How To Update Carpeted Stairs With Paint

I have always loved the look of classic painted stairs. I just feel like they have such a clean, crisp look and add so much character to the home. The first thing you see when you walk in a home is usually the stairs on a two story house. I wanted our open concept home to have a custom clean lined look so removing the stair carpet and painting them has been on my list since we moved in. For the most part it was a pretty simple project, just time consuming. Here’s how our project went.


Here is the before shot of our stairs. The carpet was in good condition, I just didn’t care for the color or how it looked in our home with all the updates.





So the first thing we did is tear up the carpet. I really thought the demo would be the worst part, and it was fairly easy. First, we cut into the carpet in the corner of the stair, then peeled away . Once you get a hold of the carpet, it pulls out pretty easily.






Be careful of the tacking strips underneath, they are really sharp. The next thing we did was remove the strips. We kept an old bucket nearby to drop the torn up scraps into and then a big garbage bag for the padding. It makes clean up so much easier as you go along. My husband just used a crowbar between the stair and tacking strip and lifted it with a hammer.




Once the tacking strips were off, we pulled off all the padding. It was glued down so there were a lot of left over pieces still attached. I used a scrapper to get the rest of the padding off. That was probably the worst part of the demo.



After the stairs were cleaned up and debris swept off, we started adding the treads. For the top section of the stairs we had to get 42″ treads because they were wider, but our stair width was 40″ so they had to be cut to fit. We purchased the treads at Home Depot. The stairs on the lower section were 36″ and they had treads in that size so no cutting was required, yay!






Next we added the risers using MDF board that we had to cut to fit. Each riser had a slightly different measurement so each stair riser had to be cut individually to fit properly. Then we used a nail gun to attach them.




Once the risers and treads were on it was time to caulk all the gaps and prep for paint. I used painters tape for the posts and then went through and sanded all the stairs, filled in gaps with caulk and then wiped down thoroughly. 




After the steps were cleaned and prepped, I started with the risers and painted them with 3 coats drying in between each coat. I used Simply White by Benjamin Moore in a satin finish.



To paint the treads I used a Behr brand concrete/garage paint with epoxy in the color Blackout. I painted every other stair and waited for each coat to dry (that way you can walk up your stairs every other step) The paint has a heavy duty rougher finish so the stairs aren’t slippery to walk on. I didn’t put a finish on them because this type of paint doesn’t require it. However, if I see issues with it, I may research a protective covering but so far so good.






I could not be more thrilled with how these turned out and the dramatic difference it makes to the whole room. I’m just wondering what took us so long? Sometimes I stall on a project because it feels a bit intimidating, but with enough research ( and a little confidence) it really isn’t as scary as it seems. Things are always fixable and you can learn a lot from others, thank you Pinterest! 

So, let me know what you think and if you have any questions, please ask. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts delivered to our email so you wont miss anything.


Happy Decorating!


September 24, 2019

  1. Shawn Suarez says:

    Thanks so much for this post– I have been contemplating doing the same thing on our staircase! It looks fantastic!

    • says:

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks I’m glad you liked the post. I’m so happy with the project and wondering why we waited so long .

      Happy Fall!

  2. Laura Kellogg says:

    I absolutely love the new stairs! So classic and beautiful. Well done, Deb and Spencer!

  3. Lauren says:

    The stairway looks very nice. One question, though. Why did you leave the bottom riser brown?

    • says:

      Hi Lauren,

      Actually we weren’t sure if we wanted to cover the wood piece but we added the additional riser and painted it white just recently and it looks much better. I need to add the photo to this post.
      Thanks for commenting

  4. They look fantastic and will be perfect for decades. I’ve been wanting to do this to our stairs for years but I’m soooo intimidated because ours our curved. You make it look easy. Want to come do ours?! LOL.

    • says:

      Thanks Cindy. We are so glad we decided to do it. Our staircase is pretty straightforward so that helped a lot.

  5. Charis says:

    What color is your railing painted ? And what did you do to your landing ? It all looks amazing ?

    • says:

      Hi Charis,

      I painted the railings with Waverly chalk paint from Walmart in the color INk, then finished off with a clear wax. The landing had a fun shiplap base floor so we just patched a few areas and sanded. I loved the look so just kept it like that.

      Thanks so much for folowing,


      • Char says:

        Thank you for the post. Your stairs are beautiful. What wax product did you use over the top railing?

  6. Ann says:

    Hi Dud you paint or stain the railings. And if so did you do them black thank you. Beautiful look

    • says:

      Hi Ann,
      Thank you. I painted the railings with the Waverly Chalk Paint from Walmart in the color INK. First I cleaned well and lightly sanded them then finished off with a clear wax. They are holding up great.

      Here’s a link to the paint
      [show_shopthepost_widget id="3886977"]

      Thanks for following,

  7. Cindi says:

    Did you have to add anything to the landing or was it simply a matter of painting?

    • says:

      Hi Cindi,

      Actually we weren’t sure what we were going to do with it until we saw what was underneath. I was excited to see it was a shiplap look and I loved the character of it. So we just patched up some dings and sanded and painted it.

      Thanks for following~

  8. Kelsey says:

    Did you use pine or oak for the stairs?

  9. Jami says:

    How did you tie in the top tread with the floor in the 2nd floor?

    • says:

      Hi Jami,

      We didn’t do the last riser at the top becuase we are planning to remove the carpet and add wood. So for now we left it to keep the carpet in tack.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Jann Krone says:

    Do you think the behr concrete/garage would work on metal stairs. We have a indoor spiral staircase and have removed the carpet but having trouble finding something that will stick and be durable for everyday use. Thank you.

    • says:

      Hi Jann,

      I would say to ask the experts at the paint department because I’m not sure on that particular question.
      Happy New Year!!

  11. Suzanne says:

    Your stairs look sooo much better than they did with the carpet, and soooo much better than mine! An absolutely professional appearing job! Love it!

  12. Connie says:

    Are the steps slippery at all. I realize you used epoxy paint ..,, I fear slipping and falling.

    • says:

      Hi Connie,

      The paint has a rougher texture to it, kind of a light sandpaper texture, so they aren’t slippery.


  13. Rebecca says:

    Hi there,

    How is the sound/noise level?

  14. Pam says:

    How is the paint holding up on your stairs? We are getting ready to start renovating our stairs going down to the basement. Would love to use paint instead of stain.

    • says:

      Hi Pam,

      It’s doing great so far. Very happy with them.

      Thanks and best of luck on your projects.


  15. Moni C. says:

    Loved your blog!! I’ve been contemplating redoing my stairs for over 2 years and after finding & reading your story, I feel more confident about doing! Your stairs look BEAUTIFUL AND PROFESSIONALLY DONE. 😍

    • says:

      Oh yay I’m so glad it was inspiring and helpful.
      best of luck with your project…You’ll be so happy you did it.

      xoxo Deborah

  16. Wonderful suggestion. Keep up the good work. I really like it.

  17. Tasha says:

    Your stairs look great. What do you use to clean them? Is the epoxy easy to clean? Does dirt/hair stick to it? Thanks!

    • says:

      Hi Tasha,

      Thank you! The paint has an epoxy in it already. I just sweep them then use a wet mop to clean. Super easy to care for.

      xoxo Deborah

  18. Thanks for sharing the post. Keep up the good work. I really like the post.

  19. Anne says:

    Nice job on the stairs. I do have a couple of questions:

    Did you fill in all the seams between the treads in the wall?

    Did you have any squeaks in the stairs before he started the project?

    Did you put the new treads right over the old treads are pull the old ones out?

    • says:

      Hi and thanks

      Yes we filled in the seams
      No we did not have any squeaks
      we didn’t really have treads once the carpet was up it was just plywood base then we added the treads(if that makes sense?)

  20. Heidi Stadelmaier says:

    Wouldn’t be easier to paint the risers and the trends prior to placing the on the stairs?
    Any suggestions on what to fill in the cracks on the trends prior to painting? Replacing them would be expensive and im thinking there must be something that could just fill in the nail holes and cracks from wear.

    • says:


      It wasn’t any problem to paint them when they were installed. I’m not sure what the difference would be but we wanted the project complete before we painted them. Since we decided to fully replace the particle board underneath I’m not sure whatother option you could do since we didn’t take that route, sorry. It wsn’t really that expensive for us to replace them.


  21. Alicia says:

    Do you have a update on the top step? I was wondering how to proceed since our top floor is carpet.

    • says:

      Hi Alicia,

      I haven’t finished it yet. We are hoping to replace our carpet this year and I’ll addd that update once we do.


  22. Soraya Damiani says:

    Love how it looks. Thank you for the tutorial. So far one of the best I had read. I feel more confident on taking the risk and update our stairs myself. Thank you👍❤️

  23. Jillian says:

    How many coats of epoxy for the treads and did you prime before epoxy? Also, did you strictly use a table saw or another tool for the cuts on your treads? I’m currently redoing my stairs. The first cross cut on the tread looks to have some splintering (using read oak boards by Stairtek with a circular saw).

    • says:

      We just used 2 coats of the paint with epoxy and one coat of primer. We used a table saw for the treads and didn’t have any issues with the cuts. I bought the treads from Home Depot.
      Hope that helps and best of luck

  24. Terri says:

    This is great and exactly what I am trying to achieve with my stairs.
    The Behr paint now has a primer in it, do you think it needs an additional primer or additional grit so it isn’t slippery?
    Also wondering if you repainted your banisters and spindles. I need to do this but am not sure what paint to use.

    • says:

      If it has a primer in it I don’t think you’d need the additional step unless its recommended. I painted the railings with a cahlk paint and used my regular trim paint for the spindles. I like the Waverly chalk paint from Walmart. then I finished with a clear wax.
      Hope that helps.

  25. tia says:

    i have been searching the internet and i’ve finally found someone who has/had the same type of stairs as me……originally carpeted stairs with false stair treads under the spindles. i’ve been wanting to change my stairs from carpet to wood, but my dilemma has been “how do i line up the new wood treads/nose with the false stair treads/nose”?? (I do not want to have to remove the false stair treads or the spindles). i notice in your final pics, some of your stair treads and nose do not perfectly line up with your false treads/nose. has this caused any problems with kids, adults, or pets bumping into the protruding nose with their legs/feet? thank you for your insight!! you have given me hope that i can do this!

  26. Thanks for sharing this amazing article.

  27. Kelly Williams says:

    Love the stairs!! My husband and I are debating stain vs painting the treads… I’m #teampaint. Question… how long before you could use the painted tread? I see you did every other one. But how long did it take to dry enough to use the stairs?

    Looks fabulous!!!!!

    • says:

      Hi. We waited a full 24 hours before walking on them. But check the instructions on the can of the product you decide to use. ALso will depend on the humidity in your home.

      Thanks xoxo

  28. Alexis says:

    What did you use to fill in the gaps between the new treads and the existing side treads?

  29. Amy says:

    This looks great. Did you pull up the wood “treads”
    that were there and then attach the new pine treads to the risers or did you lay the new pine treads directly over the wood that was already there?

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