How to repaint stairs

Written by lisa wampler
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How to repaint stairs
Painted stairs can really accent the colour choices in your home. (David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The paint on a staircase eventually wears out due to the foot traffic up and down the staircase. In addition, when people go up and down the stairs, they often rub against the banister newels, which are the vertical posts between the stair treads and the banister railing. Due to the continual use and abuse of a painted staircase, you can expect to repaint your stairs more often than you paint your walls.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Dust sheets
  • Orbital sander
  • Sponge sander
  • Straightedge
  • Paintbrush or paint sponge
  • Paint roller

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  1. 1

    Place dust sheets over the carpet runners if you have any installed on your stairs. Mask off any areas you do not plan to paint such as the joint between the stair risers and the wall. Use painter's tape to mask off the area.

  2. 2

    Attach a piece of 600-grit sandpaper to your orbital sander and lightly sand the flat surfaces of the staircase. You do not have to sand down to the bare wood. Sand lightly to create a scratched surface to help the new paint bond to the old paint. Do not hold the orbital sander in one place for a long period. Move the sander in a circular motion, overlapping your stokes. This will keep the sander from burning through the paint into the wood.

  3. 3

    Sand the hard to reach areas such as the newels (vertical posts) on the banister with a 600-grit sanding sponge. If you choose to use different sandpaper grit, make sure you use the same grit of sandpaper for both the orbital sander and the sponge to ensure a uniform texture.

  4. 4

    Wipe the entire surface area of the staircase down with a tack cloth to remove paint and wood dust.

  5. 5

    Paint the hand railing and banister newels first with a paintbrush or paint sponge. Use vertical strokes with when painting the newels and use horizontal stokes on objects like the banister railing, if you choose to paint it. Overlap your strokes to ensure consistent coverage. Work to blend the strokes to avoid brush marks. Follow the drying times listed on the paint can, as the times will vary depending on brand, temperature and humidity. However, in general, 24 hours is usually enough time.

  6. 6

    Paint the base of the stair tread around the vertical newels with a paintbrush. This is called "cutting-in." Cutting-in paint is the practice of using a paintbrush to paint around had to reach areas that attach to flat surfaces you would typically use a paint roller to paint. Paint a circle onto the stair tread around the newels with paintbrush in a circular motion.

  7. 7

    Place a straight edge up against the edge of the carpet runner and cut-in a line of paint with the paintbrush. Do this by painting a straight line with the brush while you butt the brush up against the straightedge. The straight edge will prevent getting paint onto the runner. Do this for the runners on the treads and on the risers. If you do not have a carpet runner on the stairs, forgo this step.

  8. 8

    Paint the stair treads and risers with a paint roller. Roll the paint roller from front to back on the stair tread. Use a W pattern to ensure you overlap the storks and provide adequate coverage. Paint the risers from left to right and overlap each stroke by 50 per cent to ensure adequate coverage. Again, follow the drying times listed on the paint can, as the times will vary depending on brand, temperature and humidity.

  9. 9

    Inspect the painted surfaces for any missing paint that you might have overlooked during the panting process. Touch up any missing spots on the stairs with a paintbrush. Overlap the painted area around the missing paint slightly to help blend in the touch-up paint. Again, wait until the paint dries if the touched up areas are where you will walk.

  10. 10

    Remove the painter's tape from the staircase.

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