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Staircase Remodel Cost & Ideas

By Alyssa Konermann · January 27, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Staircase Remodel Cost & Ideas

Does staring at your outdated stairs make you want to climb the walls? You may be considering a staircase remodel or replacement.

A light staircase remodel could cost less than $1,000, while a total makeover could cost $10,000.

The most involved of stair makeover ideas, removing a staircase and replacing it with a new one, may cost $10,000 or more.

How Do You Remodel Stairs?

That’s the million-dollar question, really (and no, that’s not a budget estimate). Staircases are the sum of their parts, and each part is an opportunity to increase visual appeal, the value of your home, and your home equity.

Staircases are more than just a means to move from one level of a detached house or townhouse to another. They can be a major decorative element in a home.

Your staircase remodel may be fairly minor but pack a punch: painting the vertical spindles, restaining treads or risers, and adding a bold carpet runner.

Replacing the handrails and spindles, or otherwise changing the bones of the staircase, may require finding a contractor.

That’s especially the case if you want your staircase to meet current building codes (important for safety and when you’re selling the house).

Understanding the project scope from the outset can help ensure that the staircase remodeling cost makes sense.

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Staircase Elements and Materials

Being familiar with basic staircase anatomy can help you refine project goals and have productive conversations if estimates for the job are required.

The focus here will be on interior stairs.

Treads

The stair tread is the part of the stairway that is stepped on. Treads are often made of wood, although they may have another layer on top, such as tile or carpet.

Risers

Stair risers are the vertical pieces that connect the treads: the piece of the staircase in front of your toes as you’re walking up. Risers might be made of wood or an engineered wood product.

Spindles, aka Balusters

Spindles, or balusters, provide vertical support for the stair railing. Traditional staircases might have wooden spindles, while a more modern stairway might have metal balusters.

Handrails

Also called a banister, this part is simply the rail where you put your hands. Wood, composite, and metal are all standard, although there is room for creativity.

Newel Posts and Caps

The heftier vertical posts that go in line with the spindles and create endings to the railing are the newel posts, and the cap is the decorative element that tops the newel.

Handrails start and end at the newel posts. Materials mirror those of the spindles.

Guardrails

At open spaces on stairs or landings, guardrails must be installed.

Landing

A landing is a horizontal platform that begins or ends a staircase or serves as a transition between changes in stair direction.

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Estimating the Project Scope and Cost

Familiarity with the elements of a staircase is helpful when deciding on the design and organization of the staircase remodel, even if it’s going to be done piecemeal, like refinishing the stair treads now and replacing the spindles and handrail later.

If you’re plotting your stair remodel, you have company. There are several reasons that home renovations are on the rise. The work-from-home trend is one.

Your home should be a comfy haven, but it will also likely turn out to be an investment that can help build generational wealth in your family.

Among these stair makeover ideas, minor ones can be done yourself. Others will require a licensed professional and a loan, such as a personal loan, unless you’re paying cash.

Painting the Stairs

Using paint made to withstand wear and tear is essential for the paint job to last. Look for floor, deck, or heavy-duty paint. Water-based, not oil-based, paints will prevent discoloration, especially on light colors.

Painting stairs requires proper preparation (cleaning and sanding), protecting neighboring surfaces, and possibly priming so the paint will adhere correctly.

Count on an average of $600 to paint all the corners, handrails, and balusters, plus $350 to $450 to paint the stairwell.

If this is a DIY job, a gallon of latex paint will average $20 to $50. Polyurethane to help protect the new paint finish might start at $50 per gallon. Sandpaper, paint rollers or brushes, tape, and drop cloths could add up to $70.

Stairs and age are often not a great pairing. As more people consider an accessory dwelling unit for an aging parent, that might mean an adult child moving into the two-story family home.

A new paint job, perhaps using light and dark colors on different parts of the staircase, will go a long way toward making it more inviting. Painting just the risers a bold hue can add interest, and some people even create a painted runner for their staircase remodel.

Refinishing Stairs

Refinishing stairs is a much more daunting task than painting. This involves stripping the current finish with solvents and sanding, which is easier to do on flat stair treads than turned spindles or vertical risers.

You’ll want to check for lead paint before you start stripping the paint.

You’ll need paint stripper ($50 per gallon and up), a premium heat gun (as low as $30), a power sander and sandpaper ($30 to $100), heavy-duty rubber gloves and a respirator mask ($45), and a scraper (as low as $8) to strip the original finish. Oh, and lots of time and patience.

If you’re getting bids to refinish hardwood stairs, the width and length of every step, along with the rise of each, will factor in. The price to refinish hardwood stairs and railings ranges from $4.50 to $8 per square foot for materials and labor.

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Replacing Staircase Components

Swapping elements like spindles, newels, caps, and handrails for a different style can dramatically change the overall look of a staircase.

If the staircase has historic elements, getting spindles or other pieces to match other elements in the home might require custom work if replacements can’t be found through architectural reuse or salvage sources.

Replacing carpet-covered treads with wood treads can rectify an outdated look, but realize that you may have to contend with lots of nails and staples under the carpet. Crowbar needed, stat. A contractor might charge $75 to $300 to remove the carpet.

The balusters will have to be replaced if you’re replacing the treads.

Here are some average replacement and installation costs, according to HomeAdvisor:

•   Handrail: $340 to $580

•   Newel post: $35 to $550

•   Balusters: $1,200 to $1,600

•   Treads and risers: $1,800 to $2,500

•   Carpet runner: $500 to $2,000

Expect to pay from $70 to $150 per hour on labor, and factor in any necessary permits, HomeAdvisor says.

Another source puts the cost of replacing the treads and risers at $3,000 to $4,000, including the work of master carpenters. Yes, you’ll see a range of estimates out there. If you’re getting bids, a lot depends on where you live, your choice of materials, and the size of the project.

Total Replacement

Completely replacing a staircase is logistically and financially complex, but a millennial homebuyer, for example, might want floating stairs with open risers rather than a chunkier look.

Consulting a building or remodeling professional, such as a licensed construction engineer or residential architect, about safety and fire codes and potential structural implications for the home is a good step to take.

The cost to install a main staircase averages $2,000 to $5,000, according to Fixr. But the site gives a range of $15,000 to $100,000 to put in a floating staircase, so only bids will narrow the true cost of your staircase install.

Competent staircase installers may cost as much as the staircase itself.

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The Takeaway

Stair makeover ideas include the fairly simple and the wow-worthy, and the cost of a staircase remodel ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Installing a new staircase will typically require several professionals.

If a staircase remodel or new staircase install is on your mind, one way to get quick cash is with a personal loan. SoFi offers fixed-rate personal loans of $5,000 to $100,000 with no fees and no collateral needed.

SoFi offers unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans that offer lower interest rates than you’ll typically find with credit cards. Checking your rate takes just 1 minute.

Fund your home improvement wish list with a SoFi Personal Loan.

FAQ

How much does it cost to redesign a staircase?

An architect and contractor may be required to structurally redesign a staircase. A staircase remodel, if done by the homeowner, could cost less than $1,000.

How do I modernize my stairs?

Consider changing out dated handrails. Paint can take years off.

Add a punch to the risers with eye-catching paint, tile, or even wallpaper. Consider a bold-colored or -patterned stair runner that allows the stair treads to be exposed at the edges.

A dramatic light fixture at the top of the stairway will offer both illumination and arty interest. And stair cladding — covering the treads and risers with wooden floor planks — will create a big transformation.

How do you renovate stairs on a budget?

Making less expensive changes, like adding a coat of fresh paint, replacing spindles, or adding a runner, can completely change the feel of a staircase — and the living space that surrounds it, making a house feel like a home.


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