Varathane for a stair

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Posted by: from Hamilton
4/5/2012 at 7:12:23 PM

The fellow that I had build my new stairs messed uo the stain and we stripped it prior to finishing and re-stained with minwax stain to the colour that we wanted. He then applied Benjamin Moore latex varathane and it is all peeling off with just the slightest scatch - (It even comes off with your fiungernail) -

Now what to do?

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Date/Time4/5/2012 at 8:38:10 PM

Hi Dennis:

I guess that the first question would be, what material did you build the stairs out of? |There are some materials on the market, that are so hard and dense, that if you try to use a penetrating stain, it will not penetrate, and therefore there is no adhesion. There are gelled stains made for this. also, Minwax makes a two and one stain, although I am not a fan of it. It is a combination stain and varathane, but the more coats that you aply, the more that the grain is hidden, and the colour deepens. However, you can use it to get the desired effect, and then the remaining top coats are clear.

I have used waterborne clears on bull noses and transition strips for years, but there are specific clears for floors. Most are not designed for this. Also, I put a minimum of 5 coats on and depending on the wear, you should put more. Remeber, that a coat of protective coating is only as thick as a hair.

As far as the peeling and scratching off, the first coat has no adhesion. That is what connects all of the other coats to the wood substrate. Preparation is the key along with the first coat applied. If you respond and tell me what the substrate is and the type of stain, type of clear, and how many coats that you applied, then I may be able to help you. People think that paint is a miracle basically because they hate painting and lets blame the products. Dealing with the paint retail for over 10 years, lets just say, that steel, wood, and concrete wear down, but paint should last forever!


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Date/Time4/6/2012 at 12:18:18 AM

Hi Dennis, this sounds like the classic water over oil scenario. The stain was probably oil based and the water based (latex) varathane just won't stick to it. The carriers and binders in the 2 products are not compatible with each other so the top coat just peels off. It can be done this way but you have to seal the stain with clear shellac first, followed by the water based.

You may (but I doubt it) be able to remove the clear coats carefully without damaging the stain. If you can, you can put an oil based varathane over it.

You are probably going to have to sand back to bare wood and start the process again. To ensure compatibility, check the clean up instructions on the containers. If both the stain and finish coats use the same products for clean up (paint thinner, mineral spirits, varsol versus soap and water) they will work together. The brands shouldn't make a difference.

You may want to test this on a scrap piece of wood of the same type as your floor - you can get small pieces of oak, maple, and birch at any box store or lumber yard.

Good Luck with it!

Jim Kuzma

Kettleby Handyman Services

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