How do I strip off old stain and paint easily and cheaply


When I ripped out my old staircase and added a new one it was to be one of the Showcase pieces in my home. With some stain that became darker then I wanted and then was painted over with an even darker brown it is horrible then someone decided to put carpeted stair treads to cover all of the one out paint which of course made it horrendous looking and I think I forgot to say as you walk into my home that is the first thing you see to the right and I just wanted it to look like a gorgeous aspect to my home oh did I add that having family members help me do this because at the time I had recently become a widow I surely was not paying attention to what they were doing and also my husband would have been in charge of that but since he was no longer here everybody wanted to help out oh boy did they have a LOL so now I would love to get some easy and quick advice on how to fix this mess and trust me it is a mess so much so that at one point I hung a blanket in front of the staircase for one of the holidays that I had open house for LOL please help

  17 answers
  • Flipturn Flipturn on Oct 20, 2021

    While a person can save money by doing the project themselves, as opposed to hiring out the labour, I would not advise anyone to try to save money by purchasing cheap paint. Cheap quality paint is thinner, does not cover as evenly and drips more, (=more wastage) than higher quality paint. It is not as durable either compared with higher quality paint, so I would not recommend using it for a staircase.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Oct 20, 2021

    Sorry, not an easy fix. You could sand, prime, and repaint. It would be expensive and time consuming to strip off the existing paint and stain or repaint with a color of your choice.

    Use good quality paint for the fix.

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Oct 20, 2021

    I would use a good paint and primer to redo it

  • You can use Citristrip on the staircase. It will be time-consuming though.

  • William William on Oct 20, 2021

    Citristrip stripper will remove the paint and some of the stain. Since stain absorbs into the wood grain you will need to sand to get down to raw wood if you want to restain or just seal with a clearcoat.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 20, 2021

    Citristrip would be the best method. It's not a bad odor so you can do it indoors. I would definitely strip it down and then start over. Make sure you use floor paint for high traffic. I did a set black and until we moved furniture up & down (and someone let it scrape the stairs) it held up for many years.

    You could add panels on the risers for a nice touch to break the paint up. Removable wallpaper works very well.

  • Em Em on Oct 20, 2021

    I spent and entire summer redoing my staircase in an 1860's house. I tried every stripper known to man on it and ended up sanding it. Use a belt sander for treads and hand sand railings and balusters.

  • Here is a great tutorial for stripping off paint:

  • Janice Janice on Oct 20, 2021

    Any way you go about improving your issue will be time consuming if you do it yourself. If you are not up to spending a lot of time, just clean the stairs well, choose a paint labeled as floor paint, and repaint the stairs. I'd suggest two for the treads and a different one for the risers. Alternatively, you could add some decorative wallpaper or self-stick tiles to the risers and floor paint to the risers.

  • Dee Dee on Oct 20, 2021

    This is going to be a big messy project for you. First you should probably use Citrstrip. Make sure you protect your floor and everything around where it can drip. Then sand lightly. Prime and paint. I would do it in sections. If you have one person you can count on to help great. If not, either do it yourself or hire a trusted handyman.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 21, 2021


  • Annie Annie on Oct 21, 2021

    The only way to fix it is to remove what has been done, unfortunately. You need to strip the existing paint (by sanding and/or using a paint stripper)

  • Stephanie Chaves Stephanie Chaves on Oct 21, 2021

    Thank you everyone for the advice. In the end I’m probably going to have to hire someone to do this.I didn’t realize what it intailed until I read your responces… Thanks again

  • Betsy Betsy on Oct 21, 2021

    Hi Stephanie: My go to is Citristrip. It will take off all of the old paint, but not the stain as that's deep into the wood. Your family was trying to help, but, apparently the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing :( You can paint the stairs to look like wood, here's a few sites that show you how to do that:

    Paint every other stair first, so that you can go up and down without stepping in fresh paint :)

    Then, after about a month or so, to give the paint a chance to cure, you can put a runner on the stairs, or the tread type things, of which I'm not a big fan.

    This should be pretty inexpensive.

    Good luck and don't let your family help :)

  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 24, 2021

    Its going to be hard to get it back to bare wood, but it can be done 2 ways: 1) sand down to the wood, then you will probably need to use a stripper to remove any stain left in the wood fibers like Klean-Strip. This is a toxic stripper and you will need to really ventilate the area, wear ventilating mask, gloves and googles. Rent a sander with a hose and bag to keep the dust down, like an edge stripper from Home Depot or equipment rental place.

    2) Second way would be to just strip using the Klean-Strip, I use a scraper at first, then use steel wool to get the stain out of the wood fibers. Again take all precautions to ventilate and protect yourself. Work small areas.

    To restain, I would do some test pieces on the stair to really get an impression of the desired result in your lighting. Use a wood conditioner before staining each area to get a uniform color. I would follow up with a penetrating oil sealer like a tung oil.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Oct 25, 2021

    It needs to be sanded or stripped