Painting them white seemed like a good idea at the time...
May 5, 2015 4:40 PM   Subscribe

I need a classy, fairly easy, and affordable way to make the staircase in my house look great and take the abuse of human and cat traffic.

Remember when I posted about painting the trim and walls of the house we bought in this question? The colour of the trim was the same colour of the staircase so we had it professionally repainted white. It really brightened up the hallway, but as we have had contractors as well as us tromping up and down for the past month, the staircase is a bit dinged and chipped (no surprises but it would have been harder to get it done when there were cats in the house so we opted to get it done well before they moved in).

Well, the end is in the sight for the contractors to finish and leave so now we want to think about how to make that staircase nice again, but with something neat and clever to make it pop. We're obviously keeping it white with touch-ups in the most obvious spots, but what to do about the risers? They're always gonna get a lot of use because we go and up down every day, but we don't want a carpet runner. Maybe a painted runner?

Suggestions? I am on Pinterest like a fiend but am not sure what we can do with cats underfoot and a limited budget.

Hope me?
posted by Kitteh to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A picture of the staircase would be helpful for suggestions.

If you're thinking about recoating the treads again with white, do a couple coats with a high quality paint, then cover it with a good quality water-based clearcoat.
posted by Karaage at 4:43 PM on May 5, 2015

Response by poster: This is the best I can do.
posted by Kitteh at 4:50 PM on May 5, 2015

Best answer: Paint a faux runner down the middle that uses a strong color like red to highlight the front edge of each tread (and possibly both edges of the faux runner) and do whatever decorative stuff you feel like in the middle of the faux runner. You could do this with two or three paint colors and some stencils and some painter's tape.

It's great that painting them white brightened up the area, but you don't need all of it to remain white to keep the benefits of that. Bonus: A stenciled pattern would help hide dings for the future. Part of why they are so visible is because it is all one solid color, not just because it is white.

I hate carpet on stairs. I lived in a two story house at one time and going down stairs in socks was risking life and limb. I think I stopped wearing socks in the house after one too many falls. So either faux paint it or look for grip-improving solutions.
posted by Michele in California at 4:58 PM on May 5, 2015

I can't tell in the new picture whether your floors have been refinished and stained. If you had stained the floors a darker color, for example, I'd be inclined to stain the treads the same color (after stripping) but keep the risers white (with a clearcoat).

I am also firmly in the no carpet on stairs camp. There's still an ugly line on our stairs even after sanding and refinishing and clearcoating on our floors where the old stair carpet used to live many moons ago.
posted by Karaage at 4:58 PM on May 5, 2015

Response by poster: No, the floors haven't been refinished; we were going to do that but the timing didn't work out. Next year we're getting them resanded, but they are still that lovely golden colour. If it helps, we repainted the rooms and hallway in this colour by Valspar with strong bluish-green for an accent wall in each the living room and dining room. And yeah, carpet is a definite no-go.
posted by Kitteh at 5:04 PM on May 5, 2015

I would just repaint them white again (good quality floor paint) then when you get the floors redone next year have the treads sanded and stained to match the rest of the floors.
posted by saradarlin at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Our hundred year-old house had white risers and dark stained treads when we bought it. It was fairly low-maintenance, with the occasional scrubbing off scuff marks on the risers. Since then, we've stripped the stairs and refinished them. We lived with that setup for about 10 years and finally had a carpet runner installed. I have to say, the runner is easier (and quieter) for everyone (dogs & humans) to traverse.
posted by sarajane at 6:07 PM on May 5, 2015

I put "painted stairs" in Pinterest and got lots of nice options.
posted by ReluctantViking at 6:14 PM on May 5, 2015

Response by poster: Last comment: the stairs have had many many layers of paint applied to them in their 100+ year lifetime. Sanding and stripping them to match the floors is not an option given that there is likely lead paint under there (the same reason why we did not do the same for all the trim in the house).
posted by Kitteh at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2015

Best answer: One of my neighbors used stencils to paint a geometric pattern on her risers, it looked wonderful and scuffs and dirt showed less. She used two or three colors, very simple design. Unfortunately they moved away so I can't just go over to take a picture for you, but here are some other people have done.
posted by mareli at 6:18 PM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Painting just the treads black would get you the stained tread look... and still keep the hallway pretty bright.
posted by raspberrE at 6:32 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We painted our stairs white with a red faux runner, five years ago, with good quality floor gloss, and they have barely need touching up during that time.

I recommend it. Mostly because our cat was terrified of the shiny upside down red cat who lived in the stairs, and would creep up and down on the white bits at the side, including a full trip around the perimeter of the landing. It kept us entertained for months.
posted by emilyw at 8:20 AM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Something like this? Still light, but with enough texture to handle dings.
posted by idest at 6:52 AM on May 8, 2015

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