, homeowners often choose to hire a professional to varnish the stairs, which means higher costs and greater inconvenience.

When it comes to protecting and finishing wooden stairs, oil is the best choice for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most significant benefits of oiling your wooden stairs:


Products like Kunos oil for wood are a great option for oiling your wooden stairs. If you use it instead of varnish while your stairs are still in good condition, you can save yourself a significant amount of work in the future. While both methods require an initial job of sanding and preparing the stairs, the biggest difference is in the maintenance. Oiling only requires one-time sanding to prepare the wood and then you never have to sand again. If you ever choose to re-varnish your stairs, you must do the entire process over again every single time.


Varnish is a chemical that sits on top of the wood, essentially sealing it from external factors. Oil is a product that is created to be absorbed in the wood and preserve it naturally. This means that proper maintenance and regular oiling would result in never needing to sand your stairs again. Not needing to sand the stairs preserves the integrity, the look, and means there is no degradation of the surface over time.

That in-depth impregnation allows the wood to retain its natural properties, such as breathing, remaining flexible, and creating a better texture that you can still feel. Varnish eliminates the pleasant wood grain texture because it actually sits on top of the stairs. However, oil for wood, by penetrating the wood instead of covering it, preserves the lovely wood characteristics.


Provided you use the right cleaning agents, oiled stairs are very easy to clean, and they maintain a much more natural look compared to varnish. If you want to see the wood itself, and you don’t like the sheen and reflective surface created by a layer of varnish, oil for wood is definitely for you. Oiled stairs are also ideal for homeowners who want easy maintenance since properly maintaining your oiled stairs means you only need to sand it once in its lifetime. With wood varnish, sanding and repairs are required every time you need to re-varnish the stairs. Oil only requires one initial sanding job before the first oil application and that’s it!

However you must make sure you use the correct cleaner. For stairs treated with oil, you must use a pH neutral cleaner. Regular household cleaners may contain a degreaser agent, which, when applied to oiled stairs, will actually attack the oil in the stairs.


The perfect circumstances for putting oil in stairs would be to apply everything to the wood and then assemble your stairs afterward. Obviously, for a lot of homeowners, this won’t be an option, since the stairs have already been installed in the home. However, the process for oiling stairs that are already assembled is also easy and painless. Unlike varnish that usually requires help from an experienced professional, oil can be applied by anyone. All you need to do is simply apply the oil and then rub off the extra. The results are professional-looking oiled stairs on a DIY budget!

We recommend that if you would like to use oil for your stairs, simply “alternate.” Apply the oil to every second step, and then allow it to dry. This will take between 12-14 hours. Once the first set of steps is oiled, you can apply the wood oil to the remaining steps, and this way retain access to half of your stairway until everything is complete.


One of the best parts of having oiled stairs is that you enjoy more traction, and a pleasant wood grain texture under your feet, it’s easy to replenish the oil. With varnish, if you find the coat is wearing thin, you’ll have to re-sand the stairs to get rid of the old coat and apply a new one.

With oiled stairs, the only thing you need to do is apply more oil on the stairs! No additional prep work is required other than making sure the stairs are clean, yet you restore the look of the stairs and further treat it so it can enjoy more years of protection and reliability for your home. If you’re still unsure which wood finishing is right for you, please download our comprehensive comparative guide to oil, wax, and varnish for help making the right decision.

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