Removing Staircase Carpeting and Painting it White

When we moved into our house a year and a half ago our stairwell was dark, outdated and always looked dirty no matter how much we vacuumed.  I searched the internet for inspiration on paint colors, and ideas to brighten up this otherwise dark space. Once we nailed down what we wanted to do, we went to work and broke it into three phases as it isn’t easy to do home projects with a young toddler on the run.

We started by repainting the stairwell and foyer’s pink walls white, and updating the light fixtures. We decided to use Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace” for the walls and found two sconces on Wayfair. For the banister I chose Benjamin Moore’s “Newburyport Blue”, I was inspired by Baltic Sea colors and felt like it gave the entryway a modern twist. Fast forward a year and we finally pulled up the dingy carpeting to find stairs that were in great shape.

After watching several tutorials and talking with my local paint shop, we came up with a plan on how to tackle the wooden stairs. Here’s a step by step guide on how we went from carpeting to white stairs.

  • Pull up old carpet, remove staples and any nails using pliers
  • Power sand entire stairwell, we bought this one for around $50 and 2 packets of 120 grit sandpaper. I recommend using goggles as well as a face mask as there will be a lot of dust from the sander.
  • Use wood putty to fill any holes left from nails and staples as well as any cracks (our house is 100 years old, so there were a few cracks here and there), allow to dry properly before sanding.
  • Power sand a second time to smooth out the entire surface
  • Vacuum and wipe down the stairs to ensure stairs are free of debris before you put down your base coat.
  • Before you start painting you’ll want to decide if you want to be stuck upstairs or downstairs as you’ll need to allow the primer and paint to dry.
  • Using a hand brush apply a thin coat of Latex primer to stairwell allow to dry for 6-8 hours to ensure it has properly dried before you begin painting
  • Apply your first thin coat of paint lightly using a roller for even coating and a hand brush to fill in any missed spots. Allow to dry for 4-6 hours.
  • Apply your second coat and allow to dry for 6-8 hours.
  • Depending on how the stairs look after 2 coats, you can decide whether or not to add another coat, I chose to do a third coat which I painted at night to allow enough dry time.

We are so happy with the results, and when we looked back to how the foyer and staircase looked when we moved in we know we made the right choices.


Downstairs Painted, we chose this white for the upstairs hall
Carpet removed, banister painted
Almost done

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