How do I update our staircase?

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We moved into our 70's home 7 years ago and really do not like our staircase. We did remove all the carpeting and need to restain the stairs again. I bet a lot of homes out there have these staircases and are in the same dilemma as me.

Any ideas on how we can update on a budget?

q how do i update our staircase

Stairs leading up from the front door.

q how do i update our staircase

Stairs going down from the front door.

  12 answers
  • Heje Heje on Apr 23, 2019

    Only stain the treads and paint the risers another lighter color.

  • Rebecca Taylor Rebecca Taylor on Apr 23, 2019

    Hi Michelle, if you want something easy that will make a big difference, find a nice stencil and stencil the risers. It will be the first thing people notice when they see the stairs.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 23, 2019

    Wallpaper, tile, or contrast paint on the risers.

    Replace the style of handrail to the kind that goes on top of the spindles. Stain them instead of painting.

  • The dark stain/paint on the tread looks really good, but def go with a lighter (a good bit lighter) on the riser/front of each step. Stencil is nice, but can look "too busy" sometimes. The BIGGEST difference would be to simply replace all of the spindles from the plain wood to a metal. Please look at the attached pics. These are available at Home Depot. We have them on our deck, but they would work just as nicely inside, plus an easy install!

  • DebraY DebraY on Apr 24, 2019

    I am sorry for you, I would put up a sheet of two of dry wall for the first picture and get rid of the flat spindals.

  • Harish Basi Harish Basi on Apr 24, 2019

    I would just paint the risers in white satin or semi gloss finish. Good luck

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 24, 2019

    Depends on your taste and what you want. Do not do something unless it is what you like. Saw a lady who was into collecting slices of geodes put wall paper on the risers of her stairs. Not eveyone's cup of tea but it reflected her and her life's interests.

  • Gaylene Gaylene on Apr 25, 2019

    We removed carpet from upstairs & stairs. Replaced railings with wrought iron. Installed beautiful oak plank treads. A beautiful update.

  • Marm Marm on Apr 25, 2019

    It would be more work than $, but I think you should sand everything down and stain a lighter shade. This staircase woukd look best if everything was same shade, don’t break it up with contrasting shades. I could see something like photo below suited to both a modern or rustic/farmhouse style.

  • V Smith V Smith on Apr 26, 2019

    I have a very similar railing on 2 staircases and across a loft area. Ours is still stained a med brown but since we had all the other trim painted white it doesn't seem to scream 1982 as much as it used to. The reason we have opted to keep the railing is because it is incredibly stable. It will be hard to match the strength you get from 2 big screws in the rail and 2 into the wall at every spindle.

    I saw a very similar railing on Love It or List It and it was painted a light grey with grey treads and white risers. It looked good and still read as contemporary without looking too dated.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on May 07, 2019

    Yes, the unrefined basic style and the plank handrails really date this stairwell.


    Unfortunately though, the way in which the balusters have been cut, the absence of a proper newel post, the absence of stringers, and the way all the parts are assembled will not make attaching new handrails easy.


    You are right- this is a common example of how builders in the 70's cut corners when they slapped houses up.


    If you are going to spend time and money on updating the stairwell, then you may want to double think continuing to have the balusters going up and down, open to the other rooms. Considering the price of individual balusters, you may want to have these walls drywalled instead.


    Depending on what your budget is, instead of trying to update the stairwell piecemeal, I would suggest to save up and redo everything at the same time.

  • Debi53 Debi53 on May 07, 2019

    I actually like the gray risers (maybe because I painted mine the same shade!) but I would paint the spindles and hand rail the same or a slightly lighter shade of the gray. The stair rails are very DIY looking and I think painting them a darker shade will give them a more expensive look. Going darker will also make them 'go away' rather than calling attention to them like the current black/white scheme does. We had 3 inexpensive white plywood bathroom vanities that looked very dated. We painted two a very dark brown and one a dark gray. Just going from white to dark immediately updated them. When we had our house appraised, the appraiser thought we had installed new cabinetry because they didn't look like the 1970's cabinets that they were. I think you would get the same effect by going dark with your stair rails and handrail.