Do I Need To Prime Already Painted Stairs?

You may have heard that priming your stairs is a good idea, but you’re unsure if it’s worth the effort. After all, you’ve already painted them once, and they look fine to you.

But before we can answer that question, let’s take a closer look at why priming is so necessary in general–and what makes it especially tricky when dealing with already-painted surfaces like staircases.

painting already painted stairs

Priming is one of the most important steps in painting because it provides a base for your new paint job to adhere to and protects against moisture damage over time (which can cause peeling).

In addition to protecting from moisture damage, primers also help keep colors vibrant by preventing fading caused by UV rays from sunlight exposure over time.

This means that even if you don’t plan on repainting anytime soon–or ever!–it’s still worth taking care of during this crucial preparation stage!

Why Priming is Necessary

Priming is necessary because it creates a better bond between the paint and the surface. This means you won’t have to worry about peeling or chipping off your paint job, which can happen when using a good primer.
Priming also helps with adhesion issues, especially if you’re changing paint types or stain-blocking. If your stairs are made from wood, then priming will ensure that your new coat of paint sticks well to them without peeling off later on down the line.
Additionally, priming can help create an even finish for those who want their stairway to look professional and smooth.

When You Can Skip Priming

You can skip priming if:

  • You’re painting over an existing layer of latex paint or a similar water-based paint. This means the existing surface is in good condition and will hold up to another coat of paint without chipping or peeling.
  • The stairs are made from concrete, stone, or other nonporous materials that don’t absorb moisture (and therefore won’t rust). If you’re unsure whether your stairs are made from these materials, check with a professional before proceeding without priming!
  • Bare wood stairs should always be primed first.
priming bare wood stairs

Problems and Solutions

Painting already-painted stairs can be a challenge. The paint is old, and, likely, the previous owner didn’t prime the wood before putting on their first coat of paint. This means that you’ll be dealing with some issues when you try to paint your own stairwells.
Here are some common problems you may encounter:

  • The color doesn’t match. This is because of fading or discoloration over time, which means that the wood has become darker than what you’re trying to match up with today’s standards of color palettes and styles. To fix this problem, repaint all areas with no original stain or finish left behind (i.e., any bare spots). You can use an oil-based primer when painting over existing latex paints; however, if there are only stains left behind from oil-based paints, then use an acrylic latex primer instead!

Related: Best Oil-Based Primers For Wood And More

Product Recommendations

  • We recommend the following products:
  • A high-quality primer that will adhere to your stairs, such as Zinsser Coverstain. This product is easy to apply and dries quickly. It provides a durable base coat for any paint or stains you choose to use on top of it.
  • Try Rust-Oleum Zinsser 1-2-3 Premium Dry Cover Flat Interior/Exterior Primer Sealer (gray) if you want something more economical. This primer has good coverage and adhesion properties but doesn’t offer as much protection from moisture damage over time as the Zinnser option above.

Tips for Priming and Painting Stairs

When you’re priming and painting stairs, it’s important to remember that the surface should be adequately prepared. You’ll also want to use the right tools and techniques, allow adequate drying time, and choose durable slip-resistant paint.

  • Properly prepare your surface by sanding away any loose or flaking paint with an electric sander before priming. This will ensure that your new coat of paint adheres appropriately without peeling off later on.
  • Use an oil-based primer for hardwood stairs so it won’t cause discoloration over time, as water-based paints would do!


  • Don’t be afraid to prime your stairs.
  • You can use the same products and techniques as you would for any other surface in your home, but it’s essential to choose the suitable primer for the job.
  • If you’re unsure of what product is best, check out the recommendations in this post, Best Paint For Basement Stairs That Last.

Now that you know the basics of priming and painting stairs, it’s time to start! If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below, and I’ll answer them quickly.

Leave a Comment