Secret DIY Guide to Painting Stairs, Stencils, & Decorative Runners

From on July 30, 2009 in Painting

Wood stairs need to be spruced up from time to time. Do it yourself in two days or less. A fresh coat of paint works wonders, or if you’re feeling crafty, overhaul the stairs with new stenciling or even paint a decorative stair runner. For perfect results, try using a few of my time-honored super secret painting tips.

stair-runner.jpgPhoto Credit: House of Turquoise


Most interior designers recommend using two coats of paint and 2-3 coats of sealant to protect the stairs from dings and dents. Colors & styles depend on individual taste and the room you want to accent. Stair risers can be painted white to offset natural pine tread, or you can be bold and go with coffee brown.

If you want this project done to perfection, keep these fail-safe tips in mind:

  • Choose the right paint color or stain; use color patches.
  • Sand thoroughly. Remove dust with a damp cloth or vacuum.
  • Start painting the stairs at the top and work your way down.
  • For a smooth finish, use long, even brush strokes and paint the grain of the wood.
  • If the stairs can’t be blocked off, paint every other tread.
  • Allow 6 hours for each coat of paint to dry.
  • Use three coats of polyurethane to seal the stairs.

Paint a distinctive runner A stair runner reduces the footfall noise level and certainly completes any set of stairs. If carpet’s not your style, a painted stair runner is a great alternative. This type of project is moderate in difficulty but very unique in display. You’ll need to be on your game with your design pattern and use of painter’s tape. The experts say to be patient. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Make shapes with flexible poster board.
  • Use latex porch paint and floor enamel.
  • Map out a design pattern by dry-laying your shapes.
  • Use painter’s tape to outline stripes.
  • Plan how to get up & down the painted stairs.
  • Paint one color or section at a time to avoid bleeding.
  • Gently remove tape while paint is drying.