Maple is popular wood for interior trim, flooring and stairs.
Maple has natural beauty with a smooth surface due to its closed grain properties of the wood. The hardness of maple makes it a great choice for stairs and any place that gets a lot of abuse from heavy use. Maple is usually clear coated which highlights its natural tones.
In recent years cabinet and flooring companies started a trend of staining of maple. While these products are typically factory finished with systematic and tested processes, staining maple trim and stairs yourself is tricky. Maple tends to absorb stain unevenly which leads to a blotchy look. The darker the stain the more blotches will be appearant.
What you can do:
Applying a wood conditioner or a shellac seal coat prior to staining provides a barrier between the wood and the stain. This will help minimize the blotchy effect. Also, try a gel stain verses a penetrating stain. A penetrating stain is designed to absorb into the wood, and this does not work well with maple.
As with all finishing projects, test the desired finish on a piece of scrap wood before you begin to stain. Try different conditioners and stains to produce the desired effect. Investing a few dollars and a little time on products to get the best quality will pay a big return when staining an entire stair.
Staining your maple stairs takes patience. But the time invested to do it right will reward you with years of enjoyment and beauty.