Stair Riser Stencil with Tuscan Tile Design

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, I almost don’t know how to begin. 😉  But I figured a few of my friends, including those that I’m going to see again at Haven Conference this week, might want to see a recent design project using Tuscan Tile stencils on stair risers.

Tuscan tile stencil design on stairs title

The clients had just finished building out their basement, and didn’t fancy either the cost or upkeep of carpeting the stairs. Knowing their elegant upscale style, I suggested this Tuscan Tile pattern from Royal Design Studio Stencils. Do you really want to see how rough these really were when we started? Pretty rough.

unfinished stairs ready for Tuscan Tile stencil

We had the contractor complete his part of the job with a brown porch and floor paint from the Home Depot.

painted stairs waiting for Tuscan Tile stencil design

Now comes the pretty part. We used the Sherwin Williams Commodore (SW6524) blue paint in flat that was used elsewhere in the rooms for the darker blue, and I layered that with a shimmery Metallic Teal stencil cream from Royal Designs Studios for the two-tone stencil.

paints used for stencil stair design

Here is the finished stair riser stencil project.

Do you notice the soft, sweet little shimmer?

after- Tuscan Tile stencil design from Royal Design Studios

You’ll notice one thing right away, that we didn’t paint the risers (that’s the part of the steps that are vertical) white. You’ll see dark treads and white risers in a lot of designs, but I find that is very impractical because the stairs are nearly impossible to keep clean. Since this is the basement level, and not the main part of the house, we opted for easy maintenance, and just added the pizzazz with the stencil. I’m confident we made the right choice.

In case you want to follow along, here are the basic steps of the stair riser stencil project.

1. Prep the wooden steps with a good quality porch and floor paint.

2. Tape up your stencils in a row. I wish this stencil came as a row, but it only came as individuals, so there was a lot of taping!

Tuscan tile stencil on stairs

3. Paint the first color in the design you’ve chosen. I used a foam roller to paint the entire design on the entire riser from left to right. Be sure to offload the roller each time before applying the paint. This step is very important to get a nice, crisp application. I found that the latex as the first layer was a very good base for the shimmer paint. Wait just a few minutes for this layer to dry. It’s a very thin layer, so it dries quickly.

first paint layer on stair stencils

4. Use a stencil brush (these have a flat brush head) to tamp in the second color in alternating patterns. Be sure to offload the brush onto a paper towel each time. You honestly use miniscule amounts of stencil creme. I didn’t even use half of one jar!

second layer of paint on stair stencils

5. Remove the stencil, and use a fine point artist brush to go back over each color separately and make the design as sharp as possible.

6. Repeat on each riser. Work from the top of the stairs down to the bottom so you aren’t climbing over the wet stuff.

7. When finished, protect your design with one or two layers of matte water-based polyurethane. This doesn’t change the color or sheen at all, but will protect your design from dents and dings for longer. I had a hard time deciding which one to use, but I was super happy with Minwax Satin Polycrylic (water based)
Protective Finish in Clear Satin. Again, I only used half of a 1/2 pt can for all fourteen risers.

Tusscan Tile design on stairs by Royal Design Studio


Working with stencils can be time consuming, and it’s definitely all about the details, but one of the things I like best is the fact that you can customize your project as much as you’d like. As a surprise to these homeowners, I stenciled a drum lampshade in the same design for them. You can see other lampshade stencil projects I did here.


Tuscan Tile design from Royal design studios on a lamp shade

I will not lie, this projects took hours. And hours. But it was so worth it. Every time I visit, they tell me how they love it more and more each day, and how many of their neighbors absolutely love the stencil designs.

Help me out here. It can be hard to keep writing these articles in summer, not knowing if anyone is reading or inspired by them.

Have you done something amazing to your stairs?

Are you inspired by these modern stencils?

Please comment below! Thanks.


This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Joann Brunhofer

    Absolutely gorgeous, Darla! 🙂

    1. Darla

      Thanks, Joann. Lots of color!

  2. Carol

    Darla–the stairs are gorgeous! Where did you find the stencil, or did you order online?

    1. Darla

      Thanks for reading, Carol. The company that makes the stencil is Royal Design Studio Stencils, and the link for this item is just below the first picture in the article. Let me know if you end up recreating this project. I’d love to see it.

  3. Mrs Major Hoff

    I am still thinking about these stairs days later! I so love this! Now I just need to get a 2 story house so I can do this! Love them so much!

    1. Darla

      That’s so sweet of you to say. Thanks! I’m sure you have at least one step you can stencil. Maybe the pull down attic stairs? (If you get aaalllll of your projects done and start decorating the attic stairs, call me and we’ll both have a good chuckle!)

  4. Dale

    Beautiful, classy and elegant … have to paint my basement stairs (putting house on market); we have open risers, but will adapt your idea to edge of stairs so they are clearly “differenated” and you can see where to step! Was not happy with thought of some kind of reflective tape. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    1. Darla

      Great idea!I’ve had some of those sneaky tricky stairs in client’s homes before, and stenciling a narrow design on the bullnose or top edge would be a great way to make them a little safer. Good luck with your project.

  5. Terri

    These stairs look wonderful. We have been contemplating a change on our now carpeted stairs. I have done quite a bit of stenciling in the past so this might just be the answer. I really like the hint of shimmer.

    1. Darla

      Thanks for stopping by. Once you see what’s under that carpet, you’ll never want carpet on stairs again. Good luck!

  6. Carol Paulus-Kalis

    You have just blown me away ! ! ! These risers look phenomenal. I can appreciate how long it took you and the time it took you to re-tape the stencils over and over on the risers. However, the end result is absolutely gorgeous and so different. You should be very proud of yourself. I am putting this in my favorite “Hometalk” folder for future reference. Good job, and I love it.
    Carol P-K

    1. Darla

      Carol, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope this inspires you with your own projects!

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  9. dana

    I really like your stairs all of them looks awesome 🙂

    1. Darla

      Thank you. Stairs are really a fun place to decorate.

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