Painting the Stairs: Basement Inspiration

by Kimba on May 4, 2011

in Basement,Do it yourself,Favorite Things

Yes, my friends. We’re still working on the basement. Sometimes I think it’s the project that will never end. Recently, the stairs have come onto my radar screen. More specifically, what the ding-dong-dilly are we going to do with the stairs?

There’s absolutely nothing special about these basement stairs. They’re just your standard builder-grade straight staircase. Pine treads…no turns to make it interesting…not even a railing. Yet.

I know that I want to paint or stain them for a couple of reasons. First, there won’t be any other carpet down there (except maybe an area rug), so carpeted stairs don’t make sense. And, of course, painting or staining will be much easier on the budget than regular carpet or even a carpet runner.

If I wasn’t already sold on the idea, then this gorgeous staircase from Take the Side Street would have done it! LOVE that yellow color and the black accent stripe makes them extra fab. Anna wrote a fantastic tutorial too.

House Beautiful

With boys and tennis shoes, I’m a little concerned about scuff marks, so I’m leaning toward a dark color. I’m not sure about black, but these beautiful black steps may convince me. Would it make me crazy that they will show all the dust? Perhaps. Maybe I should just paint the stairs dirt-colored?

Martha Stewart

I’ve thought about doing something fun and trendy like these aqua stairs. But I’d hate to have to paint them again in a few years when I’m over turquoise and yellow. Does anyone ever get over those colors?

My hubby leans a little more toward staining the stairs. What would he think of these painted and stained crate stairs from Funky Junk Interiors? If you haven’t already checked out Donna’s incredible staircase, you need to click over. Even if you would never to anything that adventurous, you’ll be inspired by the idea. It’s truly incredible.

Since our basement is going to be a playroom, basketball, football, baseball-watching area, maybe I could stencil our favorite team logos? Holy cow! My boys would go nuts for that!

I’m sure that painted stairs will become naturally worn and distressed over time. That’s part of the charm, right? Maybe that’s why I adore these deliberately rustic and worn steps from That’s My Letter.

Talk to be about painted stairs! Have them? Want them? Love them? Hate them? Do you have any tips for painting stairs or keeping them clean?

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1 Emily@remodelingthislife May 4, 2011 at 10:04 am

I am sure I’ll be in the minority on this, but I like them plain – no paint. Just simple and classic and nothing to worry about with maintenance and upkeep or trends. I love a pretty wood staircase just as it is.

That said, I am sure I’ll enjoy seeing yours when you’re done just as I enjoyed all of these pretty pictures 🙂

2 Brooke @ Inside-Out Design May 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

I love all the painted stairs!!! I think that if you want a bright color you should just go for it- that’s kind of the liberating thing about basement stairs (although as someone who has no basement I’m not really an expert!) but it’s more casual, and since you’ll be using it as a fun hangout I think it’d be awesome to have really fun steps leading everyone down there. The stairs would be setting the tone for the rest of the basement! 🙂

3 Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs May 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

LOVE the painted stairs!! However, if it were me and MY boys, I’d go with the stain. You could get your paint on by painting just the edge/border of the stairs a fun color. I’d do black, because I’m THAT fun. But, I agree about the maintenance. Black stairs (all black) would always be dusty and the painted runner would have to be repainted. Frankly, pre-distressing actually looks like a lot of work to me! 🙂

Yeah, stick with stain. You’ll have a happy hubby, too!
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs´s last blog post ..Bright Cash Envelopes!

4 Kimba May 4, 2011 at 10:31 am

That’s a genius idea, Kelleigh! I could stain the steps and just paint the edges! That would satisfy hubby and I could still do something fun! Thinking… Thinking…

5 Meredith May 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

I might stain, but do a fun color on the rails. Or, paint the risers a fun color and stain the treads.

I have white painted floors in the bedrooms. The white throws a lot of extra light into the room, which might be nice for a basement. They have worn pretty well although they definitely show dirt–I think black would show an equal amount of scuffs, though.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

6 Ever - The red house by the lake May 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

We used to have ugly (or mismatching rather) stairs in our house, and I was nervous about painting them because it seemed like such a big work. It definitely took a lot of time, because we had to sand them before, but I still feel proud when I walk up and down. I blogged about the process here. (Hoping that linking works…)

I can’t wait to see what you will do with yours. I love the last picture, I think that would look so good on basement stairs (and possibly even in other colors, like white and turquoise for a coastal feel….)
Ever – The red house by the lake´s last blog post ..The red deck by the lake

7 Jaime @ thatsmyletter May 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Kimba thanks for the feature. My kids (and I) still love our starry surprise striped stairs. And the distressing really hides any dirt but as with any floor surface crumbs and dust gather in the cracks. Highly recommend, not a single regret or complaint! Good luck, looking forward to seeing your choice.
Jaime @ thatsmyletter´s last blog post ..R is for Restock

8 Janet May 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Love the idea of painted stairs but agree with the wear and tear comments above. What about using more than one color of stain to make a runner? Dark and light both? In looking at your pictures and my own stairs, you only see the treads from the top, but not the risers… Those you only see from the bottom of the stairs. You could get away with painting only the risers in your fun color and it would be an area that receives less wear too… I googled “painted stair risers” and the first result was a gallery that had tons of interesting pics, including wallpapered risers! That one was new to me!

Good luck, can’t wait to see what you come up with!

9 Traci May 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Cool stairs!

<3 Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations

10 Su@The Intentional Home May 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I really want to paint my stairs to the basement rainbow like this:

But my hubby is convinced that painted stairs will carry noise. . .he says the carpeted stairs muffle the noise of all our kids and their friends going up an down the stairs. . . ugh.

anyone have any insight on this. . .do the uncarpeted stairs make a lot of noise???

11 Jennifer Spadaro May 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I love the painted stairs. As far as colors I think you should do something fun and silly. Its harder to do that in the main areas of our house, but the stairs to the basement should be a place where we feel a little bit more comfortable taking a risk, being adventourus or just taking note to the fact that this room is going to be a playroom and fun area. I say make it fun colors that make everyone smile.

12 Jennifer Juniper May 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Love that pepsi one! Someone linked up stairs that they covered with brown paper bags for one of my parties – it almost looked like a leather treatment! It’s amazing what is happening with stairs out there in the blogosphere!
Jennifer Juniper´s last blog post ..Re-using Costco Apple Containers

13 Anna @ Take the Side Street May 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Hey there, thanks for the stair feature! There will definitely be some wear and tear on the painted stairs, even if you seal them… but I love that and my favorite thing about the inspiration photo I used for my project was just that — it didn’t look perfect and shiny and new! I’m actually looking forward to them wearing down as they get used — it’s like distressing, it feels comfortable and lived in to me. Good luck, whatever you decide 🙂

(the only real con in my eyes is you can see dirt… another reason to seal them, makes them easier to clean!)
Anna @ Take the Side Street´s last blog post ..Sofa Table Instructions- Pt 1

14 Amelia@ Wind Chimes May 5, 2011 at 2:58 am

I like Martha Stewart’s stair’s design – it’s so neutral but kinda sassy.

I totally agree with you. A dark color stairway should be your layout if you have active kids in the house.

I used to have a white-themed stairway but my young daughters keep smudging it. This becomes worst when it’s windy outside. The dust and other particles from outside our house keeps coming in.
Amelia@ Wind Chimes´s last blog post ..Accessorize your Living Room with Wind Chimes

15 Diane @ kitchen-dreams May 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

great inspiration photos. you could use a really great colored stain. we stained our guest bathroom door a dark warm red. it’s fantastic. if you do go with black, paint some kind of lighter color along the edge just so people don’t trip…especially in the dark. great post.
Diane @ kitchen-dreams´s last blog post ..If you are lucky enough to be in Portland- Oregon on Saturday May 7th

16 Melissa May 5, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Kimba – Let me encourage you to PLEASE, for the sake of safety, reconsider carpeting your stairs and the area just at the bottom (where someone would land if they, unfortunately, fell). We just had a church friend die from injuries from a fall down basement stairs. Safety should always take priority over aesthetics. Sorry to alarm you, this is just very fresh in my mind.

17 Sarah May 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I don’t think you can go wrong, they are all incredibly cute ideas! I would love to have a basement!

18 Holly May 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm

My parents have painted stairs in the past, with an oil based paint, in a dark black/green, it held up very well. . .or what about painting the edges and have the natural stain/stair color be the “runner”? Then the paint wouldn’t wear off so quickly. (just a thought-I know whatever you do will be lovely!)

19 Bethany May 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I would stain with paint trim. you could always change up the trim easily if you got bored. I just saw a wooden stair case that had a drawer in the bottom step. Can’t remember what blog I saw it on but its genius ! See if you can do that esp. in a basement. Every bit of storage helps.

20 Penny May 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I am a carpenters daughter and there is no painting of real wood allowed! However…if I could do it in someone else’s house… I think I would stain the middle section and paint the edges a medium/darkish colour then add details like: kid hand prints, foot prints, initials, team logos etc. I did this on our basement walls because it was fake panel and I detest it! We are going to renovate eventually but until we did the real job…I painted the back ground colour then let the kids paint with an accent colour however they wanted and I love the hand prints and sponged hearts the most. (Even now that they are big!)
Penny´s last blog post ..Great Giveaway!

21 Susan @ Busy at Home May 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I love these inspiration photos! I have wooden basement stairs, too, and I would love to paint them someday. It’s just too far down on the list of to-do’s. 🙂

22 Funky Junk Interiors May 10, 2011 at 2:26 am

Ohhhhh let me at those bare stairs of yours! 🙂

Paint a carpet runner on stained steps? The best of both of your worlds.

You’ve found some really awesome inspiration with your collection! And thanks for featuring mine. 🙂 I personally have never regretted even one minute about not re-carpeting my stairs. They are so easy to take care of.

Just a note of caution though… I’d suggest a non glossy paint if you were to paint. I used craft paint for the designing on mine. It wears like crazy and is not slick to walk on.

Funky Junk Interiors´s last blog post ..Being original takes GUTS and gets you on Apartment Therapy

23 Lucrecia May 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I have the ones from Funky Junky saved and my husband is on board to do that…but we haven’t taken the leap! might make a good summer project though!

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