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Stenciled Stair Risers

Looking for an easy way to update your staircase? Do it with paint. Create riser covers with plywood, paint and our free downloadable stencils.

Painted and stenciled stair risers

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Paint tray
  • Spray adhesive
  • Crafts knife
  • Carpet tape


  • 1/4-in x 4-ft x 4-ft birch plywood, #6198
  • Primer
  • Shelf liner, #309631

Valspar Signature paint:

  • Bay Mist, #5006-7C
  • Crocodile Smile, #6005-7C
  • Toasted Coffee, #2008-3B
  • Exotic Sea, #5004-10B

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Project Resources


Step 1

Measure stair risers' width and height. Cut the 1/4-in x 4-ft x 4-ft birch plywood to those measurements using a jigsaw. (Don't rely on each riser being exactly the same size. Measure each one and number them in order from bottom to top, then write the numbers on the back of each as you cut them out.) Lightly sand the front of each new riser cover and wipe clean.

Good to Know

The front of the stair tread should hang over the riser by at least 1/4-in. If your stair tread does not have an overhang, this project will not work for your home.

Step 2

Coat the front of each riser cover with primer. Let dry completely. Then paint each riser cover a background color and let dry completely before applying the stencil.

Step 3

Download the stair riser stencils and enlarge to the desired scale and print. Cut out the designs.

Step 4

Roll out adhesive shelf liner. Do not remove the backing. Arrange the shelf liner backing side down on a hard surface that won't be ruined by a crafts knife. Tape down the shelf liner corners. Spray the back side of the stencil with spray adhesive and adhere to the shelf liner. Smooth it out to make sure there are no bumps and that it is well attached. Cut out the design.

Step 5

Remove shelf liner from the work surface. Peel off the sticker backing and lightly position the stencil over the stair riser cover, smoothing it down as you work from one end to the other. Be sure the paper is flat to the surface of the riser cover or paint will seep under the edges.

Good to Know

To ensure that your design stays uniform from riser to riser, arrange your riser cover in the same direction as it will attach to your stairs before applying the stencil. This will keep the pattern continuous in case the stair risers are different sizes.

Step 6

Fill in the stencil by applying even coats of paint over the surface of the stencil. Let paint dry completely between coats.

Step 7

Carefully remove the stencil; start at one end and work your way to the other. Re-apply the stencil next to the painted pattern to create another row. For the square stenciled stair riser covers, do not leave a space; instead, mirror the pattern to create the design.

Step 8

Stair riser covers with circle pattern

Use carpet tape to attach the stenciled stair riser covers to the original risers.