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How To Paint Stairs

General Expertise
By on Jan 8, 2017
How To Paint Stairs

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Your stairwell presents a great decorating opportunity in the home. Whether stationed in an open hallway or located in a room, stairs that are old and worn down can make the room look the same. Thankfully, for those with wood stairs, it’s easy to freshen them up with a coat of paint.

This is an easy DIY project almost anyone with a few extra hours on a weekend could do. Gather your painting supplies and get ready to change your look by painting your stairs.

Painting stairs can be a big job if you have a large staircase. If you’d rather leave the painting to the pros, contact a painting contractor today for up to four quotes from pros in your area for free.

Costs Of Painting

Painting Costs

When it comes to painting your stairs, you should budget before you begin. If you’ll be painting your stairwell walls, that will also factor into your total cost. Because staircases vary in size and shape, it’s hard to determine an exact number. The average cost for a small paint project, such as painting your stairs is $585, with most homeowners spending between $404 and $644.

Paint Samples

Stair & Stairwell Colors

As mentioned, your stairwell can either be a decorative element or an eyesore. Changing the color of the stairs and stairwell can really change your attitude toward the area. A cheerful and warm color can truly welcome you into the space. If the stairwell is in a room, try to choose colors that already match the décor. If you’re looking for the stairwell to make a statement, try choosing colors that will pop. Because there are so many elements here such as risers, treads, walls and even railings if you choose, you can mix and match colors where you see appropriate.

One of my favorite stairwell color combinations is black and white. This is a truly timeless combination that is extremely versatile. You can paint and choose to decorate your stairwell with wall art, a gallery walls or even stencils. The options are endless.

Materials Needed

Materials Needed

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Quality Paintbrush
  • Paint Roller
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paint Tray
  • Paint
  • Cleaning Supplies

Choose Your Color

Step 1: Clean The Stairs

As excited as you may be for your stair transformation, you need to examine your stairs. Check to see if they are loose or cracked, as now is the time to have them repaired. The average coast to repair stairs or railings is $586 depending on the damage. Most homeowners spend between $357 and $669. Be sure your wood stairs are smooth and sand areas if needed, before you begin.

Once your stairs are in great shape, thoroughly clean them with hot water and soap. This is best done with a cloth, as you need to get all the dust out of little corners and cracks. Let the stairs dry before continuing.

Step 2: Tape Edges

Unless you’re comfortable enough with your painting, taping the areas where you don’t want paint is critical. As much as you love the color you chose, it’s probably best left where you intended it. Tape all areas that meet with the floor or wall, and under them if you intend to paint the stairwell wall.

Paint Your Stairs

Step 3: Paint The Stairs

It’s time to paint. If you’re painting both the stairwell wall and the steps, I suggest painting the wall first and letting that dry completely before painting your steps. Something you may want to remember is that these stairs will not be useable once you put paint on them, so paint in the direction where you decide to stay. If you’re painting steps to a basement, it’s best to work your way up, while stairs leading to a second floor should be painted the opposite direction.

Start with the risers. Paint each one carefully, as the corners and under the tread can be tricky areas to get. Next, carefully paint the treads. The stairs will likely need two coats of paint.

Let Your Stairs Dry

Step 4: Dry Completely

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Once you’ve finished your last coat of paint, step back to double check that all areas are covered. Depending on the lighting in your stairwell, this can be difficult to see. Add an extra lamp or flashlight to examine the final coat. The paint will take 24 to 48 hours to dry, at least. Try not to use the stairs as much as possible during this time. This is difficult if the stairs are in a high traffic area. Block of the areas from any animals or children who may accidentally try to use them.

While the paint is still wet, remove the painter's tape by slowly pulling it away. Keep a damp cloth on hand to wipe away any drips that may occur.

Finally, enjoy your new and colorful stairs! Add a stair runner or railing décor to really allow them to pop.


Painting your stairs is an easy DIY project that doesn’t take a long time to complete. It can change the look of your stairwell or room in no time at all.

Do you love to DIY? See a few Easy Kitchen Updates To Complete In An Afternoon.

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