A home’s stairs serve as a focal point, for both traffic and attention. Especially striking when in an entryway, stairs draw the eye and connect the different levels of a home. Because they see so much use, stairs can become dingy or worn relatively quickly, but this doesn’t always necessitate extensive renovation to fix. Sometimes simply painting stairs can renew their status as a statement piece.
Carpeting on stairs is a design element well on its way out the door, but more importantly, it can be more dangerous than wood. When carpet is well-used, the fibers lose much of their traction, making them slippery. Carpeted stairs, therefore, grow more likely to cause falls with time. If your carpet is looking ragged or worn-out, consider updating your stairs by removing the carpet and adding a fresh coat of paint.
Even if there is no carpet on your staircase, the structure sees a lot of wear and tear, so keeping it looking fresh can be a challenge. Refreshing the paint on stairs can give them new life and a fresh spring. If you have updated the wall paint in a room since the stairs were installed, it may be time to update their look to match the rest of the room.
How to Paint Stairs
Painting stairs is no picnic, and it’s important to do it properly to avoid damage or unsightly mistakes. Know what you are getting yourself into before you pick up a brush, and if the DIY approach is not your thing, consider opting for a professional painting contractor.
Stairs follow a structural pattern: treads rest parallel to the ground and are the planks you stand on to climb the stairs. Risers are secured perpendicular to the treads and separate them. Before painting your stairs, you’ll need to decide if you want to paint both riser and tread or just one. Do you want to create bold two-toned stairs, or do you like a more uniform look?
Pick Your Paint
The paint you choose should add to your plan for the area they service. How do you want your stairs to work in the design of your entryway? You have two general options for how to add color to or bring out the color in your stairs: paint or stain. Paints give you greater variety in colors and finishes, while stains are excellent at emphasizing wood’s natural tones.
Darker stains and paints will conceal imperfections, while lighter hues can give a delicate elegance. Keep in mind that light-colored stairs will show every spec of dirt. Be sure to select floor-specific paint. Floor paints are specifically designed to be less slippery and more durable than wall paints.
If you removed the carpet from your stairs in order to paint them, keep in mind that the wood underneath the carpet will need to be whole. The treads and risers should be whole. Fill any holes with wood filler and remove any nails or staples. Sand the wood evenly and thoroughly in any areas you plan to paint. You can paint over painted wood, but depending on the age or your stairs, you might need to strip old paint back first. You can do this with a paint stripper or by sanding, but use caution as old paint may be lead-based.
Vacuum and wipe away all dirt, dust, and wood filings. Once the area is cleaned, use painters tape to cover anything you don’t want to paint. Be mindful of traffic and scheduling before you start. Once the paint goes on the treads, no one can walk on them for 24–48 hours. Coordinate with the other people in the house to decide on the best time to start.
Paint to Perfection
Before painting stairs with the color of choice, prime the area with primer or with stain. For both primer and paint, use a small roller to cover most of the area and cut in the corners. If you plan to paint your risers and treads different colors, doing so should be done in two phases to keep the lines between the hues defined.
Start at the end of the staircase where you don’t need to access. For example, if you are painting stairs leading to the basement, start at the bottom. As a general rule, it is easier to start at the top, but, again, you won’t have access to the floor you start on.
Design Ideas for Painting Stairs
Two-toned — Painting your treads and risers two different colors adds visual interest. Consider pairing arctic white with a soft black or a gentle driftwood, or use two tones that are only subtly different from each other.
Be bold — If your stairwell is simple and mostly uncluttered, choose a bold color for your stairs to contrast subtle wall tones.
A Stroke of Genius — Get creative with the patterns you use. Paint a runner down the center of the staircase or two lines running down either side.
Professional Stair Painting with Brush Brothers
While the results of painting stairs are unquestionably beneficial to a home’s overall appearance, the process itself can be tedious. It requires a lot of bending over and crouching, and it must be done properly to avoid undoing all the work. Stairs are an awkward shape, so painting them can be as obnoxious as vacuuming them. If you want to skip the fuss, let our Brush Brothers team of qualified painters take care of the job.