How To Paint A Staircase? [4 Steps]

A staircase is a centerpiece of a home that gets a lot of attention each time you climb the stairs. For that reason, it's super important your staircase looks presentable and adds stylish accents to your home or living space. To help you make those stairs stand-out, we researched how to paint your staircase. 

If you decide to paint your staircase, you'll have to go through these fours steps -

  1. Prep
  2. Priming
  3. Template Application
  4. Painting

Once you understand the painting process, we will also take you through a paint color-choosing tutorial. You will also learn how to match your stairs' paint to the rest of your home and how to deal with slippery painted stairs. So, please keep reading, and let's get started!

A bright colorful flight of stairs in a building, How To Paint A Staircase? [4 Steps]

How to Paint a Staircase?

So, you have painted your home's interior several years ago, and looking at your staircase, it deserves a bit of a touch-up. Here's how to paint it yourself:

1. Prepare for Painting

Due to traction, stairs require a bit more prep work than walls before painting. Thoroughly clean the staircase. Then, lightly sand the staircase using a 120 to 180 grit sandpaper. A sanding block or electric sander can expedite this process. If you are removing previous paint, you can try a coarser 80 grit sandpaper first, and then follow with a finer grit. 

Click here for 120 grit sandpaper on Amazon.

2. Prime Staircase

As there will be a lot of foot traffic–causing wear on the stairs, it is advisable to find a good primer as a base beneath your paint. Wipe down the staircase with a damp cloth (allow to dry completely) or tack cloth to remove any sanding dust before applying primer. Apply primer as an undercoat and let it dry before painting your topcoat.

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Click here for Kilz primer on Amazon.

3. Template Application

Before painting, you will need to mark-out the design if you have a particular look in your mind. This is done using a painter's tape. Otherwise, if you are painting the entire stair you'll want to apply painter's tape around spindles to avoid accidentally painting.

Click here for painter's tape on Amazon.

Below, we've featured some typical staircase patterns:

Mock runner

This lets you have the look of a runner at a cheaper rate. To achieve this, you will need to measure six inches from the edge of each step and riser (depending on your stairs' width and length). Tape this line off and paint the border with the color of your choice. Once dry, replace the tape on the other side's line and paint the border's desired color or pattern.


Stripes are great on stairs. For this design, you will use the same tape technique as the mock runner. However, the tape goes on each step and riser in your desired width. Paint the design, let it dry, then replace the tape and work on the background color.

Painted risers

These are for adding some pop to the stairs. You only paint the risers. Start by taping off the top lip and bottom edge first before you start painting.

4. Paint

Once you are done with your desired pattern, get whatever color you want, and paint it as usual. If the stairs are slippery, add some grit to the paint to give it some texture.

Click here for anti-skid additive on Amazon.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stairs?

When painting interior stairs, choosing the right paint can often be problematic, here are a few tips:

Non-Slip Paint

If you want to use standard latex paint, top it with some polyurethane (water-based) to make it more durable and have less slippage. However, it takes longer to dry and contains more chemicals than other paints. Once you have painted it, please take a few days before using the stairs to let it dry.

Sheen & Durability

When choosing the paint to use, please pay attention to its sheen. While high-gloss paints will be more durable than a matte finish, it highlights the imperfections more. If you plan to give your stairs a smooth sanding finish to protect them from or pet-claw scrapes, you will not have to worry about anything. But otherwise, we recommend semi-gloss paint for your finishing.

Light Vs. Dark Colors

To get a good perspective of the two, know that dark treads will hide wear while light risers will highlight your rise more. An excellent way to decide the best is to match the treads to the handrails and the risers to spindles. You can also use the room's color scheme to match the stair design.

Is Painting Stairs a Good Idea?

If you are after switching up your stairs' look or overhaul them a bit but cannot get a new one, you should paint your current one. There are a few reasons why painting your stairs would be an excellent idea. We have highlighted some of them for you below:

  • It is relatively cheap to do.
  • Easy way to overhaul the look of your stairs.
  • Reduces the slippage of your stairs.
  • Personalize stairs by introducing colors and designs you associate with the most.

While we highly encourage you to add a bit of paint to your stairs, there are some factors you ought to look at before you go all in. Some problems associated with painted stairs, for instance, will include:

  • A time-consuming process, especially if you are doing it yourself.
  • Paint on hardwood may increase its slipperiness if not done correctly. 

Should Stairs Match Flooring; Upstairs or Downstairs Flooring?

When designing the upstairs and downstairs flooring to your house, stairs should coordinate to offer a seamless transition between the two. Darker colored stairs can be used as long as they are complementary to the flooring.  If you have a hardwood floor and want to have different colors, you can do a few things to create the desired uniformity.

Use a Runner

You can lay a runner on your stairs and let it run onto the upstairs hallway floor. This will give your stairs an excellent design that will match them while still exposing the hardwood floor to be seen.

Match the Midway Landing

You can match the midway landing with the upstairs and downstairs risers and treads, respectively.

What Is The Best Color for Stairs?

Each step of a stair has two parts, the tread and the riser that is beneath it. While most people opt to focus their colors on the tread, the riser is most visible. The risers can be coordinated with various colors and patterns, depending on your preference. While white has been a traditionally preferred default color, more and more homeowners are choosing darker hues. Black works very well and makes the stairs easily noticeable to anyone in the house.

Classic White

If you are after that classic painted look, pure white is the right paint for you. It hides imperfections and brightens the spaces that would otherwise have been dark.

Side-view of a home staircase with white railings and brown painted walls


Getting the right color matching, you can make a significant impact on your staircase. You can either choose to have the risers and treads have the same colors or paint them differently to create some contrast. 

Bright colorful flight of stairs in a public building

What Color Should my Handrail Be?

Where it is about painting or repainting your handrail, a few factors come into play. For instance, your home and interior design style, the statement you wish to make with your design, among others. They are all, however, dependent on your tastes. Check out some hacks to help you pick the right color choice.


Many wooden handrails are left in their natural colors. This is because the wood hue is striking and blends better with wooden surfaces.

Oak and white stair case home interior


If you have a white wall or white accents, a white banister will create a stunning complexion. You will want a handrail that blends when you have a tiny space or where the handrail is not striking by itself. However, you should note that a white railing is high maintenance compared to darker colors.

Wooden staircase made from laminate wood in white modern house

Using Other Colors

Any color will be viable for your handrail as long as it fits well with the style and preference of your interior decor. A white room can, for instance, have a black handrail, and this will make the banister stand out even more while giving the room a lovely modern feel and strong contrast.

Spiral staircase of a luxury home

How do You Make Painted Stairs not Slippery?

If your painted stairs are slippery, there are some solutions that you could try out and solve this. Only use these solutions on treads that are straight and level rather than slanted ones. If you have a case of slanted treads, avoid slips by leveling the slant.


The first option would be to try carpeting your staircase. In addition to reducing the likelihood of slipping, the carpeting will add a bit of luxury to your staircase. However, care should be taken in narrow treads as the unsupported carpet at the edge of each tread can cause slips and falls. If your staircase has narrow and uneven treads, you could buy individual carpeting for each stair.

Click here for non-slip carpet protector on Amazon.

Anti-Slip Paint

There is a unique non-slip paint that could be applied over your treads to prevent slips. The paint can either be purchased online or from hardware stores around you. There are a variety of colors you could choose from depending on your preferences.

Click here for anti-slip paint on Amazon.

Non-Slip Strips

For a slippery staircase, you can as well install some no-slip strips on it and make it less slippery. They are easy options to buy and install and are comfortable on your feet, durable, and will last for a long time.

Click here for stair treads on Amazon.


A painted staircase will switch up a standard looking space into a modern and sophisticated house. However, most people shy off painting their stairs as it is still a huge gamble when done in the wrong way. With the right guidance, you can paint the best staircase and be the talk of interior décor. 


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One comment

  1. Very informative blog! All the information provided by you is really helpful for all. I agreed that tack cloth is the best cleaning tool than any other, it is really helpful for removing tiny dust particles over any surfaces. A good tack cloth makes your work easier. Thank you for sharing this article. Keep posting!

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