Painted Stairs – A stunning way to transform your space

Painted stairs, a fun project I’m excited to share here today.
If you’ve ever contemplated zhushing up your stair treads with a fresh coat of paint, today’s post is for you!
painted numbered staircase

Our Painted Stairs Reveal

This is our back staircase.

The first time I wrote about this was way back in March, 2010, I did a post about the “before” stairs along with various painted staircase ideas.

Checking out different ideas online is always the first thing I do with any of my diy projects.

Since these steps only lead to the home gym on the second floor over our garage, I thought adding a paint color here would be a great way to do something a little out of the ordinary.

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do…

I looked at a lot of different inspirational images, and eventually chose a hybrid.

It took me forever to get this project accomplished, and it’s still technically not done.

Our interior designer Lauren, helped me to narrow down my ideas a little bit, pick some paint colors and find a skilled painter familiar with the specialist floor paint needed here.

Using the right paint is key here and the best way to approach a project like this.

As you can see here, this particular staircase is a bit unique in that there are no newel posts.

So, I sourced the banister stair rails by using window hardware from Restoration Hardware and the rope is from my local hardware store.

However, now that I’ve seen the finished project, the only thing I would change is to get some sturdier rope, probably from home depot.

Does anyone know of a good source?

PS: Why it’s ok to paint over hardwood wood floors!

painted stairs with numbers on risers
What do you think of our painted stair runner, would you try this idea?
I’m pretty happy with the way it looks, it’s so fun and eye catching!
If you’re going to try this idea – be sure to fill in any gaps or small holes with wood filler first to achieve the most seamless look.

In fact, I asked our painter if he could give a me a step by step guide for painted stairs, here’s what he had to say.

Materials and Tools:

  1. TOP TIP –:Choose a high-quality paint that is durable and suitable for stairs. Consider using floor or patio paint for added durability.
  2. Primer: If your stairs are bare wood or have a dark color, use a primer to ensure better paint adhesion.
  3. Sandpaper: Sand the stairs to create a smooth surface for painting.
  4. Painter’s Tape: Use painter’s tape or frog tape to protect areas you don’t want to paint, such as the walls or the railing.
  5. Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheets: Cover the surrounding area to protect it from paint splatter.
  6. Paint Tray and Roller: A paint tray and roller can make the painting process faster and more efficient.
  7. Paintbrush: Use a high-quality brush for cutting in and painting edges.
  8. Stir Stick: Stir the paint thoroughly before starting.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Prep work:
    • Remove any old carpet or existing finish from the stairs.
    • Clean the stairs thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
    • Fill any holes or cracks with wood filler and sand the surface to create a smooth finish and the most seamless look.
  2. Sand the Stairs:
    • Sand the stairs to roughen the surface slightly. This helps the paint adhere better.
    • Wipe away any dust with a damp cloth.
  3. Apply Primer (if needed):
    • If your stairs are bare wood or have a dark color, apply a coat of primer and let it dry completely.
  4. Tape and Protect:
    • Use paint tape to protect the edges of the stairs, the walls, and any other areas you don’t want to paint.
    • Cover the surrounding area with drop cloths or plastic sheets to prevent paint splatter.
  5. Start Painting:
    • Stir the paint thoroughly.
    • Use a brush to cut in and paint the edges of the stairs.
    • Use a roller for the main flat surfaces. Work from the top of the stairs downwards.
  6. Allow to Dry:
    • Follow the drying time recommended on the paint can between coats.
  7. Apply Additional Coats (if needed):
    • Depending on the color and type of paint, you may need to apply additional coats. Follow the recommended drying time between coats.
  8. Remove Tape and Clean Up:
    • Once the paint is dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape.
    • Clean your brushes and rollers according to the instructions on the paint can.
  9. Allow for Cure Time:
    • Even though the paint may feel dry, it’s essential to allow sufficient cure time before heavy use. Especially in high-traffic areas. Follow the paint manufacturer’s recommendations.

Remember to follow safety guidelines, work in a well-ventilated area, and use appropriate safety gear, such as a mask and goggles, especially if you’re working with chemicals or sanding materials.

painted stairs in beach house.

We ended up loving this idea so much we painted the stairs in our former beach house, seen above.

Additional home project ideas:

If you’re looking for even more paint ideas and home design inspiration, be sure to check out these other posts by clicking on each title below-

Don’t miss this post for even more helpful paint colors for your home’s trim.

How to zhush up your front door.

The best dining room mirror ideas.

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray paint review.

The best paint color for white walls.

before shot of staircase
the “before” shot – of our wooden stairs with our plain bare wood old stair risers
numbered stairs with rope
The inspiration aka the original painted stairs idea I love how the natural wood still shines through here.

Hope you loved this somewhat quirky home decor idea!

A few more things…

Design lovers! Have you joined our fun and VERY helpful design Facebook group?

In this private group, members share photos with their design questions and dilemmas from their own home. We all chime in with our best advice!

It’s also great for sourcing hard to find items and pieces.

Lastly, to help you even further with your home projects, download my FREE DESIGN CHEAT SHEET, it’s loaded with all sorts of quick tips and handy measurements.

Click here to grab that, it’ll be super helpful!

Leave a Comment


  1. pve design wrote:

    "Throw me a rope!' ….up those stairs.
    I would go to a "Yacht" store if there is such a thing and get a nautical sail rope…I love that chunky knot at the end….

    Published on 9.17.11 · Reply
  2. annie wrote:

    I hope these stairs are easily seen from a major part of the house…it would be a shame for visitors not to see them. Love the color and the numbers, the rope hand rail and the light fixture…well I guess I love it all!

    Published on 9.16.11 · Reply
  3. Nuha wrote:

    this is such a cute idea!

    Published on 9.16.11 · Reply
  4. babe. what are you gonna do when you get EVERYTHING in your house done! looks great! donna

    Published on 9.16.11 · Reply
  5. Leigh Hendry wrote:

    You might also consider industrial cable if the rope stretches too much.

    Published on 9.16.11 · Reply
  6. Hi Sue, this is the place to try: They are amazing! Good luck!

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply
  7. Sue, what an amazing job you have done!
    I can only imagine how hard it would have been to line up all the numbers.. Mamma Mia!

    Fantastic work – I'm very impressed!

    x Charlotta

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply
  8. Looks great! I've seen Sarah Richardson do this in a couple of places and I love the numbered stairs. Cute rope too. 🙂

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply
  9. Bawled over creative ideas such as this!

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply
  10. Nuit wrote:

    so cool!!! again, it's better than the inspiration!

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply
  11. Kathysue wrote:

    Love love it!! I like anything with a number on it and the stairs is a perfect spot for counting!! Kathysue

    Published on 9.15.11 · Reply