Painting Wooden Stairs: How Painting Banisters, Handrails and Spindles Can Quickly Update a Home

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While we love the transformation that a full exterior or interior paint service can bring, some of our favorite updates are when clients paint their wooden stairs, banisters, handrails and spindles. Painting stairs and stair rails is a relatively simple update that can totally transform the interior of your home when done right.

painting wooden stairs

How Painting Wooden Stairs Can Quickly Update a Home

Stairs are an important functional element in your home. In some homes, stairs were also built to be stunningly beautiful (think about those giant entryway staircases). In other homes, however, stairs were built on trend with the decade of the home. That means you might be stuck with stairs that get you from point A to point B just fine, but are a less-than-lovely eyesore in your home.

This is where painting wooden stairs, banisters handles and spindles can not only make your staircase look just as beautiful as the rest of your home, it can update its entire look. We’ve seen homes go from 90s builder grade to chic and custom, just by painting the stairs. Here are a few suggestions on how to achieve the look you want when painting stairs.

Paint Stair Handrails and Banisters

If you’re nervous to paint the entire staircase, a great way to get a pop of color or update dated stain is to paint just the handrails and banisters. Try a soft black if you want to bring in a classic look to your home. Or if you want a crisp, clean look, paint your handrails and banisters white. A uniform and streamlined look is achieved when you paint the handrails and banisters to match your existing trim.

Paint Stair Treads

If your staircase is stained too dark or light, or you just don’t like the wood look of your stairs, painting the treads (where your foot steps) only can help the remaining, unpainted wood fade into the background. The right color can also make the wood and paint color look intentional and planned. It all depends on the look you’re going for. Treads and uprights (see below) are also the perfect places to add bold pops of color.

We recommend using darker colors on the treads, however. Since they’ll be seeing a lot of foot traffic, the paint will take a bit of a beating. Darker colors tend to hide existing imperfections well, and can help hide wear and tear over the years.

painted stairs and railings before and after

Paint Stair Uprights

Stair uprights are the part of the stairs that hold up the treads and face out into your home. Uprights are a great place to play with color. We’ve seen dark stained wood stairs take on a stately look when the uprights are painted a bright white. We also love when clients go a bold with their stair uprights, painting them in ombre tones, olive greens, charcoal or even red. The nice thing about painting uprights is that they’re one of the easier parts of the stairs to update, so if you get tired of the color in a few years, you can bring in the pros to change up the look in no time at all.

Paint Stair Spindles

Stair spindles are arguably the part of the staircase that can most date the look of your house. This is especially true if the spindles have never been painted, or it’s been a long time since the paint has been updated. We really like when clients want to give spindles a new look because this is one place where a new coat of paint can really pop. Paint the banister black and the spindles white for a truly classic look that never goes out of style. Or, you can paint the spindles the same color as your banister, handrails and trim for a uniform look. We’ve even had clients who paint the spindles in their favorite accent color for a bold, fun look.

Paint Staircase

While many homeowners want to only paint a part of the stairs, still others want a complete overhaul on their staircase. This is a great opportunity to develop a color scheme that works best for your home’s aesthetics and your desired outcome.

For example, a black and white combo on your staircase can be stunning. Paint the handrails and treads black, and the spindles and uprights white. Or, paint the entire staircase one color, except for the treads. This can be particularly lovely when the banister, spindles and uprights are a light color, and the treads are painted dark.

A professional paint expert will help you decide which color scheme works best for you and your home. Even if you want to go wild with color, they can make sure the colors are applied properly and in the right way so your stairs look perfect for years to come.

painted staircase before after white frame

What You Need to Know When Painting a Wooden Staircase

If you think you want to paint your staircase, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting started.

Painting stairs requires extensive prep work

We are sticklers for correctly preparing any surface for paint. Painting stairs can be a tricky job when it comes to prep work, especially if they are carpeted or damaged. Taping, tarping, sanding, repairing dings & dents, back caulking joints & seams, using the right primer and finally the proper paint sheen and material for durability are just some of the prep work stages.

Painting stairs needs an eye for detail

Painting treads, uprights, spindles and banisters requires an eye for detail. If any of these parts are painted sloppily or without care, it can ruin the look of the staircase. Spindles and banisters take special care to keep the finish smooth and drip free. Brush strokes and roller marks can be avoided with a professional finish application process focused on a smooth final product.

Painting stairs will keep your space updated for years to come

Once you paint stairs for the first time it is much easier to repaint them as they become scuffed up from traffic or if you get tired of the colors. The second time they are painted it goes much quicker, is easier and more cost effective.

Professional Stair Painting Services

Our stair paint experts are ready to help you tackle transforming your stairs with paint. We’re committed to meticulous prep and repair and have an idea for detail so your stairs come out perfect. Contact us today for a free stair painting quote.