How to Remove Paint from Stair Treads

How to Remove Paint from Stair Treads

Learn how to remove paint from stair treads. Find out the best products and techniques for stripping, sanding, and staining your staircase to enhance your home.
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For homeowners passionate about both the aesthetics and functionality of their living spaces, updating a staircase can be both a necessary and a transformative DIY project. If your stair treads are coated in layers of old paint, removing it is the first step towards revitalizing the heart of your home. After removing paint, try installing carpet stair treads, for a luxurious upgrade to your staircase. Let’s dive into how you can strip away the old to make room for a new chapter of style and comfort.

How to remove paint from stair treads:

  1. apply paint remover

  2. let it sit

  3. scrape off paint

  4. clean it up 

What is the Best Paint Remover for Wood Stairs?   

Choosing the right paint remover is crucial for effectively cleaning up your wooden stairs without damaging the material. A chemical paint stripper that is specifically formulated for wood is typically the best option. Products like Citristrip or Dumond Smart Strip are popular choices because they are less toxic and can safely remove multiple layers of paint.

Step-by-Step Process:   

  1. Apply the Paint Remover: Generously apply the paint remover over the painted treads using a paintbrush. Make sure to cover all areas thoroughly.

  2. Let It Sit: Allow the remover to sit according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually between 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the product and the amount of paint layers.

  3. Scrape Off Paint: Once the paint softens, use a plastic scraper to peel away the paint. Be gentle to avoid scratching the wood underneath.

  4. Clean Up: After scraping, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth to remove any remaining paint remover residue.

How Do You Strip and Stain Stair Treads?   

Stripping the paint is only half the battle. If you’re looking to restore the natural beauty of wooden stair treads, staining them is an excellent next step.

  1. Sand the Surface: After stripping, sanding the treads ensures a smooth surface that’s ideal for staining. Use a medium-grit sandpaper and gradually work towards finer grit to achieve a smooth finish.

  2. Choose Your Stain: Select a wood stain that complements the overall design of your home. Testing the stain on a small, inconspicuous area can help you decide if it’s the right shade.

  3. Apply the Stain: Using a brush or a rag, apply the stain evenly along the grain of the wood. Apply multiple coats if necessary, allowing adequate drying time between applications.

  4. Seal the Wood: Once the stain has dried, apply a clear polyurethane sealer to protect the wood and give your stairs a polished look.

How Do You Sand Painted Stair Treads?   

Sanding is an effective method for removing the last bits of paint and prepping the surface for a new finish.

  1. Safety First: Wear a mask and safety goggles to protect yourself from dust and particles.

  2. Using the Right Tools: An orbital sander with medium to fine-grit sandpaper works best for removing paint and smoothing out the surface.

  3. Even Sanding: Move the sander evenly across the tread to avoid gouges and uneven surfaces. Finish with a fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth texture.

What if My Paint Won't Come Off?  

If your paint won't come off, after trying the suggestions listed in this article, it may be time to remove your old stair treads completely, and replace them. Or consult with proffessional help.


Revamping your stair treads by removing old paint and applying a new finish can dramatically change the ambiance of your home. This project not only enhances the beauty and value of your house but also ensures a safe and stylish environment for your family to create lasting memories. By following these detailed steps, you’re well on your way to a staircase that epitomizes luxury, comfort, and style.