DIY Stair Makeover: REVEAL

The day has finally arrived for me to share the final reveal of my staircase makeover.

Alot of progress has been made since I announced and started this latest DIY endeavour only 3 weeks ago.  It’s amazing how one change can totally impact the aesthetic of a space.  As you know, my home is my experimental playground which is constantly work in progress, and this stair makeover has been an incredible update.

Take a look at the result…

And here is the progress that I’ve made from start to finish…

Amazing change, right?!

Since my last post where I left you off at the staining of the stair treads, I’ve been a non-stop painting machine! And actually, I’m still painting (which I’ll get to more in a bit).  After the filling of the holes, the sanding of the wood, and the staining of the treads, it was time to paint the stair risers, the balusters, and the banister – and that’s what I’ll be sharing details about in this post.

In my last post, I left you off here…

So after that, it was time to prime!

Whenever I have a big painting job (like my kitchen makeover last summer), I always turn to Benjamin Moore as my go-to paint line.  Their paints are of really high quality and it applies with an effortless manor.  Since this project was pretty big, I immediately turned to them for assistance and they kindly donated the product for this project (Thanks BM – I love you)!  Their Aura paint line is like no other and actually has a primer built-in (which is why my kitchen cabinets came out so great and still look as fabulous today).  BUT, since I was working with a white hue, I thought it would be best to use an actual primer FIRST, then the Aura paint on top.

To start off, I first taped off all the areas that weren’t to be covered with the primer and that was basically just the newly stained treads and the surrounding walls.

Once everything was properly taped, it was time to apply one coat of Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Primer.  I learned recently that the primer coat does not need to be a thick coat  – a thin coat just to cover the wood surface is perfect.  As long as your coating the wood, it’s blocking the stain from coming through and preparing the surface for the paint color.

All primed and ready for paint!

Once the primer was dry, which didn’t take long (the stairs were thirsty!), it was time for the 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Aura paint.  For this project, I chose the color Snowfall White, which is essentially white, but has a slightly warmer hue (no blue undertones).

And of course I’m using my favorite Purdy Brushes ;) (I wasn’t paid to say that – just sharin’ the love).

I mentioned that I applied 2 coats of paint, but in some areas a 3rd coat was needed.  Thin layers of paint are better than thick, so 3-4 coats isn’t unlikely.  It’s best to apply thinner coats than to end up with drips!  If you do though (like me), continue to go over the drips with your brush.  To avoid fast drying paint so you can fix those drips, it’s important to use a paint additive like Floetrol.  Learn more about that from my post on Tips for Painting Furniture.

The painting around the balusters took a long time and it was the most grueling part, but honestly looking back, it wasn’t that bad and it’s done – YAY!  Once I was finished with the white areas (the risers and the balusters), it was time to paint the newel post and banister.  A few people thought I was crazy when I said I was going to paint the post and banister instead of staining it to match the treads, but I’m glad I stuck with the idea, because I love it!

I decided to use the same color as my kitchen cabinets which is Benjamin Moore Texas Leather. It was one of my all-time favorite colors and can be seen here and there throughout my home.  Painting the post and railing gave the stairs a unique touch rather than a typical stained railing.

One itty bitty part that I didn’t mention above when painting the risers white was that there was a large gap at the edge where the treads and risers meet.  When painting, I didn’t have to be perfect with the white paint because I knew I would be adding a small piece of cove moulding afterwards.  Take a look…

I found the cove moulding at Lowe’s and it was about $2.50 for an 8′ long piece.  It actually wasn’t wood and instead a plastic composite. (The wood version was $5+, so this less expensive version was just fine).  At this point of the project, I dragged the Mister  back in to help out.  He measured the length of each tread and cut the cove moulding using a miter box.

Using Liquid Nails, we adhered the moulding to the tread/riser to cover the gap.

And Voila, the gap was hidden!

Once the paint was completely dry, the unveiling was about to begin a.k.a. the removal of the painters tape…

A little trick that I’ve learned along the way is to score the joint where the tape and the painted surface meet with a sharp razor.

This allows the tape to be easily removed and avoids the paint from coming off where it’s supposed to stick (see below where I didn’t score the joint).

Once the tape had all been removed, the stairs were basically done – not too bad right?!

And now it’s time for a ton of pictures (I hope you don’t mind)!

Looking from the front room into the foyer

Close up of the banister

The stenciled foyer wall looking into the front room

Psst…  You probably didn’t realize, but check out all the mouldings in the foyer and front room – I painted them white too. YES, as I was painting the stairs, I just continued right around the room (+ the dining room and kitchen).  Those oak mouldings had to go!  My goodness, the house feels so much fresher now – more on that soon.

That’s a whole lotta dark wood and I love it :)

I definitely was apprehensive about removing the carpet from the stairs and risking the possibility that one of my young kiddos (or me) could fall – carpet has a lot more padding than hard wood.  Thankfully this is my awesome solution…

Sisal Carpet Treads!

These carpet treads are perfect and I love them.  The kind folks at Natural Area Rugs sent me these attractive woven sisal treads which have a cotton twill border and non-slip back.  They’re ideal for giving the added protection for people walking up/down the stairs, plus they protect the actual stairs.  After all that work, the last thing I’d want are scuffs and scrapes!  But the beauty is that you can still see much of the stairs unlike a typical stair runner which covers the treads and risers.

The carpet treads have velcro on the back, so they easily attach to the stairs with a sticky back.

I’m ecstatic about this solution!

And it’s complete! What do you think?  Have you ever considered giving your stairs a makeover? Thank you for following along over the past few weeks!

Related Posts:
The Beginning of a New DIY Project
Phase 1: A New DIY Venture Begins
Phase 2: Filling Holes & Staining Treads
Kitchen Makeover Reveal
Stenciled Foyer Wall

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Wow. Seriously. I’m in total awe and speechless. The transformation is astounding. Makes me REALLY want stairs! YOU are fantastic!

Jenna, your staircase turned out beautifully! I love the colors and the solution for making the stairs more child-safe with the tread pads. I’m definitely feeling inspired to finally tackle our staircase which currently has ugly brown carpet from the 1970s.


I love it! I’m using the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit to makeover my fireplace and trying to work up the courage to do just my banister on my stairs. Cudos to you for your bravery!!

As someone who has also painted her stairs and those damn balusters.. I have complete sympathy and understanding for the amount of work it is (and how infuriating those dumb drips can be)! Your finished project looks fantastic! I love it. Nice job!

Tres inspired! Lovely job, those stair treads seal the deal for me. I too would worry about trips and slips. Thanks for the tutorial….

So glad I came across this post. I’ve just started this same project and was questioning whether I should continue it…kids were complaining the wood was too hard, blah, blah, blah. I think those stair treads may be the compromise I needed to finish off this project! Looks fantastic!

I’m so glad you found me Kim! The tread runners are awesome and I’m thrilled to have found them also – they make me alot less nervous with the kids going up and down the stairs. If you have any questions about the process of the stair makeover, let me know! xo Jenna

Absolutely Fantastique!! Thank you for sharing all the little details. I am pinning this too. I was just thinking about when this summer I am going to schedule my stairs. Ugh, not looking forward to it. I have about 100 things on my “Home Redoux” list already, but the stairs are at the top of it! They look gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing. -K

Oh I absolutely love this!! I too have carpet on my stairs. All the trim is white so it might actually be a doable project. I wonder what’s under my carpet though – eeek!

It looks amazing!!!

You have to take a look Chrissy – you never know what you’ll find hidden under your carpet! Thanks for the kind thoughts. xo Jenna

Oh my word, Jenna! What a stunning transformation. I am tempted to show this post to my husband and see if we can start ours now. ;) Hope we get a chance to meet some time this week at Haven! :)

Thanks so much Amanda – in the end, even though it was a long process, it wasn’t difficult. The result is so worth it! xo Jenna

What a beautiful job you’ve done on your staircase. I love the color of the steps and the treads. It really looks nice with the rug in your living room next to it also.


Thanks Anna and you can absolutely do it too – it was time consuming, but not very difficult. xo Jenna

Hi Jenna, I love the transformation! I have a question for you, did you sand any of the wood before priming and painting it white?

Oh I am in love with your “naked” stairs ;-) I SO want to remove the carpeting from ours because I hate to have to vacuum stairs with attachments. (I don’t think they get as deep cleaned as when I use the ‘main vacuum’.) But I also love the look of stained & painted steps and hope to have it some day.

I know the addition of stair treads is practical but I so love your stairs without them ;-) I suppose with two dogs, if we ever do uncover the steps in our house, I’d have to do something similar.

Great post!

Thanks Connie! Yes “naked” stairs would be great and I was apprehensive about adding the treads, but they really are beautiful and give me the piece of mind that the kids won’t slip.

I was wanting to do this with my staircase but I have builder grade stairs. Would this stll work ? Thanks , Tammy

My house is a “builder house” and had wood stairs covered with carpet, so yours might too. Lift up a bit of the carpet and check it out! -Jenna

Looks great! Did you also sand the posts, handrail and balusters? I have heard both that you do and don’t have to sand them… Confusing!

The stairs look awesome, what a great job! I may have missed it while being distracted by all the great pics….. Did you or can you share the paint colors on the wall and banister please!? :)

Great post I am Furniture Specialists in Fine furniture, oak furniture and home furniture. We offer an exciting range of home office workstations feature good-looking and well craft items most suitable for the modern home office and study.

I lifted the edge of the carpet next to the tiled foyer floor to see what was underneath. I knew something had to be done and thankfully I was in luck with the hardwood flooring instead of plywood.

Great job…!!! I too want a makeover for my builder grade stairs. I do want to keep my solid oak rail and sides and stain the treads. My carpet continues up thru the hallway on second level. How did you “end” the top area???? Mine would have plywood sub flooring …what did you have..? Thanks for all the info…

Really nice project! I love the pictures you post, they make the project look so easy! I want to re-model my stairs and will keep your process in mind! Thank You for sharing!

I love the result of your project and thanks for the simple tutorial. I want to do a similar project but at the top of my stairs is a foyer that is also carpeted and I’d like to keep it carpeted. Is the landing at the top of your stairs still carpeted and if so how did you handle the transition from carpeted landing to urn carpeted stairs?

I just stumbled onto this post while searching on google and boy did it give me a case of Deja Vu! I just completed almost the exact project a few months ago and yes I could not have done it without my husbands muscle power. Ripping the carpeting off was the toughest part. It was more difficult than I thought it wouyld be but i LOVE my new staircase! You can see my transformation here

Love the stairs but the newel posts have to go. Are you planning on changing them? If so please document it with pics… PS you are lucky that you had ready to finish stairs under that carpet!

Is the stain slippery? i want to do the exact same thing and don’t want my kids, dogs, or kitten to slip down them!Wait what about me?….Always thinking of me last (grin). Great job by the way…
I have this idea to take a 3’x8′ wall mural of palm trees/beach scene. cut them into 5.5″ strips(the size of each post) and wallpapering them in sequence so when you look up the stairs you are looking at the scene in its entireety but on each step. who knows. I may mess it up but how cool would that if if it works…

Very neat idea Kim! Without the stair treads, the stained steps are slightly slippery, so I would put something on them even if it’s temporary while the kids are young.

I love your makeover with your staircase. I would love to do this too! With a German Shepherd that sheds her top coat every time the weather gets warm, this would save on me sweeping down the carpet on the stairs! Not to name the “junk” on the my husband & sons bring in on their shoes (tiny rocks and crushed up leaves)!! I am apprehensive about not having anything on the treads although I love seeing the hard woods. I would love to know how you finished off the carpeting at the top of the stairs if you could show that it would be great! Thanks!

Thanks for posting the great step-by-step pics, and for the product info…really useful!
Where did you get that great rug in your living room?

Jenny, the floral rug with the brown background is from Target. I bought it a few years ago, but they still have it in stores and online.

Hi Jenna,

My husband and I are in the middle of redoing our stairs. It’s our first big DIY project, so it’s been tough for us but fun. I’ve been searching and reading many blogs and this is the first time I find yours. I’m very impressed with your blog. I absolutely love how informative your posts are and your step-by-step details. Thank you for sharing. Your stairs turned out beautiful. You’re definitely very talented.
I have one quick question, did you sanded the railing, banister, and balusters before painting them? It seems like that would be a lot of work.


Hi Bonnie,

Congrats on taking the steps to redo your staircase. It may feel daunting at times, but keep with it. The result will be worth it! I lightly sanded the large newel post, but not the banister and railing – too much work. Using the primer really helps create a great base!

Good Luck,

Hi Jenna,
after reading your blog I talked my husband into re-doing our stairs and we just finished today. I love it. It was without a doubt a lot of work. Sanding, staining, painting – it all takes time and we had to do the project in stages, since we had to use the stairs also. I copied your idea to put small molding on the stairs, it gives just a little bit of extra coverage that was needed in the corners and it adds a lot of design.
I wish I could post a pic, so you could see the awesome stairs you inspired.

Thank you!!

Like you,I decided I wanted to bring the carpet up on my stairs and when I get an idea I also have to act on it! I’m going for a similar finish with the dark and the white but I either want white through the middle of the stairs giving a carpet effect or white on the back and overhang part. Love, love, love your extra coving detail. The thing putting me off is I want to do my hall at the same time but I don’t know what the wood underneath is like or how I would replace any damaged floorboards. I guess I won’t know until I take a look! Your staircase is stunning and this is exactly the type of step by step guide I was looking for. Thank you so much for sharing x x x

Hi: Looks good but may I suggest one thing. Your end posts at the beginning of the staircase are way to plain. You should either put a decorative top on it (ie: something round with a pointed tip) or even a square top with a molding around the edges or if not that replace those plain end posts altogether with a curved and textured type post. It would really look beautiful then.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions Charlene. I actually prefer the simpler and more plain style newel post. If it was more ornate, I’d probably change them out to what I currently have.

Your stairs look incredible! I found your blog after we have completed step 1. Woo, I hope step 1 is the hardest! My hands are blistered from pulling out so many staples… someone really wanted that carpet to stay in place! ;) I am so excited to complete this project. We have a small landing at the base of our steps that we are trying to figure out what to do with… maybe add some laminate flooring to match our downstairs flooring? We’ll see. My questions for you are: 1. How hard is it to clean these steps? We have two dogs that go up and down (along with us) and I’m worried that it will be hard to clean them. Any advice? I guess it could be no worse than risking my life climbing the stairs with my big vacuum cleaner! ;) 2. Can you tell where you filled the holes with the stainable wood filler or is it really stainable? I’ve heard mixed reviews! I’ll try to post a picture when we are finished! Thanks for your tutorial!

I need to do this to my stairs. It looks great! Question for you – when I painted my basement stairs in Connecticut (before we moved to FL), I had scuffing along the backs of the stairs (risers?) from shoes hitting the white paint. Have you noticed this on your stairs or do you have a solution for it?

Your stairs look great.After removing my carpeting I noticed the wood was so-so, the risers appalling.I thought bead board, but that didn’t excite me. I came across a Bob Vila site where he puts new treads and risers over the existing.Wow, after just two steps done for an experiment I love where this is going. I wondered what color stain you used on the treads. My color choice was Kona by Rustoleum. It looks almost the same. Now I have 2 problems.
Each tread is a diffferent size, and the risers differ as well so I have to carefully measure. Also compensating for the bottom step will be a challenge<Off to buy more treads and risers and finish this up in a few days!

So glad to find your project! It’s awesome! The beginning pics of the bare stairs looks like you have the same carpenter grade wood steps we do (and repost above states the same). My husband said it wouldn’t work because over time the knots in the wood pop up, that we needed to replace with a better grade of wood. Have you had any issues with the knots since you completed the project?

I do not have the skirtboard along the walls so am not sure mine will look as nice but I did find a site where a remodeler scribed skirtboard to fit existing staircases ( This project looks big enough–if it doesn’t look right I’ll scribe the skirt board after I recover :)

I’ve never had issues with knots popping out and the stairs have been complete for over 2 years. I think if the knot is all the way through, there could be the potential for it to come out, but I doubt it will happen. Good Luck with your project! Jenna

I love the carpet on your wooden stair treads, the treads look smart and beautiful with proper care it will last for a long time, and I truly admire your work, step by step until you make it to this level, thumps up for this.

I enjoy the way you have presented this great information.It makes me wonder why I had not thought of it before! Thanks for this information! Best Regards