So while I was trying to figure out what to do with the treads in the main staircase at least I knew what to do with the risers and the stringers. They were not staying pine so I prepped by masking off the treads.
Then I painted them white. It took two coats + touch ups but with the masking tape in place it was an easy job.
SO much better already. This happened in early fall and it was good to have that painted while I was considering the options for the treads themselves.
To be continued.