How to Paint Stairs {the Easy Way}

I shared our attic stair makeover a few weeks ago, and (in usual scattered Rachel fashion), I’m just getting around to the “how to” that I promised.

I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath…

Step by step instructions on how to paint stairs - amazing transformation! #diy #tutorial

Ok, maybe not.  But a girl can pretend, can’t she?!  In all honesty, this might be one of the most dramatic makeovers we’ve done.  Not because the before is so different from the after (because if that’s the comparison, then our attic definitely takes the cake… or maybe our master bath… or heck, the whole house).  Nope, it’s dramatic for me because it. is. just. paint.

Step by step instructions on how to paint stairs - amazing transformation! #diy #tutorial

I’ve always said a coat of paint can go a long way, and BOY does this prove me right!  And I kind of like being right… but I digress.

The case at hand: how to paint stairs {and prove Rachel right 😉 }.

I confess that I was dreading this (and I usually like to paint!), which is probably why it took me almost a year after we finished the rest of the attic to complete it.  Oops.  But honestly, it wasn’t that bad!

Totally transformed by paint! Gorgeous, simple black and white painted staircase |

The key?  A HomeRight Finish Max Pro*.  The nice folks at HomeRight sent me one to try, and they singlehandedly saved me HOURS of painting.  Remember what these stairs looked like before?

Attic Stairs (before few)

I sanded the corners of the new treads (which we put in to replace broken ones) so they would match the worn edges of the old ones and caulked the seams.

I then primed the raw wood (places that had worn over the years and the two new treads).  While doing that, I slapped on a little primer over the risers because I knew I was planning to paint them white instead of brown.  And when I say slapped, I mean it only took about 10 minutes total.  Lightening something up that much is always easier with a little primer.

Attic Stairs (primer)

Then came the fun part.  I taped off the walls and started spraying.

Step by step instructions on how to paint stairs - amazing transformation! #diy #tutorial

I was really worried about overspray ruining all the hard work we’d done in the attic, but the spray was very containable – just a few inches.  And the coverage was amazing.  Just one coat did almost all of it.  I went back a couple hours later and touched up just a few spots.  After letting it dry completely, I went in with a brush (starting at the top, of course!) and painted the black.

Totally transformed by paint! Gorgeous, simple black and white painted staircase |

Fully covering the white with black by hand was way more work than spraying the entire unit.  It took two coats of black to fully cover.

Step by step instructions on how to paint stairs - amazing transformation! #diy #tutorial

And they were so worth it.  Wouldn’t you agree?

pin it imageStep by step instructions on how to paint stairs - amazing transformation! #diy #tutorial

Disclosure: I was compensated for my review of HomeRight’s Finish Max Pro, but as always, opinions and obsession with time-saving devices are 100% my own!

*affiliate link


Fabulous step-by-step tutorial at

My Whitewashed Attic

Great curb appeal ideas |

Updated Facade

Who couldn't use more beautiful and functional storage? Don't miss this DIY mud room unit in the laundry room at

DIY Mud Room Unit

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  1. Great projects of transformation Rachel!….and love the transformation of your home~ ~ ~ just beautiful !!

  2. Rachel the stairs turned out great and I would never have thought about spraying them. Excellent idea!

  3. SUCH a transformation! LOVE the new look!

  4. I LOVE paint! We, too, painted our stairs because it was the only solution we could come up with to tie it into our new downstairs flooring that was NOT pine. We had to make some repairs to the previous owners carpentry skills. I painted the risers the same as our wall color and the treads I did in brown then glazed to mimic a dark wood, then poly-ed a couple of coats for wear. Your stairs look fabulous!

  5. Nice job. It’s amazing what a refreshed staircase can do for a space. I don’t have an attice staircase, but this makes me wish I did! :-)

  6. Amazing!! I crave for black and white stairs like this!! What a fabulous makeover! Great work!! I would love to have you come link up to Centerpiece Wednesday and share you creativity with us

  7. Looks great! What kind of paint did you use? Semi-gloss? Satin?

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you, Judy! The risers were an off-the-shelf extra white semigloss (to match the trim), and the trees were a satin porch and floor paint by Sherwin Williams. Hope this helps!

  8. I am currently redoing an attic space including a master bath! It’s been over a year and I still had not decided WHAT to do about the stairs. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your idea of the crisp black and white! We also did wood ceilings but washed them with milk paint. My question, what type of paint did you use for the treads? I was thinking milk paint as well for them with a clear coat sealer because the paint is unmatched in durability and is completely flat. Your opinion?

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thanks, Pam! So glad you like it. I think the milk paint sounds wonderful, but I was wanting something that was one step, so I went with Sherwin Williams porch and floor paint. It was my first time using it, but I was really pleased with the result. If you’re up for a two step process, though, then milk paint and sealer isn’t a bad idea. The only thing to remember is that sealers sometimes are hard to touch up later. If it gets worn out, it may have to be removed before you can touch up (thought that certainly depends on the sealer you use). I liked that the porch and floor paint was latex and could therefore be touched up any time. I hope this helps!

  9. I saw you used SW Porch and Floor paint. How is the paint holding up? I saw online that it didn’t get very good reviews. :) Thanks!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t have much of an answer for you because we moved out of that home last summer. We lived there for a year or so after painting them, and didn’t see any issues. I was very pleased with them actually. :) I should add, though, that those were not our main stairs. That staircase really did not get a lot of use, so we didn’t push the paint very hard.

  10. Nice job! These look exactly like my basement steps currently. What type of paint sprayer did you use?


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