Blog Painting Stairwell With Plank Board

Published on March 18th, 2013 | by Grant Barnard


How To Easily Paint A Stairwell – Ladder Setup

Painting Stairwell With Plank Board Please always take all precautions and do your homework before attempting to paint above stairs. This article it to show you how to do it a safer way than using a ladder that extends on both sides. For further review of approriate ladder pleas read our Ladder Choice article. This picture demonstrates how this is done. Always remember to use ladders that are rated to hold you, your tools and the plank that you are using. Using an aluminum plank that extends will of course make this easier. However you can also buy scaffolding rated plank boards that you can pick up at any lumber yard or big box store. Call Grants Painting, an Indianapolis Painter, to have this done for you professionally.

Grants Painting, 5508 Elmwood Avenue Suite #320, Indianapoolis, IN, 46203, United States (US) - Phone: (317) 800-4540 Email:

How To Set Up The Ladders On The Stairs

  • The extension ladder should be at an angle that is not close to straight up and down. You should feel more than comfortable climbing the ladder on its own.
  • Then place the step ladder at the top of the stairs being sure to set the plank on the step and not just the supports on the back side of the step ladder.
  • Place the plank on the the two corresponding steps that will allow you to easily reach the ceiling line. This may take an adjustment to which step the extension ladder is resting on. The plank should be level as it could slide out from underneath you if the plank is not level. Never try to use another step ladder from the plank. This is very dangerous and should never be attempted.

  • Tips For Painting The Stairwell

    • Start by cutting in the ceiling completely.
    • Do not try to roll out the wall from the plank.
    • The cut in should be large enough so you don’t hit the ceiling when rolling out the wall with an extension pole.
    • Remove the ladders and plank before attempting to roll the walls out. If you do the rolled out section will dry while you are removing ladders from the stairwell. This can create obvious roller starts and stops.
    • Always keep three points of contact. If you can set your paint can on something nearby and work in smaller areas this can be achieved and results in a much safer environment.

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    About the Author

    Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

    • Anonymous

      Dude awesome,thanks

      • Grant Barnard

        No Problem!

    • Ann S.

      Is there a type or a brand of ladder that you suggest?

      • Grant Barnard

        Both Werner and Keller make good ladders. We use both of them. The most important factor to worry about is the weight rating. Always be sure that your are WELL below that number. Half is a very good rule to go by. Also fiberglass ladders tend to be more stable and slide less but are also much harder to setup, especially indoors.

        Let us know if you have any more questions Ann

    • ben

      what would you charge to paint a stairwell that has 1 window with a small landing 1/2 way up the stairs to turn then go up the other way?

      • Grant Barnard

        Ben. That depends on many variables like if there is patching and how high the ceiling is and your expectations of the job. In your area with the eco requirements, license requirements, higher gas prices… You’d be doing good under a thousand USD. That would be for a high quality job from a reputable company.

    • Anonymous

      hi i have a exstendable stair ladder not sure how to set them up

      • Grant Barnard

        Usually its as simple as pushing in the pegs at the top to open the ladder. Then the pegs on the sides of the first rung pull out to extend one side or the other.

    • nick chirgwin

      what can i do if I have a window where the ladder is supposed to be resting?

      • Grant Barnard

        You can use a ladder stabilizer. Getting around windows is not its main purpose but it will work well if its a single window.

    • Barry

      What can the maximum width of the plank be between the two ladders?

      • Barry, I always use the biggest one possible that I can fit into the rungs of the ladder. Werner makes a good aluminum extendable platform that fits perfectly.

    • Max

      I had no idea to that before I see pictures. Thank you!

    • Tom

      How do you estimate how much paint is needed to paint a stairwell and stairs? The stairwell itself is 24′ x 3’6″. Does one simply use the same formula to determine painting the average room in a house (i.e. wall width + ceiling space x wall height?)

      • Well Tom, hopefully your using a different paint for the steps and not just the glossy version of the same paint. You’ll need to use porch and floor enamel. Id figure for two gallons of paint and another gallon of enamel for the steps

    • Mark

      I need to paint a stairwell wall, but the stairway does not have the overhang like the picture, there is a vertical wall approximately 4′ from the base of the stairs. I need to be able to reach the top of the wall to tape things off. It is approximately 18′ from the floor to the top of the wall. Any suggestions?

      • Mark. So As I understand… You have a foyer with a stairwell in it. There are ways to do this but I feel that I would be greatly irresponsible in advising these ways without proper ladder training and experience. Besides your tools that you would need would be more expensive than hiring a painter to do the work for you. So, I can only suggest for you to not do it yourself and keep your health instead of your money. Sorry.

    • Philip B

      The ladder at the top of the stair case does it need to be 6′ or 8′ foot if a 4′ works for hight wise. Can the board be rested on the top of a 4′ ladder and clamped or does it need to be clamped to 8′ ladder in the middle of it? Thank you for response just want to be safe and thank you for info on initial setup for stair well ladder setup.

    • Neal

      Thank you so much, this is a big help.

    • Pingback: The Dangerous DIY: How to Paint Your Stairwell Without Killing Yourself - The Modern Nester()

    • Jaxon12345

      Thanks for the article and cartoon of the ladder/plank set up.

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