Ready to give those boring steps a dreamy DIY staircase makeover? These DIY stair remodel ideas will update and modernize your stairs on a budget.
You’ll also want to read up on our Beginner’s Guide to Installing Trim and How DIY Plywood Flooring Could Save You Thousands.
Stairs are such an effective way to get to an upper or lower level, but often they are just so blah.
If you’re dreaming of a new look for your stairs or banister, we’ve got our very favorite staircase makeover DIY ideas for you today. See all of our stair projects here.
Beautiful DIY Staircase Makeovers
A stair remodel is a great way to make a big impact on your home decorating! Whether you are giving the stair risers some character, removing carpet to change to hardwood stair treads, or giving the basement stairs a glow-up, we’ve got the ideas and tutorials for you to make it happen on a DIY budget!
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Entry Staircase Total Makeover
Justin and I (er… mostly Justin) completely redid our entryway staircase. We started with basic stairs and a rough plan. Then I pulled up the old carpet while Justin was at work… And from there, removed the railing (to reuse later), widened the bottom steps, filled in the stringer gaps and painted, then refinished the stair treads and landing, added new risers, and built custom newel posts. Phew!
It was a lot of work, but worth it. The changes to the entry and the stairs made such a huge difference and was one of the things people loved about the house when we sold it. See the reveal here and the step by step process here.
DIY Stair Banister Renovation
One of the best ways to update your staircase is to change the look of the banister. This tutorial shows you how to keep the existing newel post and handrail while replacing the spindles and wrapping the newel post for a whole new look!
Under $100 Staircase Makeover
See how Cleverly Inspired transformed her staircase from carpet to beautiful wooden treads for under $100. Tracy takes you through a detailed step-by-step staircase makeover, including how to remove the carpet and paint the stair treads, risers, and runners.
Carpet To Ebony-Stained Wood DIY Stair Remodel
SAS Interiors transformed her carpeted stairs to wood! Jenna carefully removed the carpet from her stairs while keeping the carpet transition for the top of the stairs. After sanding, she stained and poly-ed the stair treads and painted the risers and runners — and be sure to check out her creative solution to the gap left when she removed the carpet!
Make Your Stairs Safer for Kids
A baby gate is a great way to keep kids and pets safe and contained in designated areas of your home.
Painted DIY Staircase Makeover
Jennifer was sick of the yucky old carpet on her stairs and didn’t want to spend $2000 on new carpet that wouldn’t hold up to young kids and dogs. Instead, she spent 1/4 of that cost and replaced all the stair treads and landing with wood planks. Then she sanded and painted with durable paint and loves the results! If you’re dreaming of painting up those stairs, see how Classic Style Home redid hers here.
Black and White Painted Staircase Makeover
Black and white is always classic and in-style! Abby gave her dark paneled wood staircase a beautiful modern makeover with just some paint (and sanding) for a total of about $80. See how to paint your stairs and banister with Chapter37.
Oak Handrail To White And Walnut
Golden oak stair banisters and railings are common in older homes. So what to do when you’re sick of the oak but don’t want to pay big bucks for a brand new modern stair rail? Paint and gel stain it for a stunning new look like this!
DIY Stair Remodel to Fix Uneven Stair Steps
An aesthetic makeover looks good, but sometimes old stairs need some functional help too. Like many basement stairs in older homes, ours were uneven and in sad shape when we ripped out the old carpet during our basement remodel. See how we fixed the uneven steps on the staircase here and how the stairs look now with new carpet.
Creating An Open Staircase
When you’re modernizing an older home, sometimes a wall needs to come down! (Safely, of course). The Henrys updated their living room and staircase both when they took out a wall (yeah!) to open up their staircase.
Fun Stair Idea: Install a Stair Slide
An indoor play area can be as simple as adding a stair slide!
$60 Staircase Remodel with New Wood Treads
Sometimes DIYers are fortunate to find solid wood stair treads under carpet. Some find particle board or unsalvageable wood instead. But replacing treads in a DIY stair remodel doesn’t have to be expensive — Stacy went from carpet to new wood treads for $60 on her split level stairs.
DIY Staircase Makeover with Painted Stair Runner
For an inexpensive update, just add paint! You can get the high-end look of a runner without actually installing carpet. After she removed carpet… and the linoleum underneath, Anna painted a stair runner (and a faux stair skirt) on her basement staircase makeover!
Colorful Fabric Stair Risers
Sage had beautiful wood stairs to start, and wanted to add some some color, texture, and style to your staircase – so she used fabric to wallpaper the stair risers!
Carpeted To Stained Wood Stair Treads
It’s like rags to riches… carpet to beautiful wood staircase makeovers are a beautiful story! See how Handy Man Crafty Woman redid their carpeted stairs to beautiful stained wood.
Brand New Stair Banister Remodel
If your home’s stair banister is old and unsafe, replace it! See how The Hillside Home’s new banister looks.
Curved Stair Banister Remodel
Curved stairs are a beautiful statement in a home. Morgan and Jamie gave this dated curved staircase the makeover it deserved in this DIY stair renovation.
Oak To Dark Wood Stair Railing
Gel stain is a great option for changing the wood tones of your stair railing! Get rid of the oak stair banister by staining it like Jenn did.
Gel Stain Stair Banister Makeover
Gel stain is great for staining wood that would be hard to sand and refinish, and costly to replace. It’s also a great option for unifying mismatched wood tones — or even wood tones and painted surfaces! See how Delia redid her previously painted oak stair banister.
DIY Staircase Makeover Common Questions
What is the cheapest way to renovate stairs?
Painted stairs are the cheapest and easiest way to give your staircase a makeover, on a budget and with limited tools and skills. With some energy put into the prep work, any homeowner or beginning DIYer can paint or gel stain your stairs to look amazing.
Preparation is key to any painting project, so don’t skip out or you’ll be able to see any imperfections under your new coat of paint.
Read the separate tutorials above for more details about each of these steps, too.
How To Paint Stairs, Step by Step
- Remove the carpet (or laminate flooring or linoleum) and carefully remove all the tack strips, nails, staples, etc.
- If you have particle board / OSB instead of a solid wood surface, you can use a pry bar to remove those treads and replace with solid wood treads. Or you can paint the particle board treads. Particle board isn't as durable as hardwood, but for an inexpensive stair makeover or a stop-gap DIY while you save up for a larger renovation, paint is a great solution!
- Sand the wooden stair structure — risers, treads, skirts — with 60 grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots or adhesive. Be careful if you needsanding particle board, as it will break and chip easily.
- Fix imperfections and gaps. Use wood filler to fill any nail holes and caulk the seams. This is also a good time to practice caulking like a pro! Make those seams and small gaps disappear.
- You may need to install small trim (using a brad nailer) to fill larger gaps between the stair tread and riser, or even create your own stair skirt/stringer blocking like we did to create a nice looking stair.
- Next, prime any area you're going to paint. Even if you are using a paint with primer built in, a coat of regular primer will save you money on the more expensive paint and give you a better, more durable finish.
- Gel stain is next. If you are using gel stain to update the treads or banister, we recommend gel staining before you paint. Read here all about how to gel stain wood or painted stair railing.
- Then you're ready to paint! You can use satin or semi-gloss paint for the risers and skirt, but we'd suggest a durable porch/floor paint for the stair treads. Be sure to read the instructions on the can for how to prep and how long the paint needs to cure.
How do you update an old staircase to look modern?
A staircase is a large feature of your home, so modernizing your staircase is a great step in updating your home’s style. Here are some DIY ideas to update an old staircase and make stairs look modern:
- Remove old carpet and paint/stain — see above for details and tutorials.
- Add a modern stair runner rug (or paint one).
- Replace dated balusters with modern square or round balusters, either wood or metal. If you have the budget, a custom wood or steel railing looks amazing!
- Add beadboard, fabric, wallpaper, peel and stick tile, or vinyl decals to the stair risers to fit your style.
How can I dress up my stairs to look nice?
In addition to our ideas above for painting and updating the stairs themselves and the railing, you can make your stairs look good by updating the rest of the staircase area, too.
- Add wainscoting or creative trim panels to the stair wall for interest. This is especially good for tall stair walls that are hard to decorate.
- Install lighting, either along the stair treads or skirt or along the staircase for ambiance. For a renter-friendly stair update, use battery powered lanterns or candles on the stairs.
- Hang artwork along the stairs. This wall can be awkward, but it’s a good space for a gallery wall! Use our trick here to hang a gallery wall quickly.
For more DIY stair ideas, check out these:
- Beautiful Stair Inspiration and Ideas
- DIY Stair Slide (How To Add a Slide to Your Stairs)
- Creating a Mudroom Under the Stairs
- Renovating for an Inviting Entryway
- 25+ Entry and Staircase Design Inspirations
Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.