Link-age Flash Survey – Sanitizing and wood damage

Link-age Flash Survey – Sanitizing and wood damage

Are you looking for answers regarding an issue you’re experiencing? Wish you had a way to poll your peers within the senior living industry?

Look no further than Link-age. We are pleased to announce a new member service: Flash Surveys, quick surveys distributed by Link-age to its membership to help members find the answers they’re looking for! Answers will be shared as they are delivered to us, so be sure to verify any information you choose to use.

To connect with your peers and send a Flash Survey, reach out to Debbie Hounshell, Director of Member & Administrative Services, at

Survey Question:

“We have a wooden handrail throughout our Assisted Living hallways. It was a very nice stained wood. Due to sanitizing, it is removing the stain and making it rough. Aside from replacing it, are there any suggestions on how to remedy this?  Can we re-stain it and make it so the sanitizing solutions do not remove the stain?”

Member Responses:

  • We have wooden rails throughout our Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living with the same issue. Once we get back to our “normal” we will move a hallway at a time and sand/refinish. We changed the chemical we used to sanitize them (Vitale Oxide as opposed to bleach) and that seems to be a lot less aggressive on the finish.
  • Yes, you can sand the hand rails and restrain them. Then I would use a fire-rated varnish or clear coat. This would protect the stain. I would also talk to your housekeeping supplier to make sure the sanitizer you are using would be safe to use over the varnish or clear coat. It is good to just wash the handrails off from time to time to help with the quat build up you get from using sanitizers.
  • I used to build and finish custom cabinetry for a living. It’s going to be next to impossible to give an answer on this without seeing it. There’s no telling how the sanitizer has affected the finish and how it might affect new stain. Best bet is to call a professional wood finisher and try a couple places and see how it works. At the end of the day, you need a top coat that is much harder (and chemically resistant) than the original so that it doesn’t happen again, but first you need to get a coat of stain to stick. The sanitizer may be dried into the fibers of the wood and make it impossible for the new stain to stick.
  • Tons of variables here, so I’d suggest getting a professional finisher on site to give some thoughts.
  • I think you can sand the finish off and re-stain. Put several coats of polyurethane on it. If you are using an alcohol-based sanitizer, I would try to use a peroxide one. The kill time is a bit longer but it won’t hurt the finish.
  • It should be lightly sanded and re-stained. The rails will need to be removed to do that job because it is likely the process will stain the wallpaper or walls paint. Another option is to tape it off.
  • I would recommend sanding with a 500 or 600 grit sandpaper to smooth it back out, re-stain with a similar color, and then put a heavy varnish on it. You could try standing with a 500 or 600 grit sandpaper and just doing an oil finish like a Danish oil or a tongue oil, which would bring out the original colors that were left in it and keep the wood sealed. Doing an oil finish would probably have to be repeated annually. A varnish would stand up longer but also take longer to do the repair.
  • By the time you sand, stain and re-finish the existing wood rails, you could probably just replace with In-Pro (or similar product) for the same if not lower cost.  There is a lot of labor in the re-finishing of wood, especially if you do it correctly.  The In-Pro product is an overall superior product in the long run.
  • We also have wooden hand rails in our facility and have not had any break down in our stain or varnish on the rails. I would look at your cleaning products.
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