Can I paint these stairs?

amylvilleJanuary 14, 2008

These are the stairs going up the second floor master in my 1920s bungalow. I have never liked all this oak. I see many of you have white risers and spindles with wood treads. How would I go about painting mine. Would I use a special paint. Are they hard to keep clean? If you look at the second/third pictures these are of the landing at the top of the stairs. Would you paint the part where the spindle connects to the oak trim or leave it? Thanks in advance for your help

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My friend has done this to her stairs and railings and she used an oil based paint rather than latex. But I would think you would need to sand them some to get that finish off of them but I am not sure.

We painted our unfinished basement stairs and also used an oil based paint and have had no problem with peeling or anything.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:53PM
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We are in the process of painting some wood cabinets in a flip house we bought. I sanded them lightly, and then used a good primer/sealer on them before painting them.

I agree, I think I would use a good oil base paint as it is more durable than latex. If you do use latex, then be sure to give it too good coats.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 11:58PM
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I think your stairs are lovely as they are. But if you do decide to paint, you might want to use a painting mit to apply the paint to the spindles; that might be easier and save you a lot of time.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 1:40AM
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Oceanna, what is a painting mit, and have you used one? Sounds intriguing

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 11:50AM
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While I can understand that you hate your stairs, when I saw the picture I felt - ooooh nooo don't paint. But in reality you have to live with them and I understand the need to paint.

My suggestion is to paint the risers but leave the treads wood as walking up and down stairs will wear paint more quickly off the tread. If you want, maybe you can stain the tread to a deep coffee color and with a creamy white riser - that is a classic look. In addition, leave the railing itself unpainted too as it will get handled and rub paint off over time - it can be stained as well. As for painting the spindles, make certain you have plenty of Advil on hand - it's a really tedious job.

Paint mitts are sold in paint departments and stores and used to paint small round things like your spindles. It can make the job easier to do, but it can also be very messy and not apply paint evenly if you aren't careful. It literally is a mitt you wear on your hand, dip into paint, and wipe the paint onto the surface.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 2:19PM
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Only because I just did this- I would not paint the spindles!! It is sooo tedious and I ended up getting paint on the stairs. I used a paint mitt on a set of outside stairs, it only worked because the steps were painted too, but it gets extremely messy. I would just paint the risers for a fresh look- if you feel you absolutely need a change.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 2:47PM
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I know you did not ask for this but had you considered a runner on your steps? That would surely minimize the oak and probably be a lot easier than getting a good paint job.
I'll bet they don't make steps like yours in many houses today!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 3:33PM
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I have a friend who has painted risers and hates them. They are scuffed and chipped and always look dirty. If she could she would strip the paint off and stain it, but the builder used really poor quality wood and she is stuck.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 4:57PM
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I have to say that you could seriously regret painting these beautiful stairs. Are they original to the house? Is there more original oak trim around? Original oak in a 1920 house is a real selling point! The maintance of the paint job could really make you regret it! Once painted... you will always need to touch up or live w/ scuffs, scratches, etc..... A runner or carpet stair treds may be all you need.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 5:28PM
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We have oaks treads and painted risers and spindles, with a mahogany rail (pretty traditional colonial). Ours are not scuffed, but we don't wear shoes in the house. However, the riser for the one step from the porch to the 1st floor is scuffed.

But my first thought when I saw your staircase was: don't paint it! It's a bungalow, that staircase is beautiful! Painting over all that beautiful wood is bell than cannot be unrung. How about a runner and some framed pictures or prints on the left hand wall?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 5:32PM
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I'm going out on a limb here and will guess that's not all original to the house. Looks like the stringers could be, and mabe the treads but the risers look to be replacements or overlays. Was that an enclosed staircase originally? The spindles don't appear to be 1920's bungalo vintage, either. But none of that really matters, your question was about paint. I agree with many here, it would be a huge job to tackle and do well and if you take shortcuts on prep you're in for a real maintenance headache. Love the idea of a runner or carpet treads. I think if you simply break up that sea of oak you'll feel better about it.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 5:51PM
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Actually, These are not original to the house. All the original woodwork is dark stained walnut(I think). But thats a whole different issue. These stairs were part of a attic conversion done probably in the last 10 - 15 years. But thank you for talking me out of painting them! The runner idea sounds like it makes more sense. Any recommendations?????

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 7:57PM
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You can also do something like add stencils.

Here is a link that might be useful: Frugal Ideas for Stair Risers

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 8:38PM
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amylville there';s another thread going right now about stair runners where kitchenkelly asked about mine. Maybe there's some info for you there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stair Runners

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 10:28PM
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