How To Paint Old Basement Wooden Stairs

The stairway leading down your basement is an area that is frequently overlooked when the basement is being redone. This shouldn’t be the case because these set of steps is not only the first thing that people see when they go down, it is also exposed to damper conditions and rougher foot traffic. There are many choices to giving your basement stairs a fresh and cleaner look. You can rebuild it completely, cover it with carpet or vinyl, or give it a fresh coat of paint. Of the three, repainting the stairs is the easiest and most economical solution. It is very easy and can be a fantastic weekend project for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. All the equipment you will need can easily be found at any local hardware or home improvement centers.

  • Protect nearby walls and surfaces. Using painter’s tape, cover trims, walls, and other surfaces that you don’t want to get painted. If painter’s tape is not available, you can also use masking tape lined with old newspapers or butchers paper.
  • Prepare the areas to be painted. Remove all the old layers of paint and scrape off loose or chipped paint on the steps. You can use a paint scraper or a large chisel. By doing so, the new coat of paint will adhere better to the surface. Ensure that the stairs are smooth and free of remnant finish and other imperfections; sand each step with 80-grit sandpaper. Be careful not to gouge the wood or produce low spots by sanding too hard. With a damp cloth, wipe away the dust and debris that has been left from sanding. If the stairs is really dirty, you can wash the floor with soap and water. Use a hard-bristled brush to scrub the dirt out then rinse thoroughly. Let the wood dry completely before proceeding to the next steps. Once the wood dries, sand it further with a high-grit sandpaper to smoothen the surface. Wipe it down again with a rag. This will ensure that the surface you will be painting is scratch-free.
  • Paint the stairs. You can choose to apply a coating of paint primer on all the surfaces of your stairs. It is advisable that you also paint the bottom or the underside of each step to help prolong the life of the wood, especially if the basement gets damp. Let the primer dry completely before applying the first coat of latex paint. This should take about three hours or so. Make sure to buy skid-free floor paints in order to prevent the surface from getting slippery. If this is not available, buy regular latex paint and stir in one cup of sand to the can that you will be using on the stair treads. Stir the paint well with a stick or stirring rod. Paint each step from the bottom going up. If this is too tough for your back, just paint every other step then let the paint dry completely before doing the other set. Check if the steps require another coat of paint. Don’t forget to paint the runners as well. Remember to let the paint dry for at least one day in between coats.

When painting your wooden stairs, it is best to use a natural bristle brush to avoid shedding. Brush bristles can get mixed in with the paint and create an unsightly bump on your surface. Because basements can get stuffy, always remember to keep the area well ventilated.


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