3 Easy Ways to Update a Dated Staircase

by Sarah
4 Materials
8 Hours

*This post was sponsored by Basic Coatings, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

My home is a super dated split level that was originally built in the late 60s with an addition built in the 90s. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dated features, but specifically a ton of orangey oak throughout the home. This is most obvious on my staircases so I decided to modernize the space using these three easy steps.

Step One: Paint the Railings and Spindles

My original stair railings had orange oak railings and white spindles. It looked OK but had a very early 90s vibe to it. Now there are lots of ways to update railings but I decided to go with black to create a more modern look. And it was way easier than I expected!!

Start by sanding the railings to remove any sheen and allow the paint to stick better. Wipe away any excess dust and make sure that your surface is nice and clean. Prime the railings with a coat of primer to start. Then paint the railings with two coats of paint. I chose Sherwin-Williams Tricorn black in a satin finish. Initially the plan was to just paint the railings and leave the spindles white. After living with that for a couple of weeks I wasn’t in love with it so I decided to paint the spindles black as well. That was seriously the best decision and now things look way more modern!

In order to ensure durability, it is best to also apply a coat of polyurethane over the railings as that is typically what people touch the most.

Step Two: Refinish the Hardwood Stairs

If your house is like mine, the stairs get a lot of wear and tear, especially with kids and pets going up and down hundreds of times per day. These stairs really needed some love but traditional refinishing where you sand off the previous finish and then completely re-stain and seal can be extremely tedious, messy, and costly. And while I would love to do that one day to change my floor color, it really isn’t realistic for my family right now. So when Basic Coatings offered me this easy floor refinishing product that you can do without the dusty mess, I jumped on trying it! This product made the process of refreshing and refinishing the stairs extremely easy!

This is what the stairs looked like before. Dull, drab, and dirty.

First clean the surface thoroughly using Basic Coatings Squeaky Cleaner for hardwood floors. The cleaner comes in a spray bottle so you can spray directly on the floor, then just wipe using the provided microfiber cloths.

Once it is clean, it is time to apply the refinisher product! Get a new clean microfiber cloth, squirt a little of the Basic Coatings Refinisher directly on your hardwoods, and spread out in an even layer going in the direction of the wood grain. 

Don’t walk on it for at least an hour (longer is recommended for high traffic use). And that is literally it! The wood looks revived and much nicer than it did before and this is so easy and super cost effective! Now I want to do my whole house!

Here is a quick video I created to show you how easy the process really is!

Step Three: Add a Fun Feature Wall

There are so many fun ideas for adding feature walls that I almost couldn’t decide what to do with the space. Overall, my goal was to blend the black railings and the orange oak wood a bit more so the contrast wasn’t quite so obvious. To make this happen, I painted the wall black and added some fun wood slats and a wood picture ledge just to tie it all together. The wall slats were spaced ¾” apart (use a piece of scrap wood to get consistent spacing). Attach to the wall using a nail gun and 2” nails. Super easy! Or if this feature wall isn’t your style, you could also consider just painting the space, adding molding, or adding a wallpaper with a fun pop instead!

And with those three quick updates, my staircase looks completely new , beautiful, and so much more modern.

Resources for this project:
See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
Join the conversation
2 of 48 comments