7 Paint Colors That Will Brighten Up Your Staircase

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

Few things dress up a lackluster staircase faster than a fresh coat of paint. This is often a necessary upgrade, when you consider where your stairway is typically placed. It's a structural centerpiece, since it's usually the first part of your home guests see upon their arrival.

Even if your staircase isn't the first thing you see when you get home, it can still set the tone for the rest of the house, says 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," says Xaykao. Plus, painting your staircase is an easy update that makes for a complete transformation, adds Kristina Phillips of Kristina Phillips Interior Design. "Applying a classic, high gloss black will instantly elevate any staircase," she says.

Modern interior of house, hall, living room

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, notes Sue Wadden, the director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "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," she says. "If you're painting the steps as well as the risers, consider an anti-slip additive for the paint to improve traction."

When you have the formula down, move onto the shade—and that's where we come in. We're sharing all of the expert-approved paint colors you can try on your own staircase.

SW 7005 Pure White
Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

Classic White

For a crisp, clean stairway that will work with an assortment of décor styles and stand the test of time, choose a pure white paint. "Pure White SW 7005 is the perfect color if you're going for a classic painted look," Wadden says. "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."

Visualize your staircase with a "less is more" hue, says Nadia Watts of Nadia Watts Interior Design. "When you are selecting paint colors for your stairs, you have to keep in mind that the stairs are part of the architecture of the home," she says. "They need to be a part of the floor, so you don't want to feel as if you are floating away when you are on them!"

To connect your stairway to the rest of the space, use the room's trim color on the rise of the stairs. Her go-to option? Benjamin Moore's White Dove. "The treads are meant to blend in with the flooring that meets the staircase. I will pick a paint color similar to the color for flooring," says Watts. "If wood, I will use the same wood stain."

Courtesy of Behr


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."

SW 9035 Frosted Emerald
Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

Emerald Green

If you're looking for a staircase paint color that makes a statement, go 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," Wadden says. "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."

Kendall Charcoal HC-166
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

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."

Ocean Air 2123-50
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Light Blue

Infuse some personality and color into a narrow or cramped set of stairs by painting them 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," Xaykao says. "A light blue, like Ocean Air 2123-50, will make a cramped stairway seem larger while supplying a subtle pop of color."

Black 2132-10
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore


If you want to make a statement in your home, make it with your staircase, notes Amy Kartheiser, an interior designer. She likes to "go big, or go home," with Benjamin Moore's Black 2132-10. "Nothing grabs the eye more than a bold, deeply contrasted staircase," she says. "For that reason, I love anchoring a room in an all-black staircase—including the balusters, handrails, and newels."

Treron No. 292
Courtesy of Farrow&Ball

Muted Gray-Green

Enlist Farrow and Ball's Treron for your staircase, as the muted color is the "quintessential dark gray-green," according to Kartheiser. "Hear my monochromatic dreams out: If I had a designated entry with a staircase, I would drench the entire space (including the moldings—dare I say with a lacquered finish?) and the staircase in this gorgeous hue, creating a rich entrance for anyone who walks through the door," she says.

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