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How to Transform Your Stairs with Paint

Posted in DIY
on June 16, 2017

Can you paint your stairs? The short answer: Yes! If you’re looking for a budget way to replace the nasty carpet on your staircase, consider painting a faux stair runner! Read on for the tutorial. 

How to Paint your stairs image including an after and before

We were in desperate need of a staircase makeover. The staircase is the first thing you see when you enter our house. A depressing sight for sure, carpeted in what at one time had been beige builder-grade carpet.  I hated it. It might have helped if I’d cleaned it once in a while.. but I digress.


Before picture of the carpet before paint

Having our five kids tramp up and down the stairs, five hundred times a day had the area looking as though an army had been going up and down instead. The added feeling of ascending to a spooky, creepy cave, made a change inevitable and mandatory, what with the lack of light and tobacco-colored walls – in a flat finish no less – Can you imagine an unwashable flat paint finish with a bazillion kids?

Before picture of the staircase before painting

If you’re here, I’d guess you can relate.

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s work to paint your stairs. It’s time-consuming. And can be painstaking. But, it costs almost nothing, and when you’re done, you’ll be SO thrilled with the results. Trust me when I say you’ll be looking for excuses to go up and down your stairs, gazing all the while in admiration and awe.

Shall we start?

I say yes. Let’s go. You’ve got this. *This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement here. 




  1. Remove the nasty carpet. Look for a loose corner on the side of your carpet – you’ll likely find this on the side where the riser meets the wall. Grab it, and pull. Your carpet will come up fairly quickly. Underneath, you’ll find carpet padding and tacking strips. And a few staples.. like, a few thousand. No sweat.. you can do this!
  2. Remove the tack strips. Wear gloves. I used a pry bar – one of my absolute favorite tools,  pliers, and a hammer to pry up the tack strips and staples. The pry bar helps you get right under the staples. A small investment makes this job so much easier.
  3. Clean the stairs. They will be disgusting. Hair. Dust. Dirt. Sand. Take a deep breath.. under everyone’s carpet you’ll find a whole range of grossness. Press on, my friend!


Your stair treads will likely be in decent enough shape to paint, though you will need to fill all of the holes and gaps in before doing so.

STairs without carpet during the hole filling process

  1. Replace any necessary treads or risers. You can find a great tutorial on how to do that here.
  2. Use 3M Wood Filler to fill all of the minor imperfections in using either a putty knife or your fingers to smooth the filler into the holes.  I used my fingers to work the putty into the grooves and gaps.
  3. Fill any seams or gaps larger than a 1/8″ with silicone caulking.  I prefer to use the caulk in a tube. I’m uncoordinated with a caulking gun, and I find I have more control squeezing the caulk out by hand – If you’re more coordinated than I either tube or gun will work.
  4. Attach a piece of cove trim under each tread using a Brad Nail Gun and wood glue. We used a compressor version, but an Brad Nail Gun will work just as well and will save both your hands and time.
  5. Let it dry.



Congratulations, you’re about half way through! For the final step before painting, you’ll need to sand all those treads smooth. Friends, this will be beyond a messy job. You’ll find sawdust places you didn’t even know you had in your home. Plastic off the area as much as possible, you can reduce the dust travel.

  1. Use painters tape and plastic sheeting to section off your sanding area. I applied plastic to the doorways to keep the sand in the foyer and out of the rest of the house.
  2. Sand each tread and riser with a minimum of 100 grit sandpaper and follow up with 220 grit. If your treads are extremely rough, start with 80 grit and work your way up. I used an electric orbital sander like this for the majority and a Dremel for the corners and details.
  3. Clean the stairs – Again. I recommend a tack rag to get up every bit of dust possible.


Okay, here’s my little secret: Use a good quality paint – it’ll cost more, but you don’t need much, and it will save you SO much time. I use Behr Marquee for almost everything. And so you know, Behr has not sponsored this post; I simply love their paint. The below image was the first coat without primer, on bare wood.

White painted stairs

I used almost an entire gallon of pure white paint, straight out of the can, but I also painted my railing, the stairs AND the board and batten we installed. If you’re doing your stairs and even your railing, you’ll need closer to a quart – maybe even a sample size.

  1. Grab a brush and a mini-roller and go to town! I found it easiest to paint every other stair from the top down, then to go back and paint the remaining treads once the initial set dry.
  2. Let it dry for a few hours, then go back and touch up any smudged or missed spots in your stencil.
  3. Let dry for 24-hours.


Still with me? You’re SO close to finished, and I bet you’re already amazed at the difference. Next, let’s take your stairs from Wow to Holy Cow! First, you need to determine how wide you’d like your runner to be. Then, as before, work on every second stair, from the top down. Let’s go.

Stairs with painted runner base color being applied

  1. Measure an equal distance from the wall on each side towards the center of the treads. Mark this line with a pencil.
  2. Run a strip of painters tape down the length of your pencil line. I use Frog Delicate Painters tape – yellow – anytime I’m painting lines – it’s easy to remove and stays put.
  3. IMPORTANT: Apply a thin coat of your base color along the inside edges of the tape line – THIS WILL ALL BUT ELIMINATE THE PAINT SEEPING THROUGH AND GIVE YOU A CRIPS LINE. Let dry until dry to the touch (about 20-60 minutes, depending on your paint).
  4. Apply your contrast color between the tape lines, including over the thin coat of your base color.


Stencil being applied to stair tread

  1. When dry, place your stencil on top of the contrast area and use painters tape to hold in place. I found it easiest to use a stencil the exact width of what would be the runner.
  2. Use a stencil brush or foam pouncer to apply your base coat or desired paint color.
  3. When the paint is dry to the touch, remove the stencil, use a small paint brush to touch up any needed areas.
  4. Repeat for each stair tread, from top to bottom.


If you’ve used something other than floor paint, when the paint dries, you’ll need to brush on 2-3 coats of Polycrylic to protect all of your hard work. I’ve been pretty happy with General Finishes Water Based Topcoat and applied two coats to the railings, stairs and the board and batten to ensure it remains protected and easy to clean. I used a satin finish to give the stairs a bit more grip.

And that’s how to paint a runner on stairs! I tackled this project a few months ago and the stairs held up so well. Clean-up is a snap – I can sweep away the grime and dust and a quick wipe down hides the evidence of the army using this staircase. Worth every moment of effort,  our stair makeover completely transformed our front entrance! And, all for less than $50!

Stairs with painted runner, board and batten, and white railing

Stairs from top down with painted runner

Although I still have an army climbing the stairs 500 times a day, at least we’re all doing it in style!

Now.. about the landing at the top of the stairs.. #sigh.

What do you think? Ready to take on your stairs now? Let me know if I can help in any way!

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One Room Challenge {Inexpensive Foyer Make-over} The Reveal

on May 11, 2017

I’m so excited to share the results of my inexpensive foyer makeover for the One Room Challenge, completed just six (actually five) short weeks (gasp)! 

YAY! A few weeks back – six to be exact – I shared my plans to make-over my foyer for my third One Room ChallengeAlthough I get a big fat fail on updating you on the progress of said make-over, I hope you’ll forgive me when you’ve seen what I’ve accomplished. For all the pretty pictures, keep scrolling for major Before & After action!


Let’s start at the beginning. My foyer, while not horrendous, felt incomplete and didn’t compliment and flow into the adjoining rooms. The area didn’t reflect our style. More than anything it had carpeted stairs – I hate carpet on the stairs!


As you can tell, we’ve made a few changes. 🙂

MUCH NEEDED STAIRCASE MAKE-OVER// We removed the carpet from the stairs, during which I spent a lot of time wishing I’d vacuumed more often #gross. After a whole lot of filling and sanding on the stair treads, we painted and stenciled the entire area. During that process, it seemed like a good idea to continue the board and batten already in the foyer up to the wall of the staircase as well. That had not been in the initial plan, but it made sense.

LIGHT FIXTURE// The light fixture WAS terrible. I found a way-out-of-my-budget gorgeous light fixture at Anthropologie but then found a fabulous tutorial on making my own version. I’ll be sharing how I made the light in the next few weeks.

DIY FLOATING CONSOLE TABLE AND OTTOMANS // With only enough space for a console table in the front entrance, there wasn’t any for seating. To get around this, we decided on a DIY floating console table that would allow for ottomans underneath. Look for an upcoming tutorial on how I made the console table out of an inexpensive chest of drawers!

PET STATION// We needed a pet station to store leashes and business-bags. Luckily, the new and larger floating table allowed for both storing our pet leashes and business-bags, as well as the necessary hat and glove storage.

MODERN ECLECTIC ACCENTS // I found a few accents at Target, with the once-black mirror getting a quick paint job.

RUG // I went through more than one rug during this project. An awkward space, the entry way in my home, requires a 4’x6′ rug that I found hard to find. I settled on this wide-striped rug, also found at Target, in a 5’x8′ and customized it to my space. I’ll be sharing a tutorial on how to customize a rug in another post. The indoor/outdoor carpet ensures it will hold up to the steady traffic and will be easy to keep clean.

PAINTED DOOR // The added bold blue to the door completed the project!

THE DESIGN INFLUENCE // The foyer is flanked by four – yes, four – other rooms,  all that have received more of our love and attention.

The office and living room are both ongoing projects that are slowly evolving to the look and feel we strive for. We recently updated the powder room, and of course, made-over the Dining room/playroom during my first One Room Challenge. Every room has elements of my favorite style – a mostly neutral palette with a mostly traditional vibe, but with a side of the eclectic and whimsy. Don’t forget the mandatory splashes of bold color and pattern!

And now.. the foyer is in perfect balance with them all!

One more time!



I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results! a HUGE Thank you to Linda for organizing the One Room Challenge. The One Room Challenge is a LOT of hard work, but it’s also ridiculously fun for me.  I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love and to be able to share it all with you.  It’s pretty much my favorite.


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How to make this vibrant unique Spring Wreath (from book pages!)

on March 7, 2017

Are you, like me, starting to think about Spring decor? For me,  spring decor always starts with inexpensively updating the front door with a shot of color in the form of something floral.

I have a wreath for nearly every season and emotion – I have a very cute Spring Wreath that I’ve put out for the past few years. However, I get bored so easily that I need to change things up every few years and I was ready for something different. I’ve been eyeing up the gorgeous spring wreaths that seem to be everywhere these days, although I can never bring myself to buy one. I always seem to have that internal conversation going on that says, “I could make that.” because in my head I can make anything. #IthinkImMcGyverbutneverMartha

So, for the March Create with Me DIY Challenge I decided to prove that fact – that I could make oneThis fun challenge is where you, our readers, vote on the materials we’ll use for next month’s projects, so be sure to scroll to the very last bit of this post to vote for your favorite and get a peek at what my friends came up with before you go. For past challenges, check out the Create with Me menu. This month’s challenge was to create something using book pages. How can wreaths and book pages coincide, you ask? Let me show you!

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Book pages of your choice – I used the preview pages at the back of a few books so I wasn’t destroying anything good – but make sure your pages are no heavier than newspaper weight so they’ll bend easily
  • Flower pattern  – I used this one from
  • Watercolors or watered down acrylics
  • Aluminum foil
  • Florists wires
  • Green Twine or Florists tape
  • Twig Wreath form
  • Hot Glue and Glue gun
  • Clear spray paint

Print out and cut your flower pattern, then trace your pattern onto the book pages. I used my Cricut for this but it’s really and truly not necessary.. I’m just lazy. The pages are so thin you could easily cut multiple pages at one time. You’ll need two flowers and two leaves per flower.

Paint the leaf cut-outs – you’ll paint the flowers shortly. I used watercolors because I wanted the colors to be vibrant but still sheer enough that the text would be visible.

While the leaves dry, begin assembling your flowers following these instructions:

Step 1: Create the stem

Bend a hook in a 9″ piece of floral wire and cut a 2″x2″ square from the foil. Place a hot glue dot into the center of the foil and wrap the foil around the hook in the wire, creating a bulb on the end.

Step 2: Add petals

Gently curl the edges of two flower petals up, then putting a dab of glue along the bottom edge of the foil bulb, press the stem through the center of the smaller of the two flower petals, pushing up to adhere the petal to the bottom of the flower bulb.

Step 3: Shape flower

Attach the petals up and around the bulb, alternating petals as you go around, securing underneath with glue. Add larger petal in the same fashion, pressing the stem through the center and repeat attaching the petals.

Your flowers are now ready for painting. I painted my flowers with watercolor shades of orange, reds, pinks and yellows and stood them to dry in a cup before winding and gluing twine to cover the metal stem and attaching the leaves.

Lay your flowers out on your wreath form, bending to follow the curve of the twig branches and secure with glue. The flowers are so light that I did not wire them to the wreath, but you may wish to do this.

Give the entire wreath and flowers a light coat of clear to protect everything from the elements.

Hang and enjoy!

I love how vibrant the colors of the flowers are. The print showing through gives what could be an ordinary wreath so much uniqueness – I’m so excited by how it turned out and can’t wait to hang it on the door. It’s the perfect start to my spring decor!

Now, we need YOUR help! Take the survey below and tell me what you want to Create with Me for March!

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DIY Planter from Book pages via Making Joy and Pretty Things

Book Page Flowers via Two Purple Couches

Easy Book Page Art via Little Bits of Home

Paper Tulip Wreath via Knock it Off Kim

Easter Book Page Banner via My Life from Home

Book Page Easter Egg Wreath via Our Crafty Mom

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