The first step in staining and painting stairs is removing items that are in the general vicinity of the staircase. This means furniture, rugs, decorative items, fixtures, etc. There will be a large amount of dust in the area after you’ve begun sanding away the old finish. Anything left nearby will be exposed to the dust and debris, and potentially paint or stain spills and splatters.
You will also want to seal off the area as much as possible so that dust doesn’t spread throughout your house. Cover adjacent doorways, vents and electrical outlets with plastic sheeting. Use masking tape to fasten the sheeting in place. Every opening should be closed or covered to avoid spreading dust throughout your home. Open nearby windows to ventilate and remove some of the dust and residue that will be in the air.
If your stairs have a carpet runner or are completely covered with carpet, you should remove it now. Loosen a corner of the carpet with pliers. Use a pry bar to pull up any stubborn pieces. Remove staples from the padding underneath with the pliers and discard both the carpet and the padding.
Wear heavy work gloves when removing carpet so that your hands are protected from tacks, staples and any other sharp objects that may have been used to secure the carpet.
Check each stair for any protruding nails, or if you pulled up carpet from the stairs, check for any carpet staples or tacks that you may have missed. Sharp objects such as these can destroy the sandpaper on a sander, forcing you to change it out. This will make the job longer than it needs to be. Using a hammer or nail setter, pound beneath the surface any nails you find. Thoroughly sweep and mop the stairs before starting any of the work.
Apply painter’s tape where the edges of each stair meet the wall or the riser.