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Pros and cons of painted stair treads?
tskn
October 30, 2012 in Design Dilemma
I'm doing newly built stairs for my addition and am contemplating painting the treads for the stairs because I will be using porcelain both upstairs and downstairs. Paint could tie the two colors together, but I am wondering if there are any pitfalls to painting -- eg, faster-than-normal wear? I don't want to go with carpet. The attached pic piqued the idea for painted treads. What do you think?
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caspercu
The look of painted stair treads is great, but keep in mind that they are easily scuffed. My off white stair treads have a number of black marks near the bottom were shoes some in contact with them. I always think I am going to repaint them but I never do it. I am probably the only one who notices the marks anyway. The paint however has held up very well.
2 Likes   October 30, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
Painted stairs are beautiful but treacherously slippery. I highly recommend a stair runner. They can be gorgeous!
8 Likes   October 30, 2012 at 6:16PM
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
And here's one from one of my clients' houses!
5 Likes   October 30, 2012 at 6:19PM
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BeautifulRemodel.com
Hi tskn,

Great suggestions by Cynthia, but if you'd prefer to do not have any carpet, a translucent stained wood will be a more durable choice than painted treads. The photo you've posted *could* be a gray stain over a tight-grained wood, its hard to tell without seeing a close-up.

You could also tile the treads with the porcelain you have selected for the other floors. It sounds as though this may be an option for you (if the stairs hasn't been built yet) as the substrate for the tile would need to be factored-in when calculating the rise of each tread. (The variable cannot be more than 3/8" over the entire run)

Steve
1 Like   October 30, 2012 at 8:38PM
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ikwewe
We had a house with beautiful stained wood treads on the stairs. They are slippery too. Tile is slippery, paint, unless you use sanded paint, is slippery. You can see where I am going with this, you really need some kind of traction on the steps. It is not fun to slip off the step and fall.

You can get little mats that stick on each step in the traffic area, from Oriental rug look to animal print to plain. I would recommend those in lieu of carpet. You can still see the beautiful wood but you aren't in danger of sliding off.
4 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 5:40AM
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BjtO Designs
Painted stair treads are so easy and inexpensive. We have high gloss black treads in our 1910 farm house and do not find them at all slippery. I would recommend porch and floor enamel as it will hold up better than other options.

The nice thing about paint is that you can change it when you are tired of the look. We often paint our home staging clients stairs as it is a great way to create some drama and freshen up an often worn area.

Here is a link to some really cool ideas: http://pinterest.com/fabfinish43/painted-stair-ideas/.
6 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 6:10AM
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foxy11
Our stairs are painted, which was done by the previous owner. The stairs can be slippery. I have fallen down a few steps because of this. Mine are painted a dark brown which shows all the dust. I would seriously think of covering them with some kind of runner or other textures as others have suggested above. I would also like to add that if you do paint them, use a few coats of protective coatings. I have marks from when we moved our furniture into the home. The marks are right down to the wood and I do not have the paint colour that was originally used when they painted the stairs. We will be redoing the stairs eventually. Good Luck with whatever choice you make!
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 6:16AM
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Suellen Valetta
We just rebuilt our stairs and we love the wood with white risers. The white paint brightens our entry and staircase. The scuffs were easily removed with a Mr clean eraser.
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 6:33AM
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nevadan
I am about to do a painted staircase. Very classy looking. Treads and risers should be different colors. If desired, you can mix a bit of sand with the paint to make the treads less slippery - very easy to do. They told me this at Ace Hardware. A stair runner always reminds me of a boarding house or an old fashioned tourist lodge. Very creepy, I think.
4 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 6:38AM
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nevadan
I am about to do a painted staircase. Very classy looking. Treads and risers should be different colors. If desired, you can mix a bit of sand with the paint to make the treads less slippery - very easy to do. They told me this at Ace Hardware. A stair runner always reminds me of a boarding house or an old fashioned tourist lodge. Very creepy, I think.
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 6:38AM
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Omega Minus
While painted stairs initially look nice but they need constant upkeep. If you are looking to tie the to spaces together I would suggest painting the risers and leaving the treads wood. The color of the risers could tie in the two rooms as well as having some pieces in both rooms in the same wood family as the treads. FYI I have painted stairs in my house and I'm in the process of replacing them with a nice hardwood.
3 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 6:51AM
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steerman
We have done painted stairs with the run painted dark brown and the rise white. The rise gets very dinged and dingy from toes hitting it. I would recommend something different than white for the rise. Also, to take care of the slippery aspect (for our ancient sheepdog) we installed Liza Phillips Alto Steps. They're beautiful. For a cheaper option, cut up FLOR tiles to match the run size.
0 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 7:27AM
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peachdyer
We had our stairs painted with an almost black from Sherman Williams (floor paint). The risers are white and beautiful. We don't wear shoes in the house, but no one seems to slip (we have a 4 and 5 year old!). My only complaint is that the stairs didn't dry well --- and they still trap dust and small flecks of dirt. I believe they were not primed properly or that the temp was not ideal (painted in December). Any thoughts or similar experiences?
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Elise
Noise factor? I actually enjoy hearing the kids going up and down the stairs, do you need more noise or more peace? Unless they are barefoot, kids in socks will slip on painted stairs without sand mixed into the paint. You will replace the socks more frequently with the sanded stairs, but that is more preferable to an accident.

I painted the stairs with the same color as my front door, lovely dark red, and the color flows into the house as you open the door, carried upstairs by the stairs. I also use it as an accent throughout the house.
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 10:05AM
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momsy
I have painted the risers and left the treads in the natural wood. I liked the contrast and don't have to worry about wear patterns developing in paint. Having the risers darker seemed to give the stairwell depth, even though these were construction grade items.
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Suellen Valetta
I wanted to add I am definetly against carpeted stairs. I had to replace 4 times in 20 years due to wear and stains. Because it was open we paid premium for installation too on high quality carpet. The carbonized standed bamboo we chose for the floor and stairs is extreemely durable and should last indefinitely.

We are usually barefoot so slipping is not an issue and our clawed cat has not damaged the bamboo in the year since the floors were completed. I had to clean the risers once.
0 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I would paint the risers, not the treads. I'd use hardwood treads, and if they are slippery, then I'd get the runner. But I've been on stairs that were not covered and were not slippery. The inspiration photo shows painted risers and wood treads.
0 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 11:26AM
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victorianbungalowranch
I have dark painted stairs (park bench dark green) in a Victorian house and the paint has help up pretty well, and is easy to touch up and isn't too slippery. If it was, I was considering painting rectangle strips on the treads with a matching porch/floor skidproof paint (sanded?) but never had to. Easier to sweep than vacuum too.

I like the look of a natural wood tread and a painted riser too, and that gives you an opportunity to stencil in a bit of design or color if you wish.
1 Like   October 31, 2012 at 11:29AM
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tskn
Thank you guys soooo much. Great info! I think stained or painted will be the way to go....one more crossed of the checklist.
0 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 11:55AM
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aps1
Who makes the striped runner in the above right quadrant? Thanks.
0 Likes   October 31, 2012 at 3:13PM
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stephirey
I have 3 sons - 16,14 and 8 - so you can imagine the state the stair carpet got in with them bounding up and down all the time! I replaced the carpet with a dark wood, high gloss wood varnish on the treads and painted the risers. It looks stunning and after 4 months has not worn or scuffed at all, no one has slipped on them, despite jumping up and down the stairs two at a time! I havent noticed any excess noise and it feels warm and smooth underfoot. So, I would definitely recommend you go for it!
2 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 2:17AM
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ninzerbean
I painted the risers of my stairs with chalkboard paint, they are holding up great, it's been about 3 months now. I plan on writing something on them, a quote from a lovely movie (the Marigold Hotel one) or the standard eye chart, with the big E at the top. I will use pastel chalk because it has a much richer color than regular chalk. I have no recall if this was my idea or if I saw it somewhere. I think is was my idea because I had just been to a friend's house who had painted her risers with white paint and they looked so great.
2 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 5:16AM
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BjtO Designs
What a great idea. I'll have to remember this for my staging projects.
0 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 6:38AM
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Omega Minus
Another idea Ive used for clients is get old tin ceiling tiles and cover the stair risers. either repainted or left just as is for a nice little touch of history. And not to mention they are pretty cheap. New or Used
0 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 7:21AM
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sherryrenee
Mine are painted with a black outdoor paint which happens to match the front door. My risers are white. Never have I slipped or thought once that they were slick. I now rent the house after the last tenant moved all I had to do was a llittle touch up. Use a good quality paint!
0 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 7:30AM
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mathomson5
Risers: loved the blackboard paint idea, but if you want light, keep the wood -- or leave your shoes at the door, or have indoor shoes -- for allergies and other health concerns. After twenty years our steps are lightly worn because we are in socks or bare feet. If the risers are already painted, and your family wears shoes, choose a color that is not white or off white -- like the red from the entry door. Great idea. There is an argument for contrast between treads and risers if stairs are not well lighted, or there are vision issues. If the latter, I like the idea of carpet on the treads only. I am concerned that tin would create opportunities for spiders, etc. Our climate is borderline tropical and I remove more spider webs from my stairs (center of house) than from any other place. For pine stairs, wonder if wall paper would work if the wood was in very bad condition -- the wallpaper used for shoring up flaking plaster walls/lead paint might be nice. I would not use tile, because grout would break up with the pounding, but perhaps linoleum would work. No one has suggested cork, either.

Slippery: Yes, I have slipped on my steps in socks, but I have slipped more on the berber carpeted stairs to the basement. So I removed the berber carpet, replaced it with wood, and wear socks with rubber grips -- or other indoor shoes
Alternative: I am not sure if this was an excuse for less work, because we were overcharged, but the contractor who stained my oak stairs to the basement said he used a product that gave them more grip. I thought he might have been skipping a few steps, but I liked the grip and let it ride. My carpenter planed 1" oak treads to 1/2" so we would continue to have the correct rise from top to bottom. Yes, this can be done!
0 Likes   November 1, 2012 at 4:51PM
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fife2
Don't know why everyone forgets STAIN? Colored stain, transparent stain, wood stain - for a natural look - does NOT wear off; solid stain for an intense color - I painted my entire house with a solid stain - looks just like paint - (is red) and is better for the wood. Stain can be anything you want it to be - and can certainly josh out the beauty of any wood. Why not just a natural dark stain?

Try stain! and NO, we do not own a share in a stain company! :-)
1 Like   November 1, 2012 at 5:16PM
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fife2
Don't know why everyone forgets STAIN? Colored stain, transparent stain, wood stain - for a natural look - does NOT wear off; solid stain for an intense color - I painted my entire house with a solid stain - looks just like paint - (is red) and is better for the wood. Stain can be anything you want it to be - and can certainly josh out the beauty of any wood. Why not just a natural dark stain?

Try stain! and NO, we do not own a share in a stain company! :-)
1 Like   November 1, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Linda
There is a product called Shark Grip for adding to paint. It is a very fine powder so it doesn't settle out of the paint and end up all at the bottom of the can. Plus, the texture isn't nearly as noticeable as the classic answer of using sand.

There are also some non-slip products designed for stained surfaces, but I don't have any experience with them
1 Like   November 1, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
aps1, thanks for asking about the striped carpet. Unfortunately this is just an inspiration photo I've "collected" and have no idea who makes the carpet. I've had the photo a few years, and the actual carpet might be ten years old or more and no longer available. Sorry I can't help with this.

As an aside, I would like to add that the leopard stair runner I showed you (way above!) was a result of my client calling me to say that an elderly guest of his had slipped on his newly refinished stairs. The person wasn't seriously injured, thank God, but it scared my client so much that he said he wanted a runner asap. That's when I provided the custom leopard treatment, which he loved. When he moved to another house a year later, he wanted the same carpet on his new stairs :)

When selecting appropriate carpeting for stairs, check the wear rating. There should be a scale on the sticker that shows whether the product is rated for high traffic areas and stairs. Personally, I love a flat-weave carpet for stairs, because there's no pile to get crushed, ever. There are also some beautiful commercial carpets that would be indestructible on residential stairs.
0 Likes   November 2, 2012 at 9:54AM
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fife2
Never heard of Shark-Grip - will check this out! This sounds like a great solutio for us, as we have 3 southern style porches with steps.
0 Likes   November 2, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design
As a student in 'houzz discussions 101' - this discussion is very informative and enjoyable - am sure tskn has her answer - what with the shark grip - the stain advise - the leopard runner (looking great) the painted stair stories and link - A bevy of tips and ideas -
0 Likes   November 2, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Southern Home Improvement, LLC
Unless you use a high grade enamel, or opt for a commercial grade coating, preferable with low-gloss, maintenance and slipperiness (yes that's a real word) will be an onging issue. Every installation has its own quirks. We opted for a compromise in our old "cape cod" of painted enamel treds and risers with adhered capet treads.
0 Likes   November 3, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Omega Minus
A nice stain or wax would hold up nicely
1 Like   November 3, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Omega Minus
Covering the risers with Ceramic tile or tin ceiling tile remnants is a nice touch. Depending on your style you could leave the tin tile unfinished tin or what ever color works with you decor. If you find used tin tile the weathered look adds great character.
1 Like   November 3, 2012 at 4:53PM
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nevadan
Please note - Shark Grip is a product for adding to cement sealers and cement stains, not for paint (according to manufacturer). Sand is recommended for paint.
0 Likes   November 3, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Linda
The manufacturer clearly states that Shark Grip can be added to most oil and water based paints. Don't be confused because professional sites often refer to coatings instead of using the term paint.
1 Like   November 4, 2012 at 5:24AM
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Debbie
We are in the process of building our new home and we want to paint the stairs. We have two dogs. So I am thinking of painting both the risers and the treads. I want to add words stenciled (some of our favorite things} on the risers. Then I am going to put carpet tiles centered on each tread and loop it under the bull nose and secure it with staples or some small type of edging. I hope this will work.
0 Likes   November 18, 2012 at 7:08AM
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atrice
RESTORE Deck coating is a great choice. I installed hadwoods throughtout and had issue w 2 sets of stairs that were covered in carpet. After ripping out treads were not a stainable wood so we are coating with restore. You can find it at home depot it is a thick coating that provides texture do no slip worry like paint. You can pick any color just like reg paint they will mix for you.
2 Likes   November 18, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Elliot Osorio
Please HELP!!!!
Im considering on painting my stair treads. Unfortunately, after removing a very, very old carpet I realized the very damage pine wood it had. So far, I've tried staining the wood but pine doesnt take the stain very well, even after pre-conditioning the wood, besides, after taking the carpet out, all the staples holes left a permanent mark. I'd hate to replace the stair treads for, maybe oak wood because of the huge expense that takes, instead I was thinking in painting the stairs. So my question is...
What kind of paint should I use? Lacquer? how should i applied? Or if any of u have any comments or better solutions. Please let me know!!!!
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 12:17PM
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atrice
if you want to paint i would fill and sand any of the marks left from the staples, prime and then paint with a hard coating like 100% acrylic you can get at places like sher williams, or smelly oil base paint. roll cut in with a brush, roll it on with a roller then knock it down with a brush all in the same direction to leave a nice fisnish. or i am using RESTORE Deck coating is a great choice. I installed hadwoods throughtout and had issue w 2 sets of stairs that were covered in carpet. After ripping out treads were not a stainable wood so we are coating with restore. You can find it at home depot it is a thick coating that provides texture no slip worry like paint. You can pick any color just like reg paint they will mix for you. with this product there is no need to do any prep work it is a very thick coating that will fill all holes or scratches
2 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 12:39PM
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mathomson5
Before you paint, I would look into a darker stain that would hide the staple marks; an expert repairer of fine furniture, or even boats, might be able to advise you on products that are not readily available that would create a good bond and provide the coverage you need. Before you paint, I would also consider a carpet runner -- a patterned runner can be costly, especially if you use metal to hold it in place, but it is less expensive than replacing the treads. I added a 1/2 of oak on top of pine and it was $2,000, a few years ago; in addition the only source was in California, and it was so expensive to ship that my carpenter hand milled 1" down to 1/2" -- a whole day's work. But these stairs are better than the ones that came with the house. And I am pleased that I spent the money; so much nicer than carpet -- but you need someone really good that cares about getting the treads just the right distance apart, without one too high or too low at the top or bottom. This is critical for safety, especially for young and old, and guests. The stairs to my basement were enclosed, and if your stair is open, with a railing, it could be considerably more.
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Elliot Osorio
Atrice... first of all thanks a lot for the quick response. Secondly, if i use Deck restore, should I apply a final coat of paint of some sore so that I can have a nice clear look. Or I should only apply the acrylic base
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 2:19PM
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kimdee24
Having taken a serious header down a beautifully stained staircase, I am wholly in the 'no way in hell' camp. I adore a beautiful carpet runner.
1 Like   January 22, 2013 at 2:27PM
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atrice
Hi there the deck restore requires no top coat it is a ver thick almost industrial coating..if you check out home depot they have samples of it so you can feel the texture. If you don't like the texture stick to the other option of just filling holes, priming & painting. No problem I like to offer help when avalable.
1 Like   January 22, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Elliot Osorio
Atrice... Sounds good... I will apply a coat of the deck restoring paint that should take care of the damaged wood and holes. However my only concern is the final look. Is it going to have a texture?Because to be honest I'd like to have a clear and smooth surface, plus may be add a shinny finish just like a enamel or lacquer paint would. So what do you recommend?
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 3:35PM
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atrice
In that case you won't like the lookd of the deck restore it is very textured. For the look you want I would fill the gauges and holes with wood putty sand use a primer then go with a high gloss acrylic top coat a few coats just like painting cabinets. Roll first then nock down with a brush for a nice clean finish. If you don't find the pure acrylic at a specialty paint only store the big box stores sell a trim pain that is heavy coverage an enamel or oil base is what you really want for traffic; however they would have to be unused for cure time. I do warn that the high gloss is very slippery under foot. I have painted staits white before and were too dirty looking so I used partial FLOR carpet square tiles if you like modern but no carpet
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Elliot Osorio
wooooow awesome suggestions... and u r right about the slippery, so I may go for a not so glossy finished, and also white stairs would look dirty. So... It has been decided! I will paint the raiser with primer and finished with semi-glossy, and for the stair treads i will fill in the holes and try to cover some of the scratches, and paint with one or two coats of black semi gloss enamel. The handrails will also be painted, black and white balusters. Lastly, since its a U-shape stair case, it has a wide landing, it has plywood before, Im planning on painting that as well, and finally some of the details, like add a nosing to the landing step and painting the stringers and possibly add a skirt board. Will see how it tuns out. What do u think?
1 Like   January 22, 2013 at 4:26PM
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atrice
Sounds like a plan...just remember paint is the cheapest route to go and if you don't like it is also cheap to change (just your time is needed. Best of luck =)
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Elliot Osorio
Thanks a lot!! and its good advice about choosing the cheapest route. A lot of people let go to 1000-2000 for something they could've also like for 100-200.... I really appreciate ur help... I'll get on it first thing tomorrow and maybe post some before-after pics...
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 4:43PM
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atrice
you are welcome, def post pics when you can
0 Likes   January 22, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Nancy Adams
Eliot Osorio: We have the same setup on our basement stairs. What you are suggesting is what we want to do. Have you done it and how did it turn out? We've told our basement remodeler not to carpet the stairs since I don't like carpeted basement stairs and want it to look more like our very nice staircase upstairs. Although the treads and risers are now painted gray, I want to make the risers white and the treads very dark brown after we fill in the dings and chips with wood putty. We currently have more than 1/2" gaps at each end of the 1" treads. Can we simply add a 1/2" by 8" board for a skirt or should we replace the treads with unfinished wood treads from the big box store (they're 3/4" pine)? A handyman at the store told me to make sure to buy the non-skid tape strips to put on the end of whatever treads we use to keep us from slipping on them. The other concern we have is with the plywood landing that had a metal nosing that's been long removed. How do we improve that? We'd appreciate any information or ideas.
0 Likes   May 5, 2013 at 7:50PM
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notroh80
I'm so glad to have come across this discussion topic. I want to give my staircase a face-lift but was unsure about pros and cons of painting treads. I can now say that I've decided to go for a color stain! Thanks guys!!
0 Likes   August 17, 2013 at 6:54AM
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PRO
FINNE Architects
I think painted treads would need constant maintenance. Consider wood treads and painted risers, which is a classic combination.
1 Like   August 17, 2013 at 1:41PM
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sislonski
The product "RESTORE" doesn't have to be textured. It is only textured when using the textured roller to apply it to a surface, if using a soft paint roller for example you will get a smooth finish but it won't be slippery smooth. I've used Restore for my deck and love it, I used the textured roller as I wanted the texture for my outdoor deck. If using it indoors which I am considering doing, I would use a regular paint roller or brush to apply it for a smoother finish as the textured finish is hard on bare feet. The Restore product can be stained almost any colour of your choice and needs nothing to finish it as in a top coating or anything. Once dry it's good to go. I've used restore on wood stairs on my outdoor deck and they're like new. I applied it earlier this summer, it's now fall and they have had plenty of traffic and the hot sun beating down on them and they are still like new.
0 Likes   October 5, 2013 at 2:44PM
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incubus_of_habit
The Deck Restore is a great idea. I was looking at it in Home Depot the other day while waiting for a gallon of paint--but I never made the connection that it'd be perfect for covering the cheap plywood tread on our stairs after we rip out the carpet. Brilliant!
0 Likes   October 15, 2013 at 9:45AM
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PRO
Evergreen Hardwood Floors
I agree that the wood treads with a painted riser is a good, classic look. If you are worried about slipping on the wood treads, there are anti-slip low-VOC hardwood floor finishes out there. Your local pro would know about them.
0 Likes   October 15, 2013 at 10:20AM
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steerman
Google "Alto Steps" I have them and they're really pretty and plush. Also, expensive. I buy the ones on sale (which are still expensive!) I think she's coming out with a more affordable low pile line.
0 Likes   October 15, 2013 at 10:22AM
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