Picture showing wood staircase with risers painted in Benjamin Moore Steam AF-15

A beautifully painted staircase unites form and function, creating a unique focal point in your home to be enjoyed on a daily basis. But the many different components of a stairwell require a diversity of paint products for quality results.

Stair treads are high-traffic surfaces, demanding a durable, washable paint job that lasts. The railings require a paint that maintains its color well and can be touched and washed frequently without fading. And the stairwell walls should be covered by a beautiful interior paint coating that resists denting and scratching from daily movement up and down the stairs. Read on for specific paint recommendations to help you achieve your vision for your staircase.

Best Paint for Stair Treads

Staircase steps painted in Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel, Simply White OC-117Staircase steps painted in Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel, Simply White OC-117

Because it’s one of the most frequently used places in a house, staircase steps are subject to daily foot traffic. A low-quality paint or mismatched paint product will easily chip under movement or fade instead of coming clean when scrubbed. For the highest quality finished product, the paint you use on interior steps should be formulated for durability, slip-resistance, and washability.

Specialty Floor Paint

Homeowners will want to use paint that is specially formulated for floors when painting stair treads. Specialty floor paint is designed for slip-resistance, despite having a glossier finish than many other types of paint. It’s also engineered to withstand foot traffic, unlike other interior paints intended for vertical surfaces.

Semi-Gloss or High-Gloss Finish

A paint sheen not only affects the aesthetic of painted surfaces, it also determines how effectively it can be cleaned and how well it resists damage. The best type of paint for staircase steps will have a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. A matte or flat finish covers imperfections well, but is easily scratched and dented. Glossy finishes create a hard, protective coating for maximum durability. And while a flat finish is easily discolored by dirt and stains, semi-gloss or high-gloss sheens are easy to wipe clean. Washability is particularly important for white paint, but is necessary for any coat of paint.

Recommended Paint Products for Treads

Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio is a premium floor enamel for areas of your home that experience high foot traffic, such as staircase steps. This product features superior color retention and durability, for a long-lasting finish. Floor & Patio can be recoated in 4 hours, and withstands light foot traffic after drying overnight. If your staircase needs to be back in use sooner, Benjamin Moore Command Paint is an ultra fast-drying finish that is ready for normal use after just 24 hours — and able to be recoated in just an hour.  Since Command paint dries so quickly, it will need to be applied very carefully to avoid brush and roller marks. 


Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio

Formula: Urethane or Epoxy-Modified Acrylic

Finishes: High Gloss or Low Sheen

Dry time: 4 hours to recoat

Colors: 3,500+ 

Ideal Type of Paint for Walls and Stair Risers

Stairwell wall painted in Benjamin Moore Smoke 2122-40Stairwell wall painted in Benjamin Moore Smoke 2122-40

It’s easy to assume you can use the same interior paint in your stairwell as the other walls in your house, especially if your home improvement project includes painting multiple rooms around the same time. However, it is recommended to choose a paint product with added durability and resistance to damage when painting stairwell walls and risers. Stair risers and staircase walls are far more likely to come into contact with objects being carried, and are inevitably blemished from people and pets brushing against the surface on their way up and down the stairs.

Scuff-Resistant Wall Paint

Unlike normal interior paint, scuff-resistant wall paint is engineered to hold up in high-traffic spaces. Also used in mudrooms, playrooms, basements, and garages, this type of specialty acrylic paint guards against denting and scratching. And when it comes time to clean your wall or the stair risers, paint that has scuff-resistant qualities holds up to scrubbing without coming off.

Eggshell, Satin, or Pearl Finish

A few of the most popular sheens for stairwells are eggshell, satin, and pearl finishes. Unlike a flat or matte finish, these types of paints are stain-resistant and easy to wipe down. But the added shine isn’t as strong as a glossy finish, and can be used throughout your home with beautiful results.

Recommended Paint Product for Walls & Risers 

SCUFF-X by Benjamin Moore is an extremely durable, high-quality finish for high-traffic areas such as entryways and stairwells. Suitable for both commercial and residential use, SCUFF-X provides outstanding performance and protection from everyday wear and tear.


Benjamin Moore SCUFF-X

Formula: Acrylic

Finishes: Matte, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss

Dry time: 2-3 hours to recoat

Colors: 3,500+

Best Paint to Use on Stairway Railings

Staircase and railings painted in Benjamin Moore ADVANCE, Satin, Charcoal Slate HC-178Staircase and railings painted in Benjamin Moore ADVANCE, Satin, Charcoal Slate HC-178

The handrail and balusters of a staircase are also high-traffic surfaces, coming into frequent contact with oils and dirt from hands. The right paint for staircase railings will create a smooth, thick coating and retain its color for years to come.

Alkyd Interior Paint

For the best results, a staircase bannister and spindles should be painted with a good quality, water-based alkyd interior paint that you can trust to last. Alkyd paint products resemble oil-based paints in their smooth application and resistance to damage, but this kind of paint dries faster, is easier to clean, and has a lower VOC content.

Satin, Semi-Gloss, or High Gloss Finish

The best sheens for a staircase railing are satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss. These stain-resistant finishes are far easier to clean than a flat or matte finish, and they add a pleasing level of shine. A high-gloss finish is particularly popular for highlighting architectural details in your home.

Recommended Paint Product for Railings

Benjamin Moore ADVANCE is our paint pros' top choice for woodwork such as staircase railings. This water-based, alkyd paint replicates the smooth flow and durability of oil-based paints, but cleans up with soap and water. ADVANCE requires a long dry time, but this allows it to level to an extremely smooth finish.  


Benjamin Moore ADVANCE

Formula: Water-Based Alkyd

Finishes: Satin, Semi-Gloss, High-Gloss 

Dry Time: 16 hours to recoat

Colors: 3,500+

Shop Quality Stair Paint Products at Ring’s End

Enjoy the results of your DIY stairway makeover for years to come with premium interior paint products from Benjamin Moore. For convenient delivery to your home, order Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio, Benjamin Moore SCUFF-X, and Benjamin Moore ADVANCE online through Ring’s End. We’re confident you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for among Benjamin Moore’s 3,500 paint colors – it’s the most expansive selection on the market.

Stair Paint FAQs

How do you make sure painted stairs aren’t slippery?

Do you need special paint for stairs?

Do you need to prime stairs before painting?