Design Ideas for Painted Staircases

While stained stairs have a classic look, adding colour and pattern to a staircase can infuse the surrounding area with personality. You can transform the look of your stairs in several ways, but paint is usually the easiest and most inexpensive option. It is also extremely versatile because it can be used to create a variety of patterns and designs that allow you to find a customised look for your staircase.

Risers Only

Some types of paint can be slippery when applied to the treads of a staircase. To avoid this problem, leave the tread with a natural wood finish and paint only the riser portion of the stairs. White is an attractive colour option when paired with wood that has a lighter stain, while richer shades like brown and navy complement darker stained treads. If you prefer a bolder look, however, paint the risers in a variety of colours for a rainbow effect.

Two Tone

If you prefer to paint both the risers and treads in your staircase, painting them a single colour is an effective way to cover any surface damage in the wood. However, for a more interesting look, paint the risers and treads two different colours. You may choose two shades that are similar in tone for a subtle look, or opt for contrasting tones, such as black and white, for a bolder look. When choosing paint colours for your stairs, factor in the decor in the surrounding area and select shades that complement the rest of your home's colour palette. Use floor and porch enamel paint when covering the entire staircase because it is more durable than other types of paint.

Faux Runner

Runners are often used to cover stairs because they provide traction and can provide colour and pattern to the staircase. However, you can use paint to create an inexpensive faux runner for your staircase. You can use tape to create geometric patterns, ranging from simple to complex. For a basic look, paint the staircase a solid colour and layer a second shade over it to mimic the look of a runner. Use tape to create a diamond shape in the centre of a tread and paint it in a third colour.


For an easy painted design for your staircase, stencils are an ideal option. They are available in a wide range of shapes and patterns, so you can customise the look of your staircase. You can use small stencils all over the stair to give a carpet-like look, or opt for one large stencil shape in the centre of the tread. For a truly personalised look, stencil words on the risers of your staircase. You can use song lyrics or a quote from your favourite book. Adding your family members' names can be a fun touch as well.

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About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.