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The Best Staircase Paint To Inject Some Colour Into Your Home, By A Seasoned Expert

I've painted mine three times in the past year. Here's what you need to know.

Confessions of a novice decorator here: I’ve painted my stairs three times in the past 12 months. 

Luckily for you (and in my defence), I’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. 

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When we first bought our attached terraced house back in December 2020, everything was grey. Everything. The walls, the carpets, the atmosphere. 

I felt like I’d moved into a rain cloud so big even Eeyore wouldn’t want to inhabit it.

While we still count ourselves lucky (gosh, we saw some shockers during our house hunt) in terms of the amount of renovating we had to do, I knew as soon as we got the keys and walked through the door, the grey had to go. 

So off I went, naively ripping up the carpet that covered the stairs to expose what was underneath: layers of old paint, rusty nails and cracked wood. 

‘Is this that ‘character’ everyone always goes on about?,’ I thought to myself. 

But hey-ho, off I went, all goggled and masked up, with the sander I’d hired, in an attempt to whip them into shape. 

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How do I paint my stairs? 

I know it’s not what you want to hear but preparation is key. I’m always one for going all in and dealing with it later (hence painting them three times), but if you want to save yourself time and money in the long run then I’d learn from my mistakes. 

Use a paint stripper or a sander to remove all the old paint from the wood; don’t leave any behind. Be careful here though – if your house is old, you may be dealing with some lead-based paint which could require a specialist to remove it. 

To prevent the paint chipping, you’ll need to mend any cracks in the wood first. If you can, reinforce the damaged steps from underneath or just swap out broken treads completely. 

What colour should I paint my stairs? 

Colour is definitely something to have a good ol’ think about. Naturally, you want something that’s going to fit in with the rest of your home, be that something elegant and neutral or something bold that makes a statement (I’m the latter, my whole staircase is currently painted bright green). 

But when picking the right colour, you might have to let your head rule your heart a little with this one. The stairs are such a high traffic area so you’ll want it to be durable as well as look pretty. 

While it might seem like a great idea to paint the risers peach and the treads white (guilty), they’re going to mark eventually, unless you’re a devoted shoes-off-at-the-door kind of person. 

Fine in theory, but running back in for the sunglasses/hat/dog you forgot makes this less and less realistic, right?  

And what about your guests? I’m scarred for life after watching friends and family scuff each peach step as they descended my staircase in their boots – 3 months down the line, I’d seen better looking peaches at the bottom of a school bag. 

Drama Queen? Don’t know her. 

If you don’t fancy getting into a long term relationship with your dustpan and brush then consider painting them a darker colour.

We have a dog, we live near the beach. We have a dog that likes the beach. 

For the short time that my stairs were white, I would spend hours each day sweeping up every speck of sand and whatever else the poochon picked up in her curls that day. 

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How many coats of paint should I use on my stairs? 

Without trying to sound too much like your nan (although I do probably share the same bed time as her; there’s nothing better than an early night in my opinion), it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Try at least three coats of paint, plus a primer like this ‘Leyland Trade Acrylic Primer Undercoat Paint’ and a top coat like this ‘Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish’. 

Ronseal Diamond hard Clear Satin Floor Wood varnish, 5L

Ronseal Diamond hard Clear Satin Floor Wood varnish, 5L, £68, B&Q – buy now

Leyland Trade Acrylic Primer Undercoat Paint, £25.99, ScrewFix – buy now

Okay, so now you’re all prepped and primed, take a look at some of my favourite wooden floor paint below and don’t worry too much about how you’re going to paint them without walking on them. That’s the fun part! 

Best staircase paint for wooden floors

Green 17 Matt Lick

Green 17 Matt, £42, Lick – buy now

Nancy's Blushes Farrow & Bell

Nancy’s Blushes (Pink), from £32, Farrow & Bell – buy now

California Collection: Sand Farrow & Ball

California Collection: Sand, from £32, Farrow & Ball – buy now

Blue 19 Matt Lick

Blue 19 Matt, £42, Lick – buy now

Black 02 Matt Lick

Black 02 Matt, £42, Lick – buy now

Giallo™

Giallo™, from £37.50, Little Greene – buy now

V33 Renovation White Satin Floor & stair paint, 2L

V33 Renovation White Satin Floor & stair paint, 2L, now £27, B&Q – buy now

Hollyhock Paint

Hollyhock (Pink), from £37.50, Little Greene – buy now

Hortense LIttle Greene

Hortense, from £37.50, Little Greene – buy now

Thai Sapphire Little Greene

Thai Sapphire, from £37.50, Little Greene – buy now

Slaked Lime Little Greene

Slaked Lime, from £37.50, Little Greene – buy now

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