No kidding! She made just one inexpensive change to her stairs, but the difference is SO dramatic!

An easy and beautiful fix for shabby stair risers.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Beautiful inexpensive easy
Beautiful, inexpensive, easy!

As shown in the Before picture, the stair treads refinished beautifully– but the risers looked terrible. My new old house was almost completely made over; I’d walk in the front door and see the nicely refinished flooring…and the disconcerting dark brown risers.
Made of thin pine, it would have been a challenge to strip and refinish them, or sand and paint, or replace the boards. There are 16 steps in the two runs of stairs.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Before after
Before & after

The idea came from a DIY home improvement site. I wanted something inexpensive and easy, and ideally it would draw attention to the beautiful refinished flooring.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Before gouged paint blotchey surfaces
Before: gouged paint, blotchey surfaces

First I measured the border height needed, 5-1/4″. The risers have a quarter-round molding along the upper edge which I left in place.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, The basket appears about every 38
The basket appears about every 38″

Then I went shopping! A local Habitat ReStore is in a former wallpaper store; the inventory included several racks of 5-yard border rolls for 50¢ each. I went digging through them to find a design and color scheme I liked.
Found this lovely French blue scroll design, exactly the right height. With 16 risers, I needed at least 4 rolls, and I found 6. Total price: about $3.00

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Bottom step with molding trim
Bottom step with molding trim

I initially completed the lowest step in the living room to make sure I liked the project. There’s a gap between the flooring and the steps, so I trimmed it out with an extra piece of the floor molding used throughout the house.
Determining the layout was easy, as the design has an attractive basket motif. I used that as the center of each riser.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Pulling the carpet nails and staples
Pulling the carpet nails and staples

No need to finish the surface to be covered, however, each riser had several staples and nails remaining from the previous carpeting treatment. This required bright lighting and a variety of tools to get them all out.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor

Using the basket motif as the middle of each strip, I cut them to the approximate width. The nine lower stairs are about 37-1/4″ wide, and the seven upper steps are just about 36″.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Upper steps are just about 36 wide
Upper steps are just about 36″ wide

I marked the center of each riser panel with a small piece of masking tape.
To align the strips, I folded each one in half, making a light crease at the top of the basket.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor

Held the strip in place, and pencil-marked the wall edges where it would be trimmed.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Skirt wall gap allows the paper to fit within
Skirt wall gap allows the paper to fit within

Several risers had a gap by the skirt board, so I worked the paper end into it.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Spray adhesive applied ready to position
Spray adhesive applied, ready to position

With a newspaper backdrop to protect the floor, I applied the spray glue, then held the strip in place, smoothing down the ends.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Close up skirt board tread paper interface
Close-up: skirt board, tread/paper interface

The spray adhesive holds the paper flush against the riser.
Another benefit: I don’t notice the boo-boos on the skirt board. (The floor refinishing contractor and/or painter left some imperfections.) Sometimes you have to go with the “ten yard rule,” AKA the “galloping past” rule. Unless you are lying on the stairs holding the camera very close to a visual irregularity, you’re not going to notice it when you have a pretty French border print to distract you.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Wallpaper blade to help with adjustments
Wallpaper blade to help with adjustments

The spray adhesive is re-positionable for about 15 seconds, then grows tacky.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, My lovely assistant Pixie
My lovely assistant Pixie

The final touch : a coordinating area rug on each landing.

stair risers wallpaper border, stairs, wall decor, Found at a K Mart
Found at a K-Mart

Several followers have asked about or suggested a sealant. I did not do this, as it would have required a lot more crouching on the stairs than I wanted to invest. The treads are 11″ deep and the paper border is not exposed to any wear & tear.
The spray adhesive holds the paper firmly, and I have not experienced any dirt working its way underneath. My household does not have kids or indoor shoes. I like the look of the two border stripes and did not see a need to trim out every step as I did with the bottom one (as shown in the last photo).

Other Hometalkers’ posts have appeared as ideas. I particularly like this one, using boards that are cut to fit and then stenciled. http://www.hometalk.com/11230300/updated-stai…>

Materials I used for this project:

Wallpaper border, 5-1/4″ height (Habitat’s ReStore)

Spray adhesive (Leftover from my graphic artist days (pre-desktop publishing))

Pliers, hammer, paint scraper, scissors, measuring tape