Latest News and Articles From the A & T Carpentry BlogHow to maintain and care for your oak staircase
Oak is currently a very popular style of wood for our new staircase installations. It is a beautifully elegant wood giving your home a contemporary feel. Oak is a hardwood and its attractive fine, natural grain, warm colour and strength make it an ideal choice for a new staircase. However, to keep it looking at it’s best it does need some occasional ‘love and attention’.
A & T Carpentry give you their top tips on how to care for your oak staircase.
Cleaning Your Oak Staircase
All of A & T’s staircases are finished with a clear lacquer to preserve and maintain the wow factor of the natural colour of the wood.
Along with your entrance way your stairs will probably have the highest flow of household ‘traffic’ and therefore the most wear and tear. American white oak is incredibly hard wearing and also highly resistant to water minimising wood rot. However, over time your stairs and flooring will gather small bits of grit and dust from the bottom of footwear. The safest way to clean this, to prevent scratching and damaging the wood is to brush it gently and vacuum the treads. The balustrade and hand rail can be cleaned by wiping it with a soft dry cloth. Try and avoid using any kind of solvent or cleaning products as these are likely to damage the lacquer finish. Handrails can also be cleaned with a damp cloth to remove the dirt and oils left behind from hands. The wet rail should then be dried off with a soft cloth.
Dust changes the feel of your staircase under foot and gathers more readily in older houses. Polishing your oak staircase with a non abrasive soft cloth will keep the wood shining and help maintain its natural colour.
Natural woods, including oak will change colour over time and the ultraviolet rays of direct sunlight will speed up this bleaching process. There is little you can do to avoid this natural colour change but using blinds or curtains to limit direct sunlight will help. If you like to gather ornaments on your wooden stairs and floors then move them around every so often otherwise you will end up with patches of discolouration in the shape of your ornaments.
Exposing your staircase to extreme humidity (such as damp) or extremes of temperature (such as central heating) can cause the oak to twist, warp, split and even crack. It is natural for the timbers to move a little as they initially settle bu keep the temperature in your home comfortable. If you are happy then so will you staircase be!
Long Term Care of Your Oak Staircase
Over time your staircase will change structurally. Lively children bouncing up and down the stairs and moving heavy objects up and down them will cause components to move a little. Its a good idea to check this occasionally. Check for bent and loose nails or screws, particularly on the handrail. This is usually something you can do yourself by tightening with a screw driver or tapping a nail back in.
Cracks and woodworm can pose issues too . You can use a blunt tool to gently scrape away any dents or loose wood. Very often, a light sand, another dab of lacquer and a polish will repair most small cracks or dents. Deep cracks may alter the structural integrity of you staircase and might need further investigation and a more expensive renovation. Woodworm will also weaken the staircase’s structure and it’s maybe that a number of components need replacing. Woodworm infestations should be dealt with by an expert as once they are visible on the surface, distinguished by lots of tiny holes, the damage is already likely to be considerable.
Need advice on restoring your worn staircase?
As always, A & T Carpentry will be happy to offer you free friendly advice on the best solutions for your particular staircase.
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