How to Decorate Steps & Stairs

Updated July 20, 2017

Stairs are often the focal point of a front entry foyer, so their decoration usually sets a first impression as guests enter a home. There are many ways to transform ordinary step risers into small works of art by decorating them with easy-to-find items and incorporating simple crafting techniques. Most homeowners are able to accomplish decorative stair finishes by themselves, and the result is stairs that have a custom, designer look without spending a great deal of money.

Apply pre-pasted wallpaper to the stairs. Measure each stair riser. Trace the measurement on the back of the wallpaper. Cut out with scissors. Wet the backs of the wallpaper pieces and affix to the stair risers. Smooth out each piece with a wallpaper brush, and wipe away excess glue with a damp sponge. Allow the pieces to dry. Brush each wallpaper riser with a coat or two of polyurethane sealer for a decorative step project with style.

Add rubber stamp designs. Paint the step risers and landings with white latex paint. Using a large rubber stamp with a leaf design, paint the stamp with a paintbrush with a contrasting colour of paint. Press the stamp onto the riser areas, and continue until the steps are complete. Allow to dry, and paint with a coat of sealer to protect the decorative stair finish.

Adhere sheet music. Paint the stair areas with tan or white latex paint. Brush the risers with d├ęcoupage craft glue. Cut sheet music papers to randomly fit, and brush additional d├ęcoupage glue to the fronts of the papers to adhere to the risers. Use an old credit card to press music pages down and to remove any air bubbles for a decorative stair project that is easy and inexpensive.

Add a number stencil. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the step risers and treads in a light hue with latex paint. Tape an appropriate Arabic number stencil to the middle area of each step riser, starting with number one at the bottom stair. Use a stencil brush dipped in black paint to stencil the number on the risers and allow to dry. Protect the finish with sealer as a decorative stair finish with simple elegance.

Paint the stair risers. For a modern look and feel to the stairway area, paint each stair riser a different colour with latex paint and finish with a sealer. Choose either a warm or cool colour palette for the decorative stair finish to create an extremely simple and inexpensive treatment.


Begin each decorative stair finish with washing the stairs with a household cleaner and wiping with a soft cloth. Because wallpaper rolls often are shorter than stair risers, choose a pattern that looks attractive sideways to allow for one cut of wallpaper per riser. Apply additional coats of polyurethane sealer for stairs in high traffic areas for a strong finish.


Apply paint and polyurethane in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhalation of fumes.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-pasted wallpaper
  • Yard stick
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Sponge
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rubber stamp with leaf design
  • Latex paints
  • Sheet music
  • Découpage craft glue
  • Foam brush
  • Old credit card
  • Arabic number stencils
  • Painter's tape
  • Stencil brush
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About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Amy Mosher has been writing interior design and lifestyle articles since 2005. She is a prolific professional blogger, designer, artist and writer for various websites. She holds a bachelor's degree from Mansfield University and is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design.