the painted surface
How To Paint a Stairway
Painting a stairway is somewhat different than painting the average room that is of one level. With stairway painting the risers, height and hard to reach areas must be considered. Safety cannot be stressed too much. Never attempt to paint an area that cannot be reached safely. Never use a ladder that is damaged or not appropriate for the job. Never place a ladder on unsure footing or in awkward positions that are not stable. The general tips for painting a room apply. See “How To Paint a Room”. In this article tips and techniques specific to painting a stairway are discussed.
During the prep work, try these tips.
- Tape down the drop cloth covering the steps. Lay the drop cloth to conform to the stairs and use short pieces of tape to tape down the drop cloth to each step. This will help keep the drop cloth in the right place as well as help prevent tripping.
- Use a bright light to look for cracks and places that may need patching.
- Check for cobwebs and dust in the high spots and vacum if needed. Dust will mar the painted surface if painted over.
- Do not neglect the ceiling or crown moulding. Freshly painted walls can make the ceiling and mouldings look bad if they are not painted also.
- Have some low tack tape on hand to cover lower trim and skirt boards. If possible remove the handrail. It is usually easier to remove the rail than to paint around it. Make sure of safety concerns if the handrail is removed.
These tools can help depending on the type of stairway.
- A pot hook used to hang the work pot from an extension ladder.
- A 2 to 4 and 6 to 12 foot or longer adjustable roller handle extension.
- An extension ladder, usually an 8 to 16 foot size is adequate. The photo shows a 16 foot extension ladder being used in a typical stairway. It is hard to see in the photo but pads were placed on the ends of the ladder to protect the wall. If pads are not available a folded bed sheet or dropcloth can be taped to the top of the ladder.
- A portable fan can help speed the drying time where air circulation is inadequate.
- Some type of ladder leveler might be required. Some levelers attach to the legs of the ladder, others are placed on the steps and the ladder is placed on top of the leveler. Safety first, do not use a ladder on unsure footing.
- For smooth walls a half inch nap roller cover will help.
- An assistant to help move, adjust and secure ladders is very helpful.
Try these painting tips.
- Whenever possible roll the walls from top to bottom to apply an even coat. A half inch lambswool roller cover holds enough paint to cover a large area. See “How to Roll a Wall or Ceiling”.
- If the walls need multiple coats, cut-in the high spots the required number of times before rolling. Use a fan to speed up the drying time. This way the ladders will not be leaned on a freshly painted surface. Also the big ladders can be taken out of the way once they are no longer needed.
- Always use an extension handle on the roller frame, but use the shortest one capable of reaching the area to be painted.
- Start at the top of the stairway and roll the highest areas first. When possible switch to a shorter extension to roll the lower areas.
- Use good quality paint. Stairway walls are easy to scuff or soil. An eggshell or satin finish paint may stay cleaner and be more washable.
- Where walls and trim meet at sharp angles tape off the trim. Use a low tack tape and lightly burnish down the edge to prevent paint from seeping under the tape onto the moulding. Multiple light coats will help prevent seepage also.
- Every stairway is slightly different but logical, safe steps will lead to a successful result.
More helpful painting tips, techniques and painting how-to articles can be found by following these links.
How To Paint a Room ◊ How To Paint a Stairway ◊ How To Paint a Two-Story Room ◊ How To Choose Colors ◊ Six Step Color Choice ◊ Popular Color Ideas ◊ How To Choose Paint ◊ Tools ◊ How To Caulk ◊ How To Patch a Hole ◊ How To Patch a Crack ◊ How To Cut In a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Roll a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Paint Woodwork ◊ How To Paint a Window ◊ How To Paint Baseboard ◊ How To Paint a Door ◊ How To Paint Crown Moulding ◊ How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets ◊ How To Choose a Premium Paintbrush ◊ How To Paint a MDF Bookcase ◊ How To Paint Aluminum or Vinyl Siding ◊ How To Paint Over Faux Finishes ◊ How To Use Magnetic Paint ◊ How To Use FrogTape ◊ How To Paint Repair Water Damaged Drywall ◊ Hiring a Contractor ◊ Paint Stripper Safety ◊ Painting Louvered Shutters ◊ 2013 Color Trends ◊ Choosing Front Door Colors