How to paint stairs white? Or any colour
- Sand Down - Sanding will remove any old gloss or protective lacquers from the spindles, providing the perfect surface to apply the new paint for a great finish. Use fine sandpaper for this and remember to remove any carpet from the stairs first and place a sheet on the floor below to catch the dust.
- Clean - Nice and easy. Just get a damp cloth and wipe down those spindles to remove any dust and dirt that’s still on there so you’re not painting over them once you start. It's also good at this point to give the whole staircase a quick vacuum so you’ve got a nice, clean environment to work from.
- Apply Primer - Adding a primer before painting is very important (so don’t skip this bit!) as it’ll seal up those wooden spindles. This means that when you come to paint the spindles the paint won’t soak into them and you’ll need fewer coats of paint. A good primer also helps enhance the overall finish. Pop some painters tape around the top and bottom of the spindle and use a small detail brush to apply the primer to these parts. This will stop you sloshing primer all over the underside of your banister and stairs. Then for the rest of the spindle you can use a larger paintbrush.
- Paint - Remember, don’t start painting until the primer coat is completely dry! While different types of primer take different times to dry, you’re probably safest leaving at least 24 hours before applying your white paint.
Please see our Tips for Painting Staircase Spindles article for more in-depth information.
There are clear, matt, satin and gloss varnishes, plus tinted versions that will add a coloured finish. Many varnishes will provide you with a heat and water resistant, durable finish which will need very little maintenance (always check the manufacturer’s features and recommendations). Coloured varnishes, however, do not penetrate the wood, so add one or two coats of clear varnish to help prevent colour loss.
You can use oils to seal hardwood – but they are not recommended for softwoods as they discolour and dirty too easily. There’s plenty of choice and application is straightforward, either by cloth or brush. Some will accept varnish for protection after application.
Layers of French polishing, a mix of alcohol and shellac, will provide an excellent gloss finish, although it can be easily scratched and damaged by liquids or anything hot. Two-part plastic coating is a more hard-wearing alternative, designed to provide resistance to scratches, liquids and heat.
Liming – unslaked lime and water – comes into its own for coarse grained woods such as oak. When dry, it needs rubbing down with glass paper, then coating with French polish, finally a coating of white polish. An easier method involves mixing white matt emulsion with water, to about the consistency of milk, then brushing it on before sealing with two coats of satin varnish. Easily applied liming wax is also available.
Please note, we always advise that you read the manufacturers instructions and do a test on a small section before carrying out any painting or finishing. The above is just a guide, Blueprint Joinery are not responsible for any misuse when it comes to finishing a product.