From classic white to sky blue and beyond, our experts share their favorite hues for steps and risers.

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Few things dress up a lackluster staircase faster than a fresh coat of paint—a necessary upgrade, when you consider where it is typically placed. "The staircase is often the first thing you see when you walk into a house, so it can set the tone for the rest of the home," explains Nivara Xaykao, a Color Marketing and Development expert at Benjamin Moore. "The right paint colors can also help play up the architecture of the stairs."

Credit: Bryan Gardner

However, with all the beautiful paint colors available on the market, picking the best one for your unique staircase can be a challenge. You should start by selecting the proper formula. "It's important to use flooring-grade paint or else it won't hold up to the wear and tear we put our staircases through," says Sue Wadden, the Director of Color Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "If you're painting the steps as well as the risers, consider an anti-slip additive for the paint to improve traction." Ahead, expert-approved paint colors to try on your own staircase.

Classic White

For a crisp, clean stairway that will work with an assortment of décor styles and stand the test of time, Wadden suggests choosing a pure white paint for your staircase. "Pure White SW 7005 is the perfect color if you're going for a classic painted look," she explains. "It can help hide imperfections in wood and lets other elements of your home shine by brightening up a space that can tend to be dark."


The right paint color combination can make a big impact on a staircase. "You can paint the risers and the treads the same color, or even use different colors to create contrast," says Erika Woelfel, the Vice President of Color and Creative Services at Behr. "Consider using Polar Bear (75) on the risers and Intellectual (PPU18-19) on the tread. If you want to get a bit more creative, paint a design to mimic the look of a runner going down the center."

Emerald Green

If you're looking for a staircase paint color that makes a statement, Wadden recommends green. "Although I love a traditional wood staircase, paint is a great solution if your stairs aren't in the best condition or if you want to create a dramatic focal point," she explains. "For something unexpected, paint a graphic design on your stairs. The color wheel is your oyster here, but a lush green like Frosted Emerald SW 9035 infuses life into any space."

Dark Gray

To create a moody, yet sophisticated stairway display, Xaykao suggests painting your stairs in a shade of deep gray. "Many people like to display photographs and artwork along the staircase, so you can approach it like you would an accent wall," she explains. "A rich off-black, like Kendall Charcoal HC-166, provides a dash of drama but is also neutral enough to look good with almost anything."

Light Blue

To infuse some personality and color into a cramped stairway, Xaykao recommends painting your staircase a light and airy shade of pale blue. "Since stairways are often enclosed and don't get much light, try an energizing paint color that helps open up the space," she explains.  "A light blue, like Ocean Air 2123-50, will make a cramped stairway seem larger while supplying a subtle pop of color."


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