Design and Decor Our Home

The Best Paint Colors For Staircase To Spruce Up Your Treads And Risers

This guide, the best paint colors for staircase to spruce up your treads and risers, will guide you on what you need to know on how to paint and the best color paint that you can use to brighten up your stairwell. Painting the stairs whether you want to paint the entire stairwell, just the treads, or just the risers with the best finish and with the right color can make your stairwell become a focal point of your entire hallway because it has the ability to totally change the entire look of your hallway. If you are thinking of changing the old paint job of your wooden stairs or are planning to remove an old carpet in your stairs to paint them, below are the important things to know about painting stairs.

What Is the Best Type Of Paint Finish For Staircase?

When it comes to the best paint for stairs, most professionals choose satin or semi-gloss paint finishes since they are both durable (because they have a harder finish) and look excellent on hardwood floors. These paints are commonly used as floor paints as well. Wood surfaces that are in good condition, a good primer coat, a base layer and a top coat using oil or water based paint are also needed to have long lasting painted stairs.

Floor paint that is a suitable paint for wood floors is the most ideal paint to use for your stairs. It has a very hard-wearing finish, easy to clean and very resistant to stains. Below are the most highly rated best paint types for wood stair that also come in different colors:

INSL-X SU031009A Anti-Slip Coating/ Acrylic Paint – Known for its high traffic slip resistant paint also considered to be the best paint that you can use for stair risers.

Slip Doctors Tuff Grip Paint – This paint can transform your wood surfaces into a skid-free surface.

FIXALL Skid Grip Anti-Slip Paint, 100% Acrylic Skid – Ideal for enhancing the safety of high-traffic areas because the acrylic texture can turn your wood surface into a skid-resistant surface.

Rust-Oleum 1979502 Painter’s Touch Latex Paint – The acrylic solution is water-based and provides long-lasting protection.


Consider Hallway Color Scheme Before Starting Your Stairwell Painting Job

A tastefully designed entryway sets the tone for the rest of the house and introduces your personal style to everyone that walks through the door. Unfortunately, this part of the house is often neglected and can lead to gloomy looking hallway and stairwell. This can look uninspiring and make you feel like you are in a tunnel. So before you even start your staircase DIY project, below are some decorating ideas to create a welcoming and inspiring hallway and stairs.

The color of the stairwell will brighten up a white hallway. If your hallway and stairs are gloomy and dark, try to paint your hallway wall with white paint and stairwell risers with white which can definitely brighten up your space in an instant.

Select the proper stain and or paint for your stairs that will complement or blend well with the primary color scheme of the surrounding area of your hallway to achieve the ambiance or style that you would like for your entryway or foyer. Below are decor ideas to transform your stairs into a stylish one:


best paint for staircase

The before and after picture of our stairwell. We decided to change the treads, banisters and spindles to achieve modern design elements. The risers are painted with the same paint color as our the stairs and hallway walls while the treads and handrails are stained with a color as close as possible to our laminate flooring. This allowed us to achieve a classic and timeless beauty. We added  a modern element to our stairs by using black iron spindles.

  • Pick a contrasting color for your banisters and spindles –¬†Choosing a bright contrast color for banisters and spindles makes your hallways stand out and is also a terrific way to modernize your hallway concept.

best paint for staircase

best paint for staircase

  • Make a bold statement – If you have a great source of natural light and a pretty good sized hallway, do not be afraid to use bold paint colors for your stairs as it provides a positive ambiance. Remember dark colors can be overpowering and to avoid this from happening, paint your stairs wall with white color paint. To learn more about the basic understanding of color and color schemes used by interior designers, see 84 Beautiful Inside Front Door Paint Color Ideas.

best paint for staircase

  • Stair runners: to have or not to have? – Wood treads with white risers is all you need to make a stunning stairwell. However, they can be slippery and create unnecessary noise. This is why there is a need to install a stair runner not only for safety purposes but also as a noise eliminator. Aside from that, stair runners also protect the beauty of your white painted risers and the stunning wood paint from the wear and tear that comes with a high traffic surface (especially if you have pets or kids). It also adds another layer of design texture to your hallway. The old boring tunnel like stairs and hallway will be just a thing of the past.

best paint for staircase

We decided to install a runner not only to add flair to our hallway but also for safety reasons because we realized that our newly installed hardwood treads were pretty slippery.

More Best Paint Color For Staircase Ideas

Inspiration From Benjamin Moore

Combination of white and off white – The risers are painted using the same color of the wall while the treads are painted with white that matches that room’s trim. By doing this, the stairs becomes part of the entire space rather than making a bold statement.

Using contrasting colors – If you want to your stairwell to make a strong statement in your hallway, try to paint your treads, risers and balusters using one color and paint your stringer or baseboard the compliment with the color of your stairs. This will give an instant contemporary look to your hallway.

Two distinct colors equals elegance – Modern, subdued hues are a terrific way to give traditional homes a contemporary spirit.

To Stain Or To Paint Your Stairs?

Stairs and railings are considered to be as one of the high-traffic areas in your home. When you decide to give your stairwell a well deserved makeover, you might be debating whether to paint or stain them or decide if you should do both. Whether you decide to paint or stain your steps, bear in mind that the right paint colors for your stairs can not only change the appearance of your stairs but the interior of your home as well. If it happens that you make the wrong choices, the stairwell can ruin the overall aesthetic of your home. The following painting and stair staining and railing recommendations will assist you in making the best choice.

Staining Stairs

  • For staircases that are already painted and you want to stain them instead, you will need to remove the existing paint from the stairs. This option is costly and more time-consuming compared to painting over stained wood. However, stairs and railings that are well stained and properly sealed can stand the test of time under heavy use, even longer if you add a runner. Staining your stairwell is the practical option if your stairs receive a good amount of foot traffic on a regular basis because you have active kids or pets that are walking around the house.
  • If you have a wooden floor, try to match the color of your stair treads and handrail with the color of your floor to achieve classic and timeless beauty. It does not have to be exact, it can be one shade darker or one shade lighter than your floor color. The combination of lighter shades works well with dark elements or vice versa as long as the overall design remains cohesive and consistent.

Painting Steps

  • Now a days, most homeowners are choosing painting over stained stairs and railings. Painted railings with a color that pops will make your stairs stand out. The spindles and handrails will definitely grab anyone’s attention.
  • Painting over old, stained wood risers, spindles and handrails is one of the most cost-effective ways to give your stairs a facelift.
  • Painted stairs tend to have a shorter time period before they start showing scuff marks or damage as compared to stain. Try to consider the use of stair runners to prevent your painted stairs from being damaged.
  • Using two complementing colors for wooden stairs will create a fantastic look.

Paint and Stained Stairwell

  • If you decide to use both paint and stain for your stairs, consider staining your treads and paint your risers. Painting your stair risers with white color paint is always the best option because it goes well with any wood color stain.

What Is The Best Wood Stair Stain Finish?

Once you decide to stain and have already selected the right stain for your stairs, the next question that may come into your mind is what is the best wood finish that you can use? Stained stairs require a wood treatment to preserve them from fading and from damage. Most of the paint experts recommend to use polyurethane because it has the most lasting and robust coating for wood stairs. Anti-slip coating paint or paint with grit additives can be added directly into the regular wood stain finish if falls and slips are a concern. However, if you are leaning toward a more natural option because you want to display the rustic beauty of the wood itself, a tung oil (penetrating type finish) is for you. Keep in mind though that tung oil finishes need regular maintenance to keep their beauty.

Prep Work And Necessary Fixes For Your Old Stairwell

Now that you have already determined the best paint for your stairs, you are now ready to get your hand’s dirty!

  1. Use safety glasses, rubber gloves and a protective face mask to keep yourself safe during the whole prep work process.
  2. Remove any carpet or covering and nails and staples using a nail puller or claw hammer from your wooden stairs. Check carefully all treads and risers and to make sure that there is not a single nail or staple left.
  3. The next step is to remove all existing varnish or paint, if there is any, by using a paint stripper or by sanding. If you are going to use a paint stripper or varnish stripper, after its application, the paint will start to lift off and the best way to remove the paint is using a paint scraper. After doing this method, you will still need to sand the wood surfaces to give your paint a good flat and smooth finish. However, if you decide to use the sanding method to remove the paint from your stairs, just be reminded that it will create a lot of dust. To contain the dust as much as possible, cover all surrounding areas or objects with dust sheets.
  4. Next, sand the stairs. Use an 80-grit sandpaper if your stairs have an older paint or if they have a rough surface. Follow this with a 240 grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. Sand the entire treads, risers and sideboards. The use of a belt sander will make your sanding easier and faster but hand sanding is also required to smooth the corners.
  5. Once you are done sanding, you will need to make sure that the treads, risers, banisters and spindles are all in good condition. If not, replace the parts that need to be replaced or fixed. Use a high quality wood filler to fill the damaged areas entirely. Allow the wood filler to dry and then smooth the affected area by sanding using a fine sandpaper with a 240 grit sandpaper.
  6. Clean the whole area and thoroughly vacuum and wipe out the dust using a wet towel.
  7. Once everything is dry, clean the stairwell using a cleaning towel which is damp with a sugar soap mixture. The sugar soap will also act as a coating for the paint or stain to help it adhere. Wash all of the surfaces with the sugar soap mixture with a clean wet towel.
  8. Allow this to dry for 24 to 48 hours to ensure that they are completely dry before you begin the painting or staining project. This will ensure that to achieve the best results for your DIY stairs paint job.

Best Paint For Staircase: How To Paint Them

Once you have completed all the preparatory works, you can now begin the painting process.

  1. The first thing you need to do is to cover all the sections that will not be painted such as the part of the stair walls that is connected or butt up to the stairs. Use a high quality masking tape especially if you are painting different sections of the stairs. A good quality painter’s tape will stick easily and you can remove it with ease. You also need to take your time when doing this process to make sure that your tape lines are totally straight because any paint flows in this case will be visible.
  2. Apply the first coat of the undercoat using a paint brush, make sure that it’s not too thick. Allow it dry completely before lightly sanding it with a 240 grit paper, vacuuming everything thoroughly. Repeat the same step for the second coating of undercoat.
  3. After the undercoat has been placed and dried, apply the first layer of topcoat paint in a thin layer using a brush or roller it on in a thin layer. Allow it to dry completely before applying the next coat. If you are using high quality paint, two top coats will be sufficient but if you have time, an additional layer of top coats will greatly improve the paint’s lifespan.
  4. Remove any masking tape after your final top coat has dried completely, taking your time to avoid damaging or splitting the paint. Pull away from the painted edge as you pull it.

How To Stain Your Stairwell

First, you need to verify that you got the right wood stain color you wanted by testing it in an inconspicuous area and let it dry before staining. Once you’re happy with the stain color, read the product label to know specific instructions about the number of applications needed and how long it takes for each coat to dry.

  1. Using a paint brush, for each step, apply the thin coat of stain on the vertical surface first, then the horizontal surface in a quick manner. Using this method will allow you to simply smooth out any drips.
  2. Apply the stain in the direction of the wood grain by bushing it on.
  3. Allow time for the stain to penetrate the wood based on the manufacturer’s instructions before the application of the next coat. Using a dry cloth, remove any excess stain. Remember, to always apply stain the in the same direction of the wood grain.
  4. After staining and after your final coat of stain has completely dried, apply at least two coats of polyurethane varnish to protect the surface. However, before application of the polyurethane finish, lightly sand the surface with fine grit sandpaper or a sanding block. Using a tack cloth or a shop vac, remove sanding dust. Keep in mind, that you need to meticulously follow the manufacturer’s directions about on how to prepare and apply the polyurethane finish.
  5. Working from the top stair down, apply the first layer of varnish using a paintbrush. Allow for complete drying time.
  6. Remove all sanding dust by going over the surfaces again with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a second coat and let it dry completely either overnight or over the course of 24 hours. After that time, your stairs are ready to walk on.

I hope that my guide on the best paint colors for staircase help you to find the right paint colors for your stairs.


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