How to Waterproof Wooden Stairs

  • 4-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 75-250
What You'll Need
Nylon paintbrush
Metal can
Mineral oil
Linseed oil
Tack cloth
Paint stripper (optional)
Paint scraper (optional)
Paintbrush (optional)
Rubbing alcohol (optional)

Wooden stairs are typically a feature seen with homes that have pools, hot tubs, decks or raised porches. Water is not the friend of your wooden stairs and will destroy them over time. The only way to protect your wooden stairs is by waterproofing them. Waterproofing your wooden stairs won't only protect them from water but also some insects like carpenter bees. The following article will show you not only how to waterproof your wooden stairs but to do it green.

Step 1 - Preparing the Wooden Stairs

If the wooden stairs have been painted then you're in for a long and drawn out process. First, apply paint stripper to the stairs with a paintbrush. Test the paint on the wooden stairs by applying a small amount of the rubbing alcohol to them. If the paint wipes off then the paint on them is latex based. You will need a paint stripper made with latex in mind. If the paint does not wipe off then the paint used is oil based. If there are more than two layers of paint then you need to use a thick paint stripper. Apply the stripper and wait several days then scrape the paint off the wooden stairs. You may need to repeat this several times.

If the stairs are plain or stained then the preparation is much simpler. Use the sander and sand the wooden stairs down slightly to remove the stain from the surface or just to texturize the surface if the wooden stairs are natural. Once the paint is removed from the wooden stairs you will also want to sand them down. After sanding you can use the tack cloth to clean away any dust you created.

Step 2 - Stain the Wooden Stairs

You can leave your wooden stairs bare if you like but staining and then waterproofing the wooden stairs will make for a beautifully finished product. Use an exterior wood stain and stir it from the bottom of the can. Dip the rag into the stain and wipe it onto the wooden stairs. Before the stain is dry wipe it off with a clean rag. Sand the surface lightly and wipe off with a tack cloth then stain again. Repeat this process until the wooden stairs are as dark as you want them to be.

Step 3 - Make the Sealant

Going green is using natural products on a natural product. You can create a waterproof sealer for the wooden stairs that will rival costly manufactured varieties. Combine 1 gallon of boiled linseed oil with 2 gallons of low-odor mineral spirits into a bucket. Use a stirrer to combine the two products. One gallon of this mixture will cover 300 square feet of wood.

Step 4 - Waterproofing the Wooden Stairs

There are no special methods to waterproofing the wooden stairs. Use a nylon brush and apply the sealant liberally over the wooden stairs. Do not neglect the back of the wooden stairs.