One of the first features any visitor may notice in our home is the staircase, so we should be doing our best to ensure it leaves an excellent first impression. The choice usually comes down to updating it by painting or staining the stairs and railings. Unfortunately, choosing the wrong option may make the staircase an unpleasant focal point of the room. The right choice, however, even if it entails both painting and staining, should be aesthetically rewarding and impressive to any guest — so let’s see how to decide.

Painting vs. Staining Stairs and Railings

Before starting any home improvement project, it’s vital to determine how much time it would take to complete it. When it comes to stairs and railings, the prep work makes up the bulk of the process. Naturally, that may sway a busy homeowner to go for the faster option.

In general, staining stairs requires more time since it’s presumed that the stairs have been previously painted. In that case, we first have to remove (strip) the paint, which may require expertise only professional painters can boast with. Once the paint is off, we must sand the stairs and railings before adding an even coat of a stain. All of this adds up and makes staining once-painted stairs more time consuming and expensive overall.

Because time is money, and more labor equals more money, too, most homeowners opt to have their stairs and railings painted instead. The current paint isn’t so problematic when it comes to prep work, as the stairs may only require a quick sanding before we apply another coat of paint. However, the project will drag on if we have to remove the carpet or if there are several coats of paint and varnish on the stairs.

When painting the stairs, the painters tape and tarp the surface before sanding down the shiny clear coat. Once that’s done, they prime the surface using a suitable primer and top it off with a couple of coats of glossy paint (the color is your choice!).

So Which Is Better?

There isn’t a winner! It all depends on the design of the home and the wear and tear that the stairs and railings will go through. However, a good rule of thumb is to stain stairs if the home is a bit older. If it’s modern, any paint color will probably do!

The Foot Traffic Matters a Lot…

How we treat our home plays a crucial role in interior design. If we have pets, wear shoes inside, and have stairs in the central part of the house, the foot traffic is a vital factor to consider.

If there will be a lot of wear and tear in the future, properly staining and sealing the stairs and railings may be the more durable option. In combination with a good and correctly installed runner or some protective treads, the stain should last for decades!

In comparison, though a good paint job may offer similar longevity, it’s easier to scuff the paint and make it seem worn down. Because of that, you may want to opt for a runner to ensure long-lasting results. Alternatively, you can paint the treads a darker color.

…But So Does the Interior

Taking into account your home interior too, here are a few tips you can rely on:

  • Older, updated homes may benefit from a combination of paint and stain. You can paint the risers but give the treads a quick stain. A good option is to paint the risers white; they will almost always perfectly match any color you pick for the treads.
  • You want to keep the stairs and railings looking perfect for a long time, but that’s impossible in heavy traffic. To prolong the look of a freshly updated staircase, opt for darker stains or paints. These should hide any future imperfections (scuffs and marks).
  • For a quick transformation, use paint over older, stained wood. Paint the handrails, spindles, and risers if you want to give the staircase an entirely new (and fresh!) look.
  • In case your home is a bit more modern, you can opt for an accent color for the railings. That should help your staircase grab attention right from the get-go.

Don’t Leave Anything to Chance — Call Mike’s Decorating and Painting Now

Updating your stairs and railings can quickly become a headache if you decide to DIY your way through the project. Instead, set a budget and timeline you’re comfortable with and let professional painters do their magic. Mike’s Decorating and Painting experts will ensure your staircase shines again and keep any sloppy DIY mistakes at bay. Contact us to get your appointment today!