How to Polish Wooden Stairs – DIY Methods You Will Love

Wooden floors and stairs make your home elegant, classy, and warm. The wood’s natural beauty is unique and welcoming. Polishing your wooden floor and stairs is necessary to maintain natural beauty and elegance. You also protect the wooden surfaces from premature wear and tear.

This guide explores the best DIY methods for polishing your wooden stairs. We outline natural alternatives to chemical-based polishing products you can prepare at home. You will also get maintenance tips to keep the stairs looking new.

Natural DIY Methods of Polishing Wooden Stairs

Consider natural polishing products if you are considering DIY methods instead of hiring a cleaning service. You will get the same results without harmful chemical residues on the surrounding surfaces.

1) Olive Oil and Vinegar

Mix white vinegar and olive oil in equal measures to make a natural polish. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Vinegar removes grease and grime on wooden surfaces, while olive oil moistures the surface.

Olive oil also conditions and protects your wooden stairs. You can apply coconut oil as a natural polishing solution or as an alternative to olive oil. Lemon juice is a natural disinfectant. It also leaves a fresh scent after polishing.

A natural alternative to adding lemon juice is infusing olive oil with dry orange peels. The peels must be completely dry before the infusion to prevent mold. Infuse the oil for at least six weeks before polishing the wood.

Do not keep the mixture for the next polishing project, or use an old mixture to polish your stairs. Make enough natural polish for a one-time use and apply any remains within a month.

2) Beeswax and Olive Oil

Melt beeswax and mix it with olive oil or coconut oil. The mixture works best on wooden stairs without stains. Hence, you must treat any stains before polishing them for a naturally appealing look.

Polishing with this mixture protects the wooden stairs from moisture and cracks. The mixture hides imperfections and covers scratches with a beautiful shiny layer.

3) Coconut Oil

You can use coconut oil without any additives as a wood polish. Applying virgin coconut oil is a great way to polish wood regularly without discoloring the natural grains. Add your preferred essential oil for a fresh scent.

How to Polish Wooden Stairs

You can keep your stairs looking new and shiny using inexpensive DIY methods. Stairs are a high-traffic section in many homes that requires regular attention. Luckily, polishing is a straightforward process you can repeat after two to three months or as required.

1. Prepare or buy the polish

Determine the best solution you will use for polishing. We have already discussed solutions you can use with ingredients from your kitchen. Mix the ingredients if you prefer natural polish, or order commercial polish.

You can buy oil, wax, or varnish polish from your local store. Wax-based polish provides a natural solution that keeps wooden surfaces warm and glowing. Oil-based polishes protect the wood from moisture damage and scratches.

Varnish polish leaves a hard protective coat. You can alternate from one product to another for full benefits. Alternatively, choose a solution based on the location of the stairs. For instance, the varnish is perfect for high-traffic sections.

2. Clean and sand the stairs

Prepare the stairs before polishing for a smooth and professional finish. Vacuum or sweep the stairs to remove any debris or dust. Inspect the stairs thoroughly for stains and clean the stains with a wood cleaner.

You can remove stains with baking soda instead of ordering a wood cleaner. Vinegar is perfect for eliminating oil stains. If you use vinegar and olive oil polish, order extra vinegar to remove stains.

Allow the surface to dry and sand any rough spots. Old stairs may have cracks or holes. Fill such spaces with the appropriate wood filler and sand the surface. Use a wet soft cloth to wipe the dust and allow the stairs to dry.

3. Apply the polish

Use a sponge or soft cloth to apply the polish on the dry surface. Test the polish on a small section first to determine its viscosity and results. It is advisable to apply the polish in thin layers, especially oil-based polish.

Apply the polish in circular motions starting from the top of the staircase. Experts advise homeowners to use at least two coats of polish for long-lasting results. Allow one coat to dry completely before applying another layer.

4. Buffing

Buffing adds extra shine to the wood, especially after using wax-based or beeswax polish. The polishing process may leave a few lines on your stairs. Buffing removes such lines and other imperfections to reveal a shiny finish.

The process allows the new polish coat to penetrate the wooden surface. Buffing also protects the new polish coat from dirt. Allow the last polish coat to dry completely before buffing.

Use a machine or a hand-held buffer to buff the stairs slowly. A hand-held buffer is recommended if your stairs cannot take the buffing machine. Work slowly to avoid damaging the new polish.

Buffing is optional. Two coats of polish are enough to protect the surface and reveal the wood’s natural beauty. However, you can go the extra mile, especially if your home has shiny wooden floors.

5. Allow the stairs to dry

The drying process depends on the polish that you choose. Leave the stairs to dry before stepping on them or placing any item. It helps to polish floors and stairs when there is no traffic.

You can wait until the holidays to polish the stairs or treat them into two parts. Cover the polished part until it is completely dry before working on the other part.

Another important tip is to apply polish in thin layers and ventilate the room for a quick drying process. Ventilation is also important to release the polish fumes.

How to Maintain Wooden Stairs and Floors

Regular polishing is one way of maintaining wooden surfaces in their elegant and shiny finish. Choose a wood polish that provides a protective layer for weeks or months in high-traffic areas.

You can make wooden floors and stairs in your space last longer with the following tips.

1. Keep the stairs clean

Clean the surface regularly and treat stains immediately. Acidic spills and stains may penetrate deep into the wood, making it difficult to regain the natural wooden look. Wet spills also lead to discoloration and warping.

Sticky dirt may also require abrasive scrubbing that may damage the wood. Hence, it is important to vacuum weekly and wipe your floors daily, especially for large families. In addition, use the right cleaners and bleach to avoid damage.

Avoid excess water or moisture when cleaning. Damp wood rots fast. Wipe the stairs and floors with a damp cloth and keep rooms ventilated. In addition, avoid abrasive cleaning machines or cleaners.

2. Coat the stairs

After polishing, add an extra protective coat to prevent damage and maintain the shine. Thin coats last longer. Allow the polish and coat to dry completely before using the stairs for a durable protective layer.

The coat prevents moisture and wet spills from penetrating the wood.

Maintain a routine of polishing, buffing, and coating the wooden surfaces throughout the year. DIY projects make maintenance flexible and affordable. Do it at your pace but be consistent.

3. Use protective coverings

Protective covers are necessary after polishing or coating for a day or two for the polish to dry. You may also lay carpet runners on the stairs. The downside of runners is that they hide the wooden aesthetics.

Stair treads also offer a protective covering but also hide the natural beauty. You can use the coverings during high traffic, like the holidays or special events.

4. Avoid shoes and sharp objects on the stairs

Marks and small dents are unavoidable after using open wooden stairs for several years. The task is harder when sharing the space with many people. However, you can avoid deep scratches and dents with simple tips.

It is tempting to walk up the stairs with your shoes. However, you risk leaving ugly marks on the steps, especially with pointed shoes. Remove your shoes before stepping on wooden surfaces or change into carpet slippers.

Avoid dragging heavy objects up or down the stairs or placing sharp objects on the steps. Cover the stairs when you need to move heavy or sharp objects up or down the staircase.

5. Involve your family

Maintaining wooden floors and stairs is a family affair. Teach your loved ones how to use wooden floors properly, especially the young ones. Allocate covered places in your home where kids can play without damaging the surfaces.


Polishing wooden stairs reveals their natural aesthetics and protects the wood from damage. Regular polishing is advisable for long-lasting results. You can polish stairs with commercial wood polish or make natural alternatives at home.

A white vinegar and olive oil mixture gives the stairs a lasting, shiny finish without harmful chemicals in your home. Clean and sand the stairs before applying the polish in thin layers. Buff and coat the new polish to extend its lifespan. Keep the stairs clean and wipe wet spills immediately.