How To Paint Stair Risers [6 Steps Guide]

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

The hallway is a wonderful place to start when making a strong first impression in any home. But wood surfaces can sometimes be very rough, with grains all over. This makes painting a bit of a hassle for most painters, including painting stair risers of our lovely homes.

In the past, all staircases had the same colored, finished wood runner or carpet, but that is no longer the case. Painting stair riser decals is now a widespread practice, allowing homeowners to make a bold and eye-catching statement as soon as a visitor walks through the door.

So, in this article, we will look at everything that has to do with painting our stair risers and cases, including what color to paint your stair risers.

Key Point:

  • Hardwood stairs are no longer slippery as stained or untreated floors
  • You can add a variety of colors and patterns to customize the appearance of your staircase
  • Easy means of refreshing the staircase of your house with this low-cost option.

Should You Paint Stair Risers?

Painting the stair risers in a brilliant, glossy white is customary, while your stair tread is given a coat of stain protection. Despite its attractiveness in legal settings, this may not be the greatest option for every home.

Even if repainting your entire staircase does not fit your home’s style, painting just the risers could still add flair while retaining a warm and classic vibe, as demonstrated by Country Living.

Paint Stair Risers

With proper care, your staircase may become the centerpiece of your home. As a result of their frequent usage and misuse, stairways require ongoing care and attention to keep them in good condition.

To eliminate unattractive scuff marks and restore the paint’s quality, applying a new layer of paint every few months is necessary.

Do not forget to carefully clean the stairs before painting them. Some people prefer to paint their stairs with a protective stain rather than their risers. However, this is not always the greatest option, especially in legal settings.

Why Paint Stair Risers?

Every step has two parts: the tread where your foot drops and your riser that lies just below it. While the stair tread gets the most use, your stair riser is the most noticeable section when viewed from the bottom. As a result, carpeting or tiles are frequently used to adorn stairwells.

Paint Stair Risers

However, these have drawbacks: carpets must also cover the tread, causing it to wear out sooner, and tiles can rapidly become dated.

On the other hand, paint is easier to touch up or cover over than uninstalling and reinstalling tile because it only covers the riser, not the tread.

To give your steps a fresh look, consider painting your stair risers in a color or pattern that suits your style preferences. The same cannot be true if you become sick of tile or carpets.

Painting Stair Risers: Supplies Needed to Paint

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Gloves
  • Nail setter
  • Painter’s tape
  • Mop
  • Sandpaper – medium-grit & Fine-grit
  • Shop vacuum
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Tack cloth
  • Paintbrush – medium-sized or rag
  • Paint scraper – plastic
  • Safety glasses
  • Polyurethane sealant
  • Stain
  • Interior Paint
  • Interior Primer/Sealer

How To Painting the Stair Risers?

 Stair Risers

1. Prepare The Area

To prepare for staining and painting steps, it is necessary to clear the area around the stairwell of any clutter. Furniture, rugs, and other home accents are included in this category.

After sanding away the previous finish, there will be a significant amount of debris in the area. If you leave anything nearby, there will be a lot of dust and debris, paint or stain stains, and splatters.

Ensure the area is completely sealed off to prevent dust from spreading throughout your home. Plastic sheeting should cover adjacent doorways, vents, and electrical outlets.

Using masking tape, secure the sheets of paper to the wall. To prevent the spread of dust, you should close or cover all your windows and doors.

Ventilate the area by opening surrounding windows and removing any dust or residue in the air.

Removing the carpet runner or the entire carpeting of your stairwell is a promising idea. Using pliers, loosen a small section of the carpet. Remove any stumbling blocks using a pry bar. Remove the carpet and padding with the pliers, then throw away the padding.

2. Stairs Need To Be Striped Or Sanded

Using a chemical or sand-based stripper, remove the present tread finish before dyeing and painting your steps as the next step.

Your new stain application will appear better and operate better if you are thorough in the stripping process. Start sanding carefully and accurately with the wood’s grain using mid-grit sandpaper to remove minor nicks, dents, and the existing finish. Remove all the finish of the wood.

Using a sanding block or fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the whole surface using medium/fine sandpaper or sandpaper. Find out from a True Value hardware retail store specialist what grit of sandpaper is best for the wood of your stair railings.

To avoid damaging the wood, it is preferable to start with fine grit and come down to the side of safety if you are unsure of the type. Try it out in an unnoticeable spot on the steps first.

Use a tack cloth and a shop vacuum to remove the dust from the sanding. Chemical strippers are a less time-consuming alternative. Before using a chemical stripper, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and mix it with water if necessary.

Apply the solution to the surface using a mid-sized paintbrush or a clean rag. Then, using a paint scraper (plastic type), rag, or sponge, remove the old stain after 20 to 30 minutes.

Once the old finish has been removed, use a dry clean rag to wipe the surface and expose the raw wood. Wait for it to dry out. Use chemical strippers clearly labeled “no cleanup” or “will wash away with water.”

Use chemical strippers A residue may remain after using a “no cleanup” type of stripper; this residue should be sanded off. A heat gun can be used with other treatments to remove tough finishes.

3. Add stain

Stain the treads following the manufacturer’s recommendations. The number of coats needed and how long every coat takes to dry are detailed in these instructions.

4. Add Finish

Apply, minimum, two layers of polyurethane varnish to the surface when staining is complete and the last layer of stain has dried. To ensure that the polyurethane finish is applied correctly, follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.

Use a sanding block or fine-grit sandpaper to refine the surfaces before applying softly. Use tack cloths or vacuum cleaners to get rid of the sanding dust. First, apply a coat of varnish with a paintbrush, starting at the top and working your way down.

Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Based on the item, this can take between 3 – 8 hours, so be sure to read and follow the directions on the label carefully for the best results.

Use fine-grit sandpaper to clean the surfaces again and clean all sanding residue. Let the second coat dry completely overnight or until the following day. It must be ready to go after that.

5. Start The Priming And Painting

If you are painting and staining at the same time, it is going to be even more difficult. Make certain that the stair tread edges are completely dry before you begin painting.

Seal the edges where the risers and treads meet with painter’s tape. Otherwise, use a mask to keep the paint off anything else. Apply your choice of Interior Primer/Sealer to the riser surfaces.

Use a small paintbrush to apply a single layer or two if necessary. Before continuing, allow each coat to dry completely (overnight is ideal). Then apply your paint next.

Apply a small amount of paint to the bristles of your brush and hit the brush on the can to clear any excess. Use a single, lengthy stroke to apply from the brush’s one side.

Reverse the direction of the stroke and begin unloading the other side where the first one started. A long, light closing stroke should be used on each section. Any time you initiate a stroke, ensure that you brush toward the newly applied paint. Get rid of any splatters or drippings before they dry out.

6. Cleanup Is The Last Step In The Process

Remove all painter’s tape and plastic sheeting from the surface. Items you might have taken out should be returned to their proper locations. For best results, use a roller spinner or a brush to remove any remaining solvent from the brushes.

Put them on hooks or pegs in their safety sleeves afterward. Paint, stain, varnish, and stripping chemicals should be stored in a lockable cabinet for your protection.

See AlsoHow To Paint A House Interior?

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stair Risers?

Semi-Gloss paint was previously the best and most extensively used stair paint. They are easy to clean because they dry to a tougher finish and have a good amount of shine until recently. Treads can become combustible if painted with a satin or a semi-shiny finish, as reported.

Because of this, you must select the correct paint. If your floor paints may be utilized, choose a paint with a significant non-slip factor and a prolonged warranty on the surface.

When painting the risers in white, I recommend using the semi-gloss paint from Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Paint.

Titanium dioxide, which renders the painted white, is found in the highest concentration in this paint. It is the best white paint I have ever used for coverage. Surely, the more coats, the better?

What Color Should I Paint My Stair Risers?

The stair’s architecture can be accentuated with the correct paint colors. Choosing the right color for your custom stairwell might be a problem, given the wide variety of paint options available.

To begin, choose the appropriate formula. We must use flooring-grade paint to ensure that our stairs can withstand the wear and strain they are subjected to. Consider an anti-slip component for the paint if you are painting both the steps and the risers.

Paint Stair Risers

Below are our suggestions based on your needs

  • Timeless White – If you are looking for a stairway that can work with a wide range of interior design styles while also standing the passage of time.
  • Two Tones Color – Staircases can benefit from the proper paint color combination. You can use the same color for the risers and the treads or contrasting colors to make a statement.
  • Emerald Green – Painting your stair riser a vibrant shade of green if you want to make a statement. Painting them is an excellent option if your steps require repair or if you only want to produce a dramatic focal point.
  • Dark Gray – Stairway display in dark gray provides an aura of mystery and sophistication. You might think of the staircase as an accent wall and decorate it with photos and artwork.
  • Sky Blue – To liven up a drab stairwell with a splash of color and personality. A bright and airy color of pale blue may do wonders to open a confined room like a stairwell, which tends to be dark and dimly lit.


Painting the stair risers should be fun because every portion of your house, including the foyers and halls, has a set of stairs. When painting the visible portions of your home, like stair risers, your goal should be to enhance and not obliterate your home’s decor.

The most neutral hues, black and white, go well with anything. Stair risers painted in these colors can be paired with a distinct color for balance.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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