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As part of a renovation, my contractor had to remove some 60 year old Southern pine stair treads and replace with new ones. When staining to match the remaining treads, the color match was okay, but the new stairs came out blotchy:

enter image description here

This is brand new wood, with no existing finish. What would cause this, and what could be done to fix it?

  • Pines are blotch-prone woods, many previous Q&As touch on this basic question. Edit: I've actually just looked properly at the photos and it looks like something else is going on here in addition to normal blotching, it looks like the surface wasn't cleaned off prior to whatever was used being applied. Unless you go with a strongly coloured overcoat (e.g. gel stain) the only way to fix this is to take the surface back to bare wood and begin again. This is very difficult to do well with a stair tread in place. – Graphus Jan 2 '18 at 7:15
  • Here's a recent Question, Blotching like you've never seen before! where the problem is much worse but looks similar to some of what has occurred here and that was caused by nothing more than raindrops sprinkling the wood surface prior to staining! – Graphus Jan 2 '18 at 7:22
  • So I think my options are (1) keep working on these treads or (2) remove them and all the other ones as well, and then replace ALL the treads with a hardwood like oak, so that they're all the same and will take a stain better. Which do you think is likely to wind up being more expensive? – Joshua Frank Jan 2 '18 at 12:50
  • If some of this is from water droplets or other contamination on the surface just sanding back to bare wood is an easy and sure fix, but as I say only with the treads not in situ. As to the cost difference between the two options you list impossible to say I'm afraid, totally depends on things I can only guess at e.g. basic labour cost plus any "I don't want to do this" surcharge from the contractor (that's a thing, although none will admit it directly to a customer), cost of hardwoods in your location and other possibilities. – Graphus Jan 2 '18 at 18:17

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