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Painting Stairs and Using Auto Body Filler?

Dee Dreamer's picture
Dee Dreamer


I don't want to replace my staircase but it is in some ruff shape. The stairs are made of soft wood and was painted brown originally. I am planning on sanding them down as much as I can but since the treads have a slight ripple effect to them from years of use I am planning on filling them to make them smooth. I have scene and heard about using auto body filler to fill in wood, for it is stronger then wood filler. I have read online about Bondo Rotten wood, but I can’t get it here (Huntsville, ON). My concern is the expansion of the wood and will the auto body filler pop out over time? I am then planning on using an oil based paint black and use a few coats of veratane to make them shinny and durable. I think that the stairs are going to be slippery now though. These stairs are leading up from my front door. I have installed dark hardwood floors though out my main floor.

Any budget friendly ideas would be appreciated!


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Angie1313's picture

Oh wow...I never heard of that nor would have I thought of it. You'll have to let us know if it works.

wet-foot's picture

bondo works great I use it all the time. In doors the smell is wicked but will clear in a day or so. Make sure you buy the regular bondo and not the stuff with glass strands in it. I add fiberglass pigment to it when filling joints in hardwood floors. Put it on sand in 10 minutes prime 20 minutes later and paint the next day. After you paint with oil you should let the stairs cure for a week and then apply 2 or 3 coats of high gloss polyurethane. I would use a carpet runner for grip.

Restoration Guy's picture
Restoration Guy

Dee Dreamer

Another option you might consider is a two part epoxy called PolyAll 2000. They're located in Bradford, On.

The following link from their site shows some rotten wood being repaired.

You can mix dry organic dyes for colouring the PolyAll. Tempra paints from the dollar store work well. You can also get dyes from Micheals and paint stores if you have a particuler shade you want to use. You can also paint over it if you like.

You can mix fillers in it. I've used fine and not so fine sawdust as a wood filler. Fine for some cabinet doors (scratch and dents and also the hinge points on the doors) and rougher sawdust for decks and the gate posts that had major chunks missing. Mix it into a paste and apply with trowel, whatever. It takes a little longer to set up when there are fillers mixed in. You can also cool it in in the fridge to give yourself longer working time. Once you've filled, planed and sanded them you could apply a final, thin coat (it bonds to itself very well) and sprinkle a fine abrasive for traction if you'd like.

It doesn't shrink and it penetrates real well. A woodturner friend of mine actually turned me on to it. He uses it for hardening rotted wood that he wants to turn. I watched him use it and from mixing the components to hard enough to turn was 4 minutes. It actually hardened in under 3. It gets very hard. The wood he was hardening crumbled in you fingers before the PolyAll was applied.

I've used it to repair wood on window sills, old gate posts and decks to name a few. Quicker and cheaper than tearing everything up to repair. Their site states that it can bond just about anything. I've only used it on wood and fibreglass so I can't speak to how well it works with the other materials.

They have three sizes of kits. 8, 32 and 64oz. $20, 40 and 60. You can order from their website.

Good luck

Nestor_Kelebay's picture

Dee Dreamer:

I agree with the Epoxy idea, but I'd do it differently than suggested by the previous post. Lee Valley sells a wood restoration kit. See link below:



The kit consists of resin and hardener in paste form and resin and hardener in liquid form. Normally, you'd mix the liquid resin and hardener together and paint the mixture onto rotted wood. The epoxy mixture would be absorbed by the porous rotted wood and the strength of the rotted wood would be restored as the epoxy it absorbed cured and hardened. The paste resin and hardener is meant for filling in gouges and nicks in strong wood.

What they don't tell you, however, is that you can mix the paste resin and hardener, and also mix the liquid resin and hardener, and then mix the two mixtures together to make a very soft paste that you can trowel into the grooves of your steps with a putty knife. Allow that epoxy to cure and than sand the stair treads flat before painting.

So far as paint goes, You should use an INTERIOR oil based primer, and then top coat with a polyurethane based floor paint, which you should be able to get in brown from someone.

A polyurethane paint is identical in every respect to an oil based paint, and you clean up with paint thinner just like oil based paint, too. Essentially, they make polyurethane floor paints just by tinting a can of hardwood floor polyurethane in a paint tinting machine to give it colour and opacity.

If you can't find a polyurethane floor paint in a colour you like, then use an interior alkyd wall paint tinted to the right colour, and top coat with polyurethane hardwood floor finish. That will give you both the colour and durability you're after.


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