Should I Paint Existing Riser White Or Cover It? - Painting - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 09-10-2010, 10:53 PM   #1
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Should I paint existing riser white or cover it?

I recently got someone refinished the stairs, however, all contractors said that they only do the steps but not the risers and stringers. I didn't know why until I searched internet, I realized that mostly the risers are veneer and can't be treated like real wood.

I have talked to some pros who suggested that I lightly sand the surface, apply a good primer, then paint them white. I just don't know how good it's going to look like. Would it be as solid as the general white door?

On the other hand, is there material/veneer that can be used to cover old risers? I want the existing light brown risers and stringers in white. Any suggestion are welcome! Thanks


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Old 09-11-2010, 08:27 AM   #2
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Would suggest painting them as you have been told.

I would recommend as you have been to to lightly nsand them, then apply a water based primer/ sealer over them, once this is done again lightly sand to remove any runs that may come up and any obvious brush marks.
Once the prep is done you can paint them with enamel paint, apply two or three coats very thinly rather than one thick coat as it will run if you put too much enamel paint on (an example of this is painting one side of a door, I use a very thin coated roller cover or a foam roller cover and will only load it up twice to do the whole side before brushing it over, the rollers are well rolled out to).
So as stated apply thin coats, then leave for at least 24 hours prior to to 48 applying the next coat (if yo do get any runs leave for an additional 24 hours before again lightly sanding), just make sure that you take your time and it will come up like magic.
Hope this is of help


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Old 09-11-2010, 09:34 AM   #3
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painting riser white

Thanks for the comment Gibbo. That gave me some comfort to paint it... I'm afraid that if no (stairs) contractor is willing to do it, that must be a difficult job to be done "right". It's good to know how exactly it's been done and the result is good.
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:58 PM   #4
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Water based or oil?

A quick question. Any difference or advantage for using water based primer to oil based?
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:55 PM   #5
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That's interesting to hear the reason they won't refinish the risers. I'm in the exact same boat: I had four different floor guys come in and nobody would touch the risers...I couldn't figure out why, just thought they didn't like trying to sand the vertical portions.

Anyhow, one possible idea I read about: if they're in bad shape and you don't mind doing some work, one option could be to flip them over. The wood on the back is likely in perfect condition, so if it's something you can get to then it could be worth exploring.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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I'd like to know more about painting the risers. Specifically what paint and primer to use on real wood.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by metador View Post
A quick question. Any difference or advantage for using water based primer to oil based?
As long as they are both bonding primers about the only difference is ease of clean-up and the water based primer doesn't smell as bad.You will have to be really careful not to kick the risers for a couple/three weeks the paint and primer bonds as it cures.
Charlie Daniels painting and repair
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:02 PM   #8
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I find it curios why they say they are veneer. I am sure they can be.
All I ever installed was the same material as the treads.

My question is, are you sure you want them painted, or would you prefer they match the treads?
You can test sand in some inconspicuous spot, if you do sand through, were going to paint anyways.

I could see where it is more labor intense to do the risers.
Imagine if you were wiping a finish on the treads and risers starting from the top and working your way down to the bottom, the risers start getting runs and drips and they will because of vertical. Is no way to get back to wipe them while still wet.
Will have to come back and fix them, then babysit them when drying, just a hassle they do not want to deal with.
So they make up a story about veneer or simply say no.
Where a real finisher will charge 3 times more because of the labor and time involved, will do it.

Who knows, maybe it is popular to use cheaper wood for risers, I just have not done or seen it.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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I haven't seen veneer risers either, usually solid oak like the treads. Even if they were solid, they would be hard to sand for several reasons.

A lot of people think they look good painted white. If you will be painting over the old varnish, I really like an oil prime for the beat adhesion. I think there are newer latex primers that adhere well, but I haven't used them enough to trust them on something that gets abuse like risers.

These I did turned out looking good, but they were constructed for white risers. The treads were oak, risers were pre primed mdf. So not nearly as difficult to do as starting from scratch.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:17 PM   #10
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Have never used or heard of veneer risers. If i was thinking about staining them. You might want to look into the Gel stains, don't have to worry as much about runs and drips.


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