How to Paint High Walls on Stairs Safely and Effectively

Bob Thomas


Painting high walls on stairs can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, tools, and techniques, you can achieve a professional-looking result.

As a qualified painter and decorator, I've faced my fair share of tricky painting projects, and I'm here to share my tips and tricks for painting high walls on stairs.

Follow this step-by-step guide to make the process safer and more manageable.

Quick Summary

To paint really high walls on stairs, follow these steps: 1) Gather the necessary tools and materials, 2) Set up a stable and secure platform, 3) Prepare the walls, 4) Apply primer, 5) Paint the walls, and 6) Clean up and enjoy your freshly painted walls. By following these steps and using the right equipment, you can safely and effectively paint high walls on stairs.

Tools and Materials

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools and materials for the job.

This will ensure a smoother and more efficient painting process.

Tools and Materials

Extension ladder

To reach high walls

Ladder leveler

To keep the ladder stable on uneven stairs

Adjustable plank

To create a stable platform

Paint roller

To apply paint evenly


For cutting in and detail work

Paint tray

To hold paint


To prepare the walls for painting

Interior paint

To cover the walls

Drop cloths

To protect floors and furniture

Painter's tape

To create clean edges

Sandpaper (120 grit)

To smooth and prepare the walls

Set Up a Stable and Secure Platform

Safety is crucial when painting high walls on stairs.

Set up an extension ladder with a ladder leveler to ensure it's stable on the uneven stairs.

Next, use an adjustable plank to create a secure platform between the ladder and a higher step.

This will allow you to move freely and safely while painting.

Important: Always have a spotter to hold the ladder and ensure your safety while you work at height.

Prepare the Walls

Before you begin painting, it's important to prepare the walls.

Remove any dirt, dust, and debris by wiping down the walls with a damp cloth.

Repair any holes, cracks, or imperfections using a filler, and sand the walls with 120-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface.

Lastly, apply painter's tape to baseboards, trim, and any other areas you want to protect from paint.

Apply Primer

Applying primer is a key step in ensuring a long-lasting and professional-looking paint job.

Use a paintbrush to cut in along the edges and a paint roller to cover larger areas.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Paint the Walls

Once the primer is dry, it's time to paint the walls.

Stir the paint thoroughly and pour it into a paint tray. Use a paintbrush to cut in along the edges, and a paint roller to cover the larger areas.

Apply at least two coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Clean Up and Enjoy Your Freshly Painted Walls

After the final coat of paint has dried, carefully remove the painter's tape and dispose of any drop cloths.

Clean your brushes, rollers, and paint tray, and store your tools and materials for future use. Step back and admire your freshly painted walls!

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. What safety equipment should I use when painting high walls on stairs?

  A: When painting high walls on stairs, use a sturdy ladder or scaffolding, non-slip shoes, safety glasses, gloves, and a safety harness if working at extreme heights.

Make sure the ladder is set up on a stable, even surface.

Q. What tools do I need for painting high walls on stairs?

  A: You'll need paint, a paint roller with an extension pole, a paintbrush for cutting in, a paint tray, a drop cloth or plastic sheeting, painter's tape, and a ladder or scaffolding.

Q. How should I prepare the wall before painting?

  A: Remove any nails, dust, and dirt from the wall.

Fill any holes or cracks with filler and sand the area smooth.

Clean the wall with a mild soap solution, rinse, and let it dry completely. Apply painter's tape to protect any adjacent surfaces.

Q. How can I ensure an even paint job on high walls?

  A: Start by cutting in around the edges and corners with a paintbrush.

Then, use a paint roller with an extension pole to cover the rest of the wall.

Work in small sections, moving from top to bottom and overlapping each pass slightly to avoid visible lines.

Q. How many coats of paint should I apply?

  A: Typically, two coats of paint are recommended for a smooth, even finish.

However, this may vary depending on the color and quality of the paint. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.

Q. How do I reach the highest points of the wall safely?

  A: Use a ladder or scaffolding to reach the highest points of the wall.

Make sure your ladder or scaffolding is stable and secure, and always maintain at least three points of contact while working at height.

Q. How long should I wait for the paint to dry before removing the painter's tape?

  A: It's best to wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before removing the painter's tape.

This allows the paint to fully cure and prevents peeling or damage to the paint job.

Q. How can I clean up after painting high walls on stairs?

  A: Remove any remaining painter's tape and carefully roll up the drop cloth or plastic sheeting to collect debris.

Clean brushes, rollers, and other tools with water and soap for water-based paints or the appropriate solvent for oil-based paints.

Dispose of paint and other materials according to local regulations.


Painting high walls on stairs can be a daunting task, but with the right tools, techniques, and safety measures in place, it's achievable for both DIYers and professionals.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can safely and effectively transform your stairwell with a fresh coat of paint.

Remember to take your time, work methodically, and prioritize safety while working at height.

Once you're finished, enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done and the fresh, updated look of your newly painted walls.

Suggested Products:  

Werner Multi-Position Ladder: A versatile and durable ladder that can be adjusted for use on stairs, making it perfect for painting high walls on staircases. Its non-slip feet and locking mechanisms ensure stability and safety.

Purdy Power Lock Extension Pole: This high-quality extension pole allows you to reach higher areas with ease when painting walls on stairs. It features a quick lock mechanism and is compatible with various roller frames for convenience.

Wooster Sherlock Roller Frame: A sturdy roller frame that works well with extension poles for painting high walls on stairs. Its quick-release spring prevents roller slippage, ensuring an even paint application.

Purdy XL Glide Angled Paintbrush: This paintbrush is designed for precise cutting in, making it ideal for painting edges and corners on high walls. Its angled bristles provide better control and a smooth finish.

Wooster Pro/Doo-Z Roller Covers: These high-quality roller covers provide a smooth and even paint application, reducing the chances of streaks or lines when painting high walls on stairs.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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