Many of our customers request prestained or prefinished stair parts instead of the unfinished alternative. While we offer both options at WoodStairs.com, many customers change their mind when they realize the disadvantages of using prefinished stair parts or components to construct their balustrade. If you are doing a simple wall mounted handrail then using a prefinished handrail is perfectly acceptable. However, for more extensive installations prefinished stair parts / components involve a variety of issues.
Firstly, there is the possibility of damage during shipping. While every economical means available is used to protect the products during shipment, there is always the possibility of minor damage. This is not a common issue but because of the nature of the product, when it does occur it can cause a big problem. If the products are unfinished, they can usually be lightly sanded and the problem disappears, when they are prefinished this is not possible without touch up. Of course, the damage during shipping is covered by the carrier but there is the delay in having the items reshipped.
Second and most prevalent is the very nature of stair and railing installation. Virtually all of the components in a normal installation have to be cut to length, drilled for attachments or to accept balusters, sanded to fit and so on. The issues that arise are very minor, a slight splintering of drilled holes or saw cuts and sanded areas. Because there is so much cutting, drilling, and sanding involved, these minor areas of touch up can quickly add up.
This brings up the final issue of matching the finish. While most companies who offer prestained stair parts also offer to touch up the stain, it is very difficult to match even if you are using the original can of stain. If you’ve ever stained any wood, then sanded an imperfection and re-stained that area you will understand the difficulty. They just don’t seem to want to match exactly, either too dark, too light or having more or less sheen. Even professional painters find it difficult and do their best avoid touch up. Installing Handrails, Handrail Fittings, Balusters, Newel Posts, Stair Treads and virtually all stair parts requires light sanding to get that perfect fit. If these items are prestained there will inevitably be issues matching the touch up to the original finish. This is not to say it cannot be done, our customers frequently choose this route, especially on simple projects or with the understanding that these are real issues they will encounter. If you don’t have access to a painter who can finish unstained wood stair parts or if you don’t have the budget then this is a viable option. Just understand that often there is nearly as much touch up as just staining the completed unstained banister upon completion. If you are still uncertain of which method you prefer, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Stair Specialist at CustomersFirst@WoodStairs.com or 888-390-7245. Remember we offer both alternatives, unfinished or prefinished, are happy to help you make the best choice for your specific situation.