Affordable DIY Staircase Makeover Ideas That Look Like a Million Bucks

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.

inviting entryway wood staircase makeover by CDG
stair renovation by Cobblestone Development Group

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.

See more unique ideas for updating stairs.

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 and Total Staircase Makeover by Remodelaholic
entry and total staircase makeover by Remodelaholic

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 with the existing newel post and banister by TDA Decorating and Design

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!

 How To Update Your Staircase For Less Than $100, Carpet To Wooden, By Cleverly Inspired, Featured On @Remodelaholic
under $100 carpet to wood staircase makeover by Cleverly Inspired

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.

stair remodel, SAS Interiors on Remodelaholic
carpet to stained wood DIY stair remodel by SAS Interiors

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.

Build this pretty barn door baby gate (or the full-height Dutch door) with our detailed woodworking plans.

painted DIY staircase makeover with new wood plank stair treads and landing
painted DIY stair remodel by Classic Style 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.

painted banister and staircase makeover
painted staircase makeover by Chapter37

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.

updated oak stair banister by Craftyland

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!

Basement Remodel, Fix Uneven Stairs By Raising Steps, Remodelaholic
how to raise basement stair treads by Remodelaholic

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.

how to open up a staircase makeover DIY stair remodel
removing a wall from the staircase by The Henry Family Adventures

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!

split entry staircase remodel from carpet to new wood treads on a $60 budget
split entry staircase remodel by The Serene Swede

$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.

old carpet and lineolum staircase makeover with painted stairs and runner and faux stair skirt
painted stair runner by Take the Side Street

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!

See more of these painted stairs

DIY staircase makeover with fabric wallpaper stair treads to add color
DIY fabric wallpaper stair riser decal by Plaster and Disaster

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!

Carpet To Wood Staircase Remodel Featured On Remodelaholic
carpet to wood DIY staircase remodel with new railing by Handy Man Crafty Woman

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.

Replace Stair Railing And Banister Featured On Remodelaholic
replaced stair banister by The Hillside Home

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.

how to replace a stair banister on a curved staircase makeover remodel
curved stair banister replacement and makeover by Construction2Style

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.

Updated Stair Banister With Gel Stain Featured On Remodelaholic
oak to dark stain handrail by Jenn’s Corner of Heaven

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.

DIY staircase makeover with gel stain on a dated old oak banister
gel stain stair banister makeover by Semi-Domesticated Mama

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 Stair Remodel And Stair Makeover Remodelaholic Before And After
staircase makeover and renovation by Remodelaholic

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

Painted stairs are the cheapest and easiest way to DIY a staircase 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.
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  • 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.
    Diy Stair Remodel Stringer Skirt Replacement To Fill Gap, Remodelaholic
  • 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.
  • Add protection. Some DIYers choose to add a coat of polyurethane on top of the paint for added durability. A stair runner will also help reduce wear on the painted stairs, as well as making foot traffic on the stairs quieter.


As with ALL of our DIY projects and tutorials, be certain to read over the complete tutorial before starting a project. Build at your own risk and be smart, be safe. We will not be responsible for any injury or damage incurred while following a tutorial from our site. None of our posts should be considered expert advice; please consult a professional when needed, read all safety and instruction manuals, and take all safety precautions. All projects performed following instructions found on this site are done at your own risk. 
Modern Farmhouse White And Wood Staircase Remodelaholic SL18H05
modern farmhouse white and wood staircase with plank shiplap wall

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:

Modern Stairs With Patterned Tile Risers Remodelaholic UV21H13
black and white patterned tile stair risers with wood stairs

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.

Creative Stair Railing And Wainscoting Panel Wall Along Stairs Remodelaholic UV18H15
modern diagonal baluster staircase railing with paneled stair wall
  • 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.
Modern Wood And Black Staircase With Chandelier Remodelaholic UV17H10
modern wood and black metal stair railing

For more DIY stair ideas, check out these:


DIY Stair Makeover And DIY Stair Remodel Ideas, Remodelaholic
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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.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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