Wondering how to paint tall walls over stairs? What about how to paint high ceilings over stairs? These can be tricky projects to tackle, but we have the tools and tips you need to get the job done.

A close up of a building with white walls and black trim, focusing on the high walls above stairs. A close up of a building with white walls and black trim, focusing on the high walls above stairs.

Ready to Learn How to Paint High Walls and Ceilings Above Stairs?

If you’re looking to paint high walls or a tall ceiling above your staircase, the best advice we can offer you is to hire a professional painting contractor. This kind of job comes with several safety considerations and specialty tools, especially if your wall or ceiling is over 10 feet. If you’re not comfortable with ladders or heights, this is likely not the best DIY project for you.

If you are committed to doing it yourself, read on for tools and techniques on how to paint above stairs so you can give your entryway or hallway a fresh new look.

Step #1: Choose Your Tools and Ladder

Before you start painting a high wall or tall ceiling above stairs, explore the tools that can help make this type of project a little easier.

A few specialty tool options for painting high walls and ceilings include:

  • Extension Pole Adapter - Fit your paintbrush or other tools on the end of your extension pole to cut in your paint or reach hard-to-get project corners.
  • Paint Edging Tool - Makes cutting in and painting around corners in high spaces much easier than just using a roller.
  • Ladder Leveler - A handy device that levels a stair surface to make ladder placement easier and safer. The leveler attaches to the outside rails of the ladder and creates an even surface through adjustable legs that balance the ladder.

If you’re lucky enough to reach high walls with just an extension pole, that’s great. However, this type of project typically requires a ladder.

There are a number of ladder types to choose from. Make sure you choose the best ladder based on the height of your walls and ceiling. For especially high spaces, you might need indoor scaffolding, which you can rent.

Count on your local Benjamin Moore retailer for advice on choosing the best tools and ladder for your project.

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Helpful Tip

Consider renting a ladder, ladder leveler or indoor scaffolding versus buying one to make your project more cost-effective.

Step #2: Prep Your Space

When painting high walls or ceilings over stairs, remove all furniture, wall hangings and light fixtures in your project space. Cover your stairs and the area under your ceiling with a drop cloth, and tape off any stringers or molding along your staircase walls. Consider wrapping handrails in plastic sheeting. Wipe away any dust or cobwebs with a broom or duster.

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Helpful Tip

Need help patching up your walls? Check out How to Fix Small Holes to get your wall hangings back up when your project is done.

Step #3: Make a Plan for Painting Your Space

Once you’ve picked out your tools and prepped your space, make a plan and get organized on how to tackle the job.

Make a list to determine which painting tool you’ll need when, since each tool comes into play at different points of the project.

Map out your project space, noting:

  • The areas where you’ll be using a ladder or scaffolding
  • Where you can safely place your ladder
  • Where you might need a ladder leveler
  • When you’ll need specialty tools like an extension pole adapter or an edging tool

Once you’ve made a plan, you’re ready to paint!

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Helpful Tip

Consider making a pencil sketch of your project. You don’t have to be an expert illustrator, but getting a visual down will help you map your project out!

Step #4: Paint Your Ceiling

Using the right product to paint the ceiling above your stairs makes your project much easier.

The forgiving ultra flat finish of Waterborne Ceiling Paint offers superior hide that helps cover mistakes that are easy to make in a project like this.

If you are committed to a white ceiling, INSL-X® Color Changing Ceiling Paint is another great option to minimize the appearance of surface imperfections. Color-Changing Ceiling Paint goes on pink to indicate missed spots, then dries to a uniform white, flat finish.

Start painting by cutting in the edges of your ceiling using a paintbrush on an extension pole. Switch to a roller and roll paint onto the remaining ceiling area in sections, moving your ladder as you go and making sure not to paint over your head.

Step #5: Paint Your High Walls

When it comes to how to paint high walls on stairs, if your walls have been previously painted, you don’t need to use primer. If you’re working with unfinished drywall, apply a coat of Fresh Start® High-Hiding All Purpose Primer before you begin painting.

Cut in the edges of walls with Regal® Select Interior paint using a paintbrush and an extension pole. Use a paint edging tool to paint the edges and corners of your project space.

Once you’re done painting, switch to a roller on an extension pole and roll your paint along the wall from top to bottom.

Step #6: Let Dry and Repeat

For both your walls and ceiling, allow your first coat of paint to dry before applying a second coat. Let your freshly painted walls and ceiling dry completely before returning the area to everyday use.

Ready for More Interior DIY?

Check out some ideas and inspiration for painting a staircase to transform your space. As always, visit your local Benjamin Moore retailer for help with all your painting needs.