How to paint a hallway above the stairs

Updated July 12, 2018

Paint a hallway above the stairs to bring out the beauty of handcrafted balusters, play on a whimsical stair treatment or connect with the upstairs design scheme. Consider whether you intend to hang art on the wall above the stairs or leave it empty; whether you want to paint in two tones, above and below chair rail moulding; or whether you want the space to feel light and airy or cosy and full of mystique. Learn how to paint a hallway above the stairs to create the right mood for your home.

Consider the size of the area that the hallway above the stairs occupies. Think twice about labour-intensive paint treatments like vertical stripes or heavy stencilling if the wall is extremely tall and difficult to reach without balancing precariously on a ladder. Choose detailed treatments for small, easy-to-reach hallways above stairs where visual interest is otherwise lacking.

Use faux-finishing techniques such as crackling to distract from or play up old, weathered stairs. Keep paint light, bright and simple to draw attention to artisanal wooden balusters or a cleverly curved staircase. Apply saturated bright paint to contrast with whitewashed stairs -- hot red walls and bright stairs create a pleasing visual tension in a modern home. Accent naturally stained wood stairs with any paint colours that coordinate with both your upstairs and downstairs decor.

Use tape and newsprint to cover the stairs so that you can work without getting paint drips on carpeted or wood stair treatments. Place a ladder with its feet securely on the lower floor and extend it over the stairs when you can no longer reach comfortably to paint above them. Have someone hold the ladder in place while you work to ensure that the ladder does not slip.


Hire someone to paint hallways above stairs that are too high for you to reach safely.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex paint
  • Faux finishing kit
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint rollers
  • Paint tray
  • Newsprint
  • Tape
  • Ladder
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