BEFORE & AFTER: DIY Painted Stairs Makeover

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A couple years ago I saw a DIY painted stairs makeover that I bookmarked in a tiny space in the back of my mind and thought, “Whenever I get a free moment, I’m going to do my DIY painted stairs makeover the exact same way:  with IKEA rugs and upholstery tacks!

Since this wasn’t my idea, I don’t get the Creative Genius of the Year Award. 🙂

But, since this is the second project I’ve done and posted in a week, I will take the Kicking Butt Award for productivity, thank you very much! LOL

Here’s what my stairs looked like just 24 hours ago.


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And by the end of the day, this is what it looked like.



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(I’m not going to lie: I retouched the walls in iPhoto because they’re icky with “kid gunk” and I haven’t gotten around to painting the walls over yet).

Anyhow, my blogger friends and I do a monthly Power Tools Challenge and this month’s theme was Home Improvement.

It was the perfect challenge to knock this project off of my “Gotta-Get-Rid-of-the-Ugly” list.

It’s amazing how you walk by something every day but never notice how bad of condition it’s in!

These pictures are eye-opening!


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If you’ve got stairs like this and you want to do a DIY painted stairs makeover with inexpensive rugs, it can be done!

Materials Needs for a DIY Painted Stairs Makeover With Cheap IKEA Rugs

The “Oh-N0-Did-I-Make-a-Mistake?!” Fear

I have another confession: I waited until the last minute to get this project done in time for the monthly challenge because I had spent all my time working on my repurposed kitchen cart project earlier this week.

As a result, I was rushed, rushed, rushed, and decided to just skip any kind of sanding and just wing it with the left-over semi-gloss paint/primer.


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I took to my Facebook page and asked for prayers. LOL

I was so nervous I would come back a few hours later with paint peeling everywhere.

Thankfully, it didn’t happen (although that’s no guarantee since I haven’t yet unleashed my 3 little boys onto the stairs yet….).


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I slathered on two coats and skipped the middle section just to save time and paint.

Who’s going to see it, anyhow, right?? (notice the dirty walls, though?? UGH).


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The IKEA Rug Debacle

So…..about a year ago (yes…that long ago!), I bought these little IKEA rugs for a few bucks each, thinking I’d use these for my DIY painted stairs makeover.

I loved the stripes, and the blue was awesome.


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Only……after I laid them down on the stairs, it was like a landing strip: NARROW!

That wasn’t going to work.

I needed a Plan B.


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I tried to get creative and turn them sideways, but no, no….that looked funny, I think.

It’s like trying to wear a horizontal striped shirt: it just doesn’t do anything for your shape.

Well, these rugs weren’t doing anything for my stairs, either. LOL

Not in that direction.

I definitely needed a Plan C.


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Figuring Out Plan C

Plan C involved hopping into my van and heading to IKEA 30 minutes before they closed, hoping to get more of those blue striped  rugs, so I could “make it work” as Tim Gunn would have told me.

You know…maybe stack them in such a way to make them wider.

I don’t know…

But when I got to IKEA–surprise!!–they no longer have my rug in stock. When have you ever heard of IKEA no longer carrying an item??

Then I saw these: TANUM rugs for $14.99.

They were not my style, but I was impressed that they were handwoven.

Totally uninspiring in style, though, but affordable and just the perfect size. Sometimes, money rules, not likes and dislikes. LOL


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So for $47, I could get three of them and that would be a sweet deal!

I decided to be adventurous and said, “Meh, let’s try them.”


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The optimist in me decided that there were sooooo many colors in the TANUM rug that I could match with colorful picture frames on the wall above the stairs. So yes, this was a good choice. I hoped. LOL

I just had to see the potential. LOL


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I pulled out my RYOBI AirStrike 16-gauge nailer, which I planned to use to nail the rug in place under the tread.



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But first, I had to add the rug pad.

I laid that down first and used carpet tacks to help it stay in place along the edges. I just used a hammer for this part.


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I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right or not. I have never laid any kind of carpet, so I was pulling stuff out of my you-know-where to make this work. LOL

My main concern was to make sure no sharp tacks or nails were left poking out so we don’t cut our toes!


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Then I laid the rug down over the carpet pad and used my nailer and drove nails along the underside of the treads.


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I really wasn’t sure it would work since it’s a woven rug. But thankfully, it worked!

It wasn’t perfect because they are woven rugs. I was hoping since 16-gauge nails are thicker they’d hold up well. We’ll see how it does over time.

The upholstery tacks were perfect for keeping the rug in place, too.

I placed most of them along the tread, but a few of them I added to the risers.


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I added probably about 10 or more nails along the tread underneath with my nailer, too.

And since I used 3 rugs, when one rug would “run out,” I would start the other rug right underneath of the tread where the riser started.


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Since it’s a lot of patterns and colors, it’s not even noticeable. Score!



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Oops! Looks like I may have missed a tack. 😉


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My DIY artwork still makes me smile when I see it every day going into the basement. It’s true. An artist does live here. 🙂


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And although this wasn’t my first choice of IKEA rugs for this project, I’m super glad it was affordable and still makes my basement stairs look like an improvement!


DIY painted stairs BEFORE - Thrift Diving

Cost Breakdown

IKEA Rugs – $47

Paint – Already had

Rug pad – $27

Upholstery tacks – Already had

Carpet Tacks – $3

Caulk for the cracks – Already had

Nails for RYOBI nailer – Already had
TOTAL COST: About $77

Not too shabby, right?!

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So what do you think!? 🙂

I actually really do like it!

We still need to get a rail….and to repaint the walls to freshen them up a bit. But overall, I love the way the basement is coming together!

Have you guys ever done a stair makeover? What did you use, and how much did it cost?

Let’s chat about it in the comments section!

And before you go, be sure to check out the other cool projects from my blogger friends!

Home Improvement Projects

Power Tool Challenge

DIY Shutters Create And Babble

DIY Fireplace Mantel Shelf Her Tool Belt

Industrial Paper Towel Holder by Virginia Sweet Pea

Blanket Ladder by Refresh Restyle

Cedar Hose Planter by Kim Six Fix

DIY Vanity Sliding Drawer by Interior Frugalista

How To Patch A Hole In Drywall by Designs By Studio C

Wall Mount Staghorn Fern by A Piece Of Rainbow

DIY Painted Stairs Makeover by Thrift Diving

DIY Modern Rustic Mirror by H2OBungalow



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  1. I love it! The paint and the colorful carpet makes the stairs look so much brighter. Thanks for sharing your DIY journey on Merry Monday.

  2. carol clark says:

    that is so stunning the color made a drastic change love it

  3. Krista Beck says:

    I painted my stairs about a year and half ago, and would LOVE to add this! My problem is my bottom three steps are larger than the rest and are curved. How would you do this with the curved stairs?

    1. Hey there, Krista! Great question! I think you’d have to fold the fabric a little, if possible, and maybe sew/stitch it so it doesn’t come undone. Do you have a picture of your stairs? I could take a look and see if I have any advice! Email me a pic to [email protected]! Thanks! 🙂

  4. These turned out amazing! I can’t believe you did all of that and went to IKEA is a 24 hour span. Sometimes it feels like every trip to IKEA is a 24 hour trip. But at the end these stairs look incredible. I’d love to see an update as to how the paint works out with some wear and tear without the sanding!

    1. Hi, Charlene! Yeah, it was an insane project in just a short amount of time! Silly me for waiting until the last minute! 🙂

      The stairs are holding up well! I haven’t seen any scratches yes! Then again, no one is walking on that part of the stairs. I thought for sure the kids would have stepped all over that part and messed it up, but they haven’t. A couple of the furniture tacks have come out (yes, because of the kids and they way they walk–no, DRAG–themselves down the stairs, but those are easy to replace. Overall, it’s still holding up! 🙂 Thanks for checking out my project!

  5. I like it! I have painted stairs going up to my second floor. We painted them and put a runner down them years ago. Unfortunately I got a puppy 1 1/2 years ago and she decided she liked snacking on the runner so right now I have a giant bite taken out of the side of the runner on the first step. Now I know I have options when I get time to redo the steps!

    1. I thought for sure my kids would be chewing on it by now, but they haven’t been. HA!! 🙂 Just kidding! But I really did think they’d be fiddling with the rug, and thankfully, they haven’t even noticed the difference! Pets are a whole different story! Did your puppy scratch up the paint with its claws, by any chance? I always wonder if painted stairs holds up to pets!

      1. Hmm, my answer is- I don’t know. It seems to hold up, but truthfully the pups are primarily traveling on the runner.

  6. jennie guthrie-stevens says:


    nice idea but not sure the tacks will hold the rugs in place and really for safety’s sake stair rods across each stair would a cheap and safer option.


    1. Hi, Jennie! I know, I’m crossing my fingers! LOL. So far, so good, but time will only tell. I hope stair rods aren’t too expensive! 🙂 Thanks for passing that info along to me!

  7. Patricia B says:

    Hey Serena, we did redo our basement stairs, many years ago! The cost = $0.00…. I worked next to a office remodeling company, I got rolls of carpet out of their dumpster, my brother had a staple gun and put pieces of the carpet down my hallway and on the basement stairs. I love your idea, unfortunately with cats your rugs would be shredded!! lol Love ya’

    1. Wow, that was a lucky find for you! Did it hold up well?

      Thankfully, we have no cats! But I have kids. I don’t think there’s any difference…. HAHAHA!

      1. Patricia B says:

        The carpet is just like the day we installed it. It was made for a high traffic office. Even the cats, with all the scratching, haven’t put a dent in it! lol

  8. Only you could stay up all night working on a project and have it turn out so well! It looks wonderful! I need to redo my daughter’s staircase – I didn’t use padding underneath the rug: not good!

    1. Thanks, Jeanie! Has your daughter’s rug held up well over time? I’ll have to go back to your post and see how you installed yours. I’m loving mine, and the padding is a nice touch! I had to cut out pieces to get it to work!

  9. Your hard work paid off, the end result of this project is amazing! I’ll bet your family was so excited when they saw the stairs when they woke up the other morning. I’m also impressed that you could stay up 24 hours to finish a project.

    1. Paula, you know….I judge a project’s success by what my husband has to say about it. LOL. He’s not a very expressive person when it comes to my projects, but any “Yeah, it looks nice” from him means, “Hot diggity dog, I did a good job!” HAHA :). Thanks for the comment!

  10. Good for you for compromising and still making it work. It looks great, Serena. I’m thinking, too, that all that pattern will hide the typical wear and tear on stairs so bonus! Is your back killing you from scrunching in that unnatural position all day? Mine would be screaming at me by now.

    I hope the treads hold up well, and I hope *you* have a nice, hot bubble bath in your future.

    Power tool Goddess. You need to make another sign.

    1. LOL, I might just have to make that sign for my garage-turned-workshop, Alys!! “Power Tool Goddess.” LOVE THAT!! 🙂 Actually, I wasn’t sore at all! I think the project took about 6 hours today, but with writing up the post, too, that put me right at the 24 hour mark. I hope to never do that again! Late nights are hard on the body, and if you can believe it, I’m all about getting SLEEP now! Can we just say “TOTAL 180” (or is it 360?) on my thoughts about sufficient sleep now! LOL 🙂

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