A beautiful timber such as oak should not be painted or covered by carpet. You should however protect your high quality staircase by oiling or varnishing it, especially if it is brand new. Treating it in this way will help prolong the life of the staircase and protect it from damage and stains. Some people also use a runner up the middle of the staircase to help protect those high-traffic areas, while still exposing the oak timber on either side. There is a great article here comparing the differences between using oil and varnish.
Your stairs will likely have a fair bit of traffic so they will only benefit from a little love and care. Remove debris and dust from the stair treads with a vacuum or brush. You can keep the balustrade (newel post, newel cap, spindles, handrail and base rail) clean by wiping them with a damp cleaning cloth. Chemical cleaners should ideally be avoided as they can damage the varnish and lacquer, as well as stain the wood. Standing water is also a danger on oak staircases as it can penetrate in to the wood if the area is not fully sealed. You should remove any standing water immediately. All though most damage can be repaired it is best avoided.
Just like timber furniture, wooden staircases are also vulnerable to damage from direct sunlight. The Suns powerful rays can cause your oak stairs to fade, darken or display other uncharacteristic changes in appearance. This can be negated by installing blinds or curtains in the area to limit the amount of direct exposure. If you have a runner installed it may be worth considering removing for a period every few months, so that oak ages uniformly.
Your amazing oak wooden staircase will be a centerpiece to your home. Make sure you take care of it and you can rest assured it will last a lifetime.
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