I watched a bunch of Youtube videos on how to refinish stairs and realized it's not going to be a quick job. I reached out to a handyman to replace the OSB stair and figured I'd focus on removing the staples, sanding, priming and painting the stairs.
From the Youtube videos it looked like it would be best to get a random orbital sander rather than dealing with hand sanding all of the stairs. Also would need to get some paint suitable for floors. Some brands do have a dedicated porch paint, but many don’t offer the paint in custom colors. I started the weekend with the aggressive schedule of removing all the staples, sanding and getting at least 1 coat of primer.
Removing the staples took a lot longer than expected and at the end of the weekend there's still more left. I saw a few videos on the quickest way to remove carpet staples and tried a few. For the most part I was using a cat's paw and pliers. One of the tips was to use locking pliers and a lever to pry them out and that worked OK, but the biggest problem I faced was that the staples were so rusted and brittle that as soon as I put any pressure on them, they snapped leaving shards stuck in the wood. The locking pliers are OK at grabbing the shards but I may have to nail down the remaining ones I can't pull out.
With most of the staples out, I try the orbital sander on the steps. I started with grit 80 and it didn't seem to be doing much. The steps have what looks like at least 3 layers of paint, plus a mess of white drips, spills, and splatters from the walls all over them. The white paint seems impervious to the sanding and the brown paint does start coming up but it's so hard the sander needs a weak spot before making any progress. So I switch to a scraper and the white paint starts coming up really easy. I then scuff up the brown layer which doesn't really come off with the scraper but that makes it easier on the sander when I try a 2nd time. Also I swap out with 40 grit since I need the most destruction possible.
While I can see the exposed layers, I run a lead test and luckily nothing turns up red so I'm assuming should be good with removal and disposal. A few hours pass of scraping and sanding and while I can see some improvement, there's still much to do and there's no way I'm going to get to priming on this pass.
I also notice the huge amount of dings, bumps, holes and other imperfections and remember back to the Youtube videos about the step of filling the wood before priming. I forgot to factor that into my plan but it looks like I'll definitely need it. Although I'm hoping that since I'm not going to have any natural wood exposed, I won't need to do a complete sand down to the bare wood and fill everything perfect since it will be covered again with primer and paint.