How to paint a staircase – expert guide to transforming hallways by painting steps

Give your stairs a fresh new look with a splash of floor paint
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  • If you want to make a good first impression in your home, there’s no better place to start than in the hallway. As the first room you see on entering a house, a hallway is always worthy of  a re-fresh. A simple way to update an entrance is by giving the stairs and banister a fresh lick of paint.

    Follow our handy step-by-step DIY and decorating guide of how to paint a staircase, using specialist floor paint, to give your own lobby a new lease of life with a splash of colour.

    Freshly painted wooden stairs can look stylish just as they are, or alternatively can provide the perfect fresh canvas on which to lay a striking carpet runner. Either way, a fresh coat of paint on the stairs goes a long way to lifting the decor.

    staircase before and after painting

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    How to paint a staircase

    Top tips before you get started

    • Start early or when the rest of the household are in the garden or busy downstairs and don’t need access for a while. Or make a start once the kids have gone to bed for the night. Meaning you may have to paint over the course of a few days.
    • Factor in time to ensure the paint is fully dry before anyone walks on it. Because the longer you leave it to dry, the more hard-wearing it will be. If your only loo is upstairs, you’ll need to plan around it.
    • Paint in order, so start at the top and work your way down. Or vice versa depending on where you want to finish, you don’t want to get stuck on the wrong floor. This may sound obvious, but it can be easy to get caught out.

    What you’ll need

    • Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Floor Paint
    • Sander / Dust mask
    • Paint scraper
    • Wood filler
    • Paint brush
    • Cleaning solution / Cleaning cloth
    • Masking tape
    • Paint roller / Paint tray

    1. Prepare the steps

    how to paint a staircase prepare each step by sanding

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    Remove any old carpet from your wooden stairs. You need to make sure the surface is in good condition before you start. Repair any loose or broken areas, fill any dents with wood filler and sand any rough patches to prepare the floor for painting. The bonus of a specialist paint nowadays is that it can be painted straight over old paint or varnish, so no need to fear hours of more sanding ahead of you.

    Once complete, vacuum up any dust and clean with a cleaning solution and cloth.

    2. Choose the correct paint

    How to paint a staircase choose the right paint

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    Whether you’re sticking to the same hallway colour scheme all over or painting a striking stair runner, choose the right paint. Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Floor Paint is ideal.

    The hard-wearing, water-based paint resists knocks and scratches and can be applied directly to wooden floorboards or concrete flooring, and directly over old paint or varnish – with no topcoat needed.

    Top tip: Tape off areas if needed. If you’re painting stairs in different colours or painting a runner, mark out your design using decorator’s tape.

    3. Start painting

     painting a staircase step-by-step

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    Apply the Chalky Finish Floor Paint ensuring there are no drips. Use a brush for any details and angles where stair riser and tread meet. You can use a small foam roller for any larger, flat surfaces.

    Don’t be tempted to apply thick coats of paint, the coverage will last much longer if you paint a few thin coats rather than one thick coat. Wait until each coat is fully dry before applying the next one – aim for a minimum of two coats, more may be required.

    4. Take off the tape and clean

    Painted staircase in white paint to create a bright hallway

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    Remove any decorator’s tape. Once completely dry, give a final brush or vacuum. Then stand back to admire your handiwork!

    A thoughtful painted staircase idea is to mix colours to give the look more depth – choosing to paint the rises in the same colour as the edging and bannisters (in this case white), while adding a subtle splash of colour to the step itself (in this case light grey).

    Painted hallway staircase with grey bag of flowers

    Image credit: Pete Helme Photography / Rust-Oleum

    A freshly painted staircase makes all the difference, especially in hallways – where first impressions count. Of course due to the heavy footfall on the stairs they will require a resh coat of paint every few years, depending on how well they are looked after – to prevent excessive wear and tear.

    And that’s how to paint a staircase. Happy decorating to one and all.

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