How to Paint Stairs

How to paint above stairs?

Stairs are an essential part of any home, providing access to different levels while also serving as a design element that can enhance the overall aesthetics of your living space. If your stairs are looking dull or worn out, one cost-effective and transformative way to give them a fresh lease on life is by painting them. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the entire process of painting your stairs, from choosing the right materials to maintenance and important precautions.

indoor spiral stairs

Materials You'll Need

Before you embark on your stair painting project, it’s crucial to gather all the necessary materials. Here’s a checklist to ensure you have everything you need:

1. Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles
  • Respirator mask (for fume protection)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Knee pads (if needed)

2. Tools

  • Screwdriver (for removing hardware)
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Paint scraper
  • Paintbrushes (angled and straight)
  • Paint roller and tray
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
  • Paint stirrer
  • Paint cans and a paint can opener
  • Bucket for cleaning tools

3. Materials

  • Primer
  • Paint (acrylic, latex, or oil-based, depending on your preference)
  • Wood filler (if repairing damaged areas)
  • Painter’s putty (for filling nail holes)
  • Staircase-specific paint (non-slip if desired)
  • Mineral spirits (for cleaning brushes)

4. Cleaning Supplies

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) or a similar cleaner
  • Sponges or rags

5. Hardware (if needed)

  • New screws
  • Replacement handrails or balusters

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Preparation

a. Clear the Area

Before you start, remove any furniture, carpets, or objects that may obstruct your work area. This includes any stair runners or mats.

b. Protect the Surrounding Area

Cover the surrounding walls and floor with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from paint splatters. Use painter’s tape to secure the protective covering in place.

c. Remove Hardware (If Necessary)

If your stairs have handrails or balusters, use a screwdriver to remove them. This will make it easier to paint and ensure a neater finish.

Step 2: Cleaning

a. Vacuum and Sweep

Thoroughly clean the stairs by vacuuming away loose dirt and dust. Follow up with a sweeping to ensure the surface is as clean as possible.

b. Degrease and Clean

Mix TSP or a similar cleaner with water according to the instructions on the product. Use a sponge or rag to wash the stairs, removing any grease or stains. Rinse with clean water and allow them to dry completely.

Step 3: Surface Preparation

a. Repair Any Damage

Inspect the stairs for any damaged areas. Fill cracks or holes with wood filler and sand them smooth once they’re dry. For small nail holes, use painter’s putty.

b. Sand the Surface

Sand the entire stair surface to create a rough texture for better paint adhesion. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and work your way to finer grits. Remove any sanding residue with a vacuum or brush.

Step 4: Prime

Apply a coat of primer to the stairs. Primer helps paint adhere better and provides a consistent surface for the paint. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Painting

a. Choosing Paint

Select a high-quality paint suitable for your stairs. Acrylic or latex paints are popular choices because they dry quickly, have low odor, and are easy to clean up. Oil-based paints provide a durable finish but require more time to dry and have a stronger odor.

b. Paint the Stairs

Start by painting the edges and corners of the stairs with a brush. Use an angled brush for precision. Then, use a roller to apply paint to the flat surfaces. Work from top to bottom, and be sure to spread the paint evenly to avoid drips and uneven coverage. Allow the first coat to dry before applying a second coat if needed.

c. Non-Slip Finish (Optional)

For added safety, consider using a non-slip paint or adding non-slip additives to your paint for the treads of the stairs.

Step 6: Reassemble and Final Touches

Once the paint has dried completely, reattach any hardware or handrails that you removed in Step 1. Ensure they are securely fastened and align properly. Touch up any areas that may have been accidentally scuffed during reassembly.


Maintenance and Care

After you’ve successfully painted your stairs, it’s essential to maintain them properly to ensure the longevity of your work and keep them looking fresh.

Regular Cleaning

Dust and dirt can accumulate on your painted stairs over time. Regularly vacuum or sweep the stairs to keep them clean. For more thorough cleaning, use a damp cloth or sponge with mild detergent. Avoid abrasive cleaners that could damage the paint.


Over time, your painted stairs may experience wear and tear, especially in high-traffic areas. Keep some leftover paint for touch-ups. When you notice chips or scratches, lightly sand the damaged area, apply a primer if necessary, and then touch up with paint.

Protective Measures

Consider adding stair runners or mats to protect the painted surface in high-traffic areas. These not only provide an additional layer of protection but can also add a decorative touch to your stairs.

Check for Damage

Regularly inspect your stairs for any signs of damage, such as peeling paint, cracks, or loose hardware. Promptly address any issues to prevent further deterioration.


While painting stairs can be a rewarding DIY project, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your safety and the success of the project.


Ensure proper ventilation in the area where you’re painting. If you’re using oil-based paints, the fumes can be strong, so a respirator mask is advisable.

Safety Gear

Wear appropriate safety gear, including safety goggles, gloves, and knee pads if needed. Protect your skin and eyes from splatters and accidents.

Work in Sections

Painting stairs can be a time-consuming task, so consider working on one section at a time, especially if your staircase is heavily used. This allows you to maintain access to other areas of your home while the paint dries.

Take Your Time

Rushing through the project can lead to uneven paint application and a less-than-desirable finish. Take your time and allow each coat to dry completely before proceeding to the next.

Follow Manufacturer Instructions

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the paint, primer, and any other products you use during the project.


Painting your stairs can be a transformative DIY project that not only enhances the aesthetics of your home but also protects and extends the life of your staircase. By following this step-by-step guide, you can achieve professional-looking results and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. Remember to take the necessary precautions, perform regular maintenance, and your painted stairs will continue to impress for years to come. So, put on your painting gear

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