So my wife and I have been busy fixing up a couple more rooms in our house the past couple of weeks. This round of projects included the hallway and stairs. I have been refinishing the floors upstairs, (I believe they are red oak), and I decided to work my way down the stair treads. Also red oak. Now here is the problem...
Our house was built in 1938, only had one owner previous to us buying it 2 years ago. The main floor has all the original 8" gumwood trim and doors. The upstairs has all been painted white. For the most part, the stained trim is in pretty good condition, and all of the doors are in excellent condition. Going up the stairs, the risers and stringers are stained to match all of the trim downstairs. The issue is however, that the risers are in pretty tough shape. They have dings and gouges from hammer claws when the previous owner removed their green shag carpet, and there are a lot of scratches on the finish. After much deliberation and thinking and paining ourselves over the decision, we are planning to paint out the stringers and risers white. The newel posts,and handrails will remain as wood. We hate to be "those people" painting over the wood, but I don't think there is any other reasonable option to make it look better. So here are my questions.
1. What would be the best steps taken to prepare the surface for paint? I plan on sanding the finish to give it a little tooth for the paint to stick to. Will that be enough for a good bond?
2. What would be the best way to smooth out the surface of the risers (fill in the claw hammer gouges). Should I be using wood filler? If so, what type would be the best? I also considered drywall mud, and skimming the surface. But, that may just be a really stupid idea.
Any input would be greatly appreciated, especially regarding the filler.