How to Renovate Your Wooden Staircase: A DIY Guide

Jun 11, 2024

Renovating your wooden staircase can dramatically enhance the aesthetic and functionality of your home. Whether you’re aiming to revive a tired old staircase or simply change its style, painting is an excellent way to achieve stunning results without breaking the bank. As experienced stair builders, we’ve compiled the best techniques to help you achieve a professional finish. Follow our step-by-step guide to ensure your wooden staircase remodeling project is a success.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Your Wooden Staircase

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Sandpaper (120 and 220 grit)
  • Wood filler
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • High-quality paint (choose a durable, slip-resistant paint for treads)
  • Paintbrushes and rollers
  • Drop cloths or protective coverings
  • Vacuum or damp cloth

Step 1: Preparation

  1. Clear the Area: Start by removing any rugs, furniture, or items around the wooden staircase. Cover nearby floors and furniture with drop cloths to protect from dust and paint splatters.
  2. Clean the Stairs: Thoroughly clean the wooden staircase to remove dirt, dust, and grease. A simple mixture of warm water and mild detergent should suffice. Ensure the stairs are completely dry before proceeding.
  3. Sand the Surface: Use 120-grit sandpaper to sand down the wooden surfaces. This helps to remove the old finish and roughens the surface for better paint adhesion. Follow up with 220-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. Vacuum or wipe away all the dust – this is really important!
  4. Fill Any Gaps or Cracks: Inspect the stairs for any cracks or holes. Use a wood filler to repair these imperfections, allowing it to dry completely before lightly sanding the filled areas to smooth them out.
  5. Tape Off Areas: Use painter’s tape to mask off areas you don’t want to paint, such as the walls, risers, or trim. This will ensure clean, sharp lines.

Step 2: Priming

  1. Apply Primer: Priming is crucial for a long-lasting paint job. Use a high-quality primer suitable for wood and apply it evenly across all surfaces. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Sand Again: After the primer has dried, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out any brush strokes or imperfections. Clean off the dust.

Step 3: Painting

  1. First Coat: Start with the risers and any vertical surfaces, followed by the treads. Use a high-quality brush or roller for even coverage. For a professional finish, consider using a smaller brush for edges and corners.
  2. Dry and Sand: Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly, then lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This step ensures a smooth finish and helps the next coat adhere better.
  3. Second Coat: Apply a second coat of paint, following the same process. This will provide a more durable and vibrant finish. Additional coats may be necessary depending on the color and type of paint used.
  4. Final Touches: Once the final coat is dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape. Touch up any areas where paint may have seeped under the tape.

Tips for a Professional Finish

When it comes to wooden staircase renovations, our expert remodelers have mastered the perfect paint job. We caught up with some of our expert craftsmen to get their three most essential tips for a professional finish:

Choose the Right Paint

“Definitely go for high-quality, durable paint. And when it comes to the treads, I’d recommend choosing a slip-resistant finish to make things safer.”

Take Your Time

“Make sure you let each coat of primer and paint dry completely before moving on to the next step.”


“Don’t forget to keep the area well-ventilated to help the paint dry faster and cut down on those strong fumes.”

Summing Up

By following these steps, you can achieve a professional-looking painted staircase that breathes new life into your home. However, if you find the process daunting or time-consuming, remember that professional help is just a call away.

At Beach City Stairs, we are expert wooden staircase remodelers serving Southern California and Northeast Florida. Our team of skilled stair builders can handle any stair remodeling project with precision and care. Contact us today to see how we can help turn your staircase renovation dreams into reality!