If you’ve been around for a long time or if you’ve gone through and looked at all our home tour photos you may remember how dark our house was when we first moved in.

The stairway in our backsplit was no exception.

Stairs before

This set of stairs is just off the kitchen and dining room with the side door entrance to the right (from this angle).

Old vinyl tile, orange parquet and handrail, mustard colored walls and an ugly runner held in place with rods. Not so pretty.

We removed the old runner and painted the risers awhile back. But when we replaced the flooring with our darker laminate, the orange stairs and railing really stood out. And not in a good way!

So I took on the task of painting the stairs.

white painted stairs distressed runner

I’m not going to share a how-to for painting stairs but I will share my tips for making it an easier process.

Tips for painting stairs:

  • Sand at least a little. I sanded by hand just enough to remove the top level shine on both the stair treads and the railing.
  • Use quality primer. I used the rather pricey Zinzer primer. It’s amazing stuff and despite lots of up and down over several weeks already there are zero scuffs or chips.
  • Use quality paint. I used flooring paint from Sherwin Williams over the primer to get a solid finish. I’ve been able to mop the treads and wipe the railing with no peeling or wearing away of paint.
  • Apply sufficient coats. I applied two coats of primer and about three coats of paint. This gave me full coverage of the old orange wood and a high level of durability.
  • Paint either every other step at once and then do the opposite steps or paint half of every step and then the other half when the first is dry. I did the half and half method because any overlap in paint would be hidden by the runner. The choice is yours.

X base desk settee black and white picture wall

Installing a stair runner

Installing the runner was pretty easy.

We simply ordered a regular runner that was a good width (about 26 inches wide) and longer than we needed for our stairs. If you have a lot of stairs you could order more than one and piece them together just under the lip of a stair tread without anyone knowing. Our runner is from here.

Dean marked the center of each step between the wall and the railing (NOT the edge of the steps) and then using a square marked the 13 inch line on either side of that center mark (to make a total of 26″ for the runner to line up with).

Then he stapled the runner to the risers working his way up the stairs to ensure the runner stayed square. You could start at the top, but because of the quarter round at the bottom of our steps it was less noticeable to put the cut end of the rug at the top tucked under the lip of the upstairs floor.

wood floor painted stairs brick wall scripture decal

I think the whole process took about a month and a half to complete. But we were working on other things at the same time and had company intermittently too, so you could complete it faster if you wish.

Also we have a funny jut out on the ceiling and the floor and nothing seems to be centered (shaking my fist at whoever planned the ceiling fixture placements in this house!), but even given that I think the space looks far more elegant and beautiful now.

What do you think of our new stairs? Have you ever painted stairs or installed a stair runner?


shannon photo and sig oct 2022

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  1. Your stairs look great. I love the flooring and how bright it is now. I attempted painting our stairs but they had such thick stain (that was a huge mess to get up), I decided to just carpet the entire steps. I love the painted look though. Nice job.

    1. Yeah. It was my intention to stain the treads and only paint risers. But the stain didn’t take well, so I painted instead.

  2. Thanks for sharing these valuable tips Shannon.
    Much appreciated!
    Can you possibly let me know where the stencil on the side wall comes from?
    If possible, I would LOVE to give it to my granddaughter as a house warming present!
    All the best from England,

    1. Hi Vic! It’s actually a vinyl stick on. It’s from Old Barn Rescue Company. 🙂