You can fix the dents from a furniture-moving project with a little heat.

How to Fix Dents in a Stair Riser

by Eric Jonas

The stairs in a busy home put up with a lot of traffic, so it's no surprise they occasionally suffer from a little wear and tear. Whether it was your young athlete's soccer cleats that caused an unsightly dent on his way up the stairs or a toy thrown too hard during the grand Friday-night temper tantrum, the gleaming hardwood riser is marred. Fortunately, it only requires a little of your precious time to restore it to its former glory.

Sand the area of the dent on the riser, using medium-grit sandpaper. Work in the direction of the woodgrain until you have removed the finish from the area. Sand the entire riser to remove all of the stain.

Dampen a cloth with lukewarm water. Place the cloth on top of the dent. Heat the iron to the "Steam" setting and run it back and forth across the cloth-covered dent three to four times. Turn off the iron, remove the cloth and let the wood dry thoroughly.

Inspect the dented area for any remaining imperfections. If the dent is not adequately filled, apply wood filler to the area, using a metal putty knife. Scrape the putty knife across the riser to smooth the filler. Let the wood filler dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, fill the dented area with wood putty that matches your stain color.

Sand the filled area until smooth, using fine-grained sandpaper. Clean the area, using a lint-free cloth. Apply stain to the riser to make it coordinate with the rest of the risers.

Items you will need

  • Sandpaper, medium-grit
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Iron
  • Wood filler (or wood putty)
  • Metal putty knife
  • Sandpaper, fine-grit
  • Wood stain


  • Removing all the stain on a stair riser enables you to apply an even coat of stain to the entire riser when you have finished repairing the dent, rather staining a small area and risking an uneven finish.
  • Moist heat causes the dented wood to swell and makes it level again with the rest of the riser.


  • Wood putty should be dyed to match your stain prior to application, should only be used with oil-based finishes and can take anywhere from two days to a week or more to dry thoroughly.


About the Author

Eric Jonas has been writing in small-business advertising and local community newsletters since 1998. Prior to his writing career, he became a licensed level II gas technician and continues to work in the field, also authoring educational newsletters for others in the business. Jonas is currently a graduate student with a Bachelor of Arts in English and rhetoric from McMaster University.

Photo Credits

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