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If you're like my sister, you live in a darling but old home. There are many more important things to repair than the finish on the stairs. Whether you have a casual style and children, or a more formal empty nest, painting stairs is one of the best DIY home improvement projects. It's easy, fast and inexpensive. You can create a place to highlight color, text, decoupage drawings, custom designs and more...and you can change the look with more paint and time. Here's a how-to and some cute design ideas:
Supplies: Hand or palm sander, paint, brushes, polyurethane, wood filler, painters tape.
Use porch or floor enamel for the stairs. I use Sherwin Williams no VOC Deckscapes for neutral tones and it's weathered beautifully with lots of use. If it doesn't come in a color that you want, use latex paint and then protect it with non-yellowing water-based polyurethane.
We were removing a drab carpet to get some color into the house. After taking out all of the pad and carpet (recycled both) and getting all of the tack strip, staples and brads out, all of the holes were filled with wood filler. You don't have to be very neat yet, and I used a plastic spatula from Home DEPOT. You can hand sand with a block or use a palm sander. You need to get the surface smooth but some raised grain isn't a negative. The knots will be rougher and take paint differently. If you go lighter in color and coats, you can often see grain. Depends on the look you want.
I love FROG tape - green - since it keeps a clean line against risers, the wall, and balustrades that aren't getting painted. Then it's easy to paint your color - you can also tape off stripes. If you want to add stencils, decoupage on images and text, wait a few days so you don't remove your new color! Enjoy!