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Remodeling 101: Nautical Stripes on the Stairs


Remodeling 101: Nautical Stripes on the Stairs

September 30, 2013

Is there anyone immune to the charms of a few good nautical stripes? Crisp and classic, they assure that everything is in excellent form and good order. Inspired by a Pinterest image, Connecticut-based designer Hannah Childs decided a set of stripes on kitchen stairs would imply a tight running ship in a summer cottage she was renovating for a family of five. (See the full project in Before & After: A Summer Cottage Reborn on the Connecticut Coast.)

Enter Steve Dunn of PJ Cullina Contracting and his painter Joseph M. Palmieri, a specialist with over 20 years of experience and a passion for challenges. The big challenge here? Laying the stripes on stairs built in 1892 with treads of differing width from top to bottom, and four winders (triangular treads) that are not square.

“The layout of the stair stripe proved to be more difficult than we anticipated,” Dunn says. “To this day I will only walk on the outside of the lines for fear of scratching the paint. Probably not necessary as I have seen packs of children go up and down all summer long.”

For those who want to give this a go, Palmieri explains his process:

Photographs by Elizabeth Watsky.
Remodeling 101 Nautical Stripes on the Stairs portrait 3

Above: “The first thing was to scrape and sand all surfaces of the stairs,” Palmieri says. “Then I started painting the edges of the stairs and risers about 8 inches in; they’re in Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel (gloss) in White Dove.”

Remodeling 101 Nautical Stripes on the Stairs portrait 4

Above: “The second step was to tape off about 7 inches in from the edges for the center color [Benjamin Moore Bone White],” Palmieri says. “As the stairs widened, we had to compensate for the difference keeping the center Bone White color the same width. We painted the center color after the outside edge color dried.”

Remodeling 101 Nautical Stripes on the Stairs portrait 5

Above: “Taping for the blue stripes was difficult,” Palmieri says. “The turn of the stairs changed the width of the stripe and angling the tape became a problem.” Childs continued the nautical theme with rope railing.

Remodeling 101 Nautical Stripes on the Stairs portrait 6

Above: “After two coats of the blue paint [Benjamin Moore Patriot Blue] were added and the tape was removed, there was a great deal of leaking and jagged edges,” Palmieri says. “I then proceeded to free hand the blue edges to clean up the lines, which is very time consuming. The final step was to paint the stairs with three coats of a clear high gloss, water based, wood floor polyurethane; this keeps everything from yellowing.”

Remodeling 101 Nautical Stripes on the Stairs portrait 7

Above: Childs specified Benjamin Moore paint for all three colors; White Dove for the outside edges, Bone White for the center and Patriot Blue for the stripes. With all three colors, Palmierei used Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel followed by three coats of a clear high-gloss, water-based wood floor polyurethane. To mark the guidelines for the stripes, he used Frog Tape.

Below: See Palmieri in action as he paints the stripes on the stairs. Video by PJ Contracting. 

N.B.: PJ Contracting can be contacted at 860-961-6600 and Joseph Palmieri at 860-227-8128.

Have some floors you’re considering painting? For more ideas, see Painted Plywood – The Best Budget Wood Floor10 Geometric Stenciled Floors, and Dramatic Floor Stencils.
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Frequently asked questions

What are nautical stripes?

Nautical stripes are a classic design element inspired by the navy and coastal lifestyle, typically consisting of horizontal stripes in white and navy blue or other maritime colors.

Can nautical stripes be used on stairs?

Yes, nautical stripes can be used on stairs to create a beachy and coastal aesthetic.

What materials are best for nautical-striped stairs?

Materials such as painted wood, wallpaper, or carpet can be used to create nautical-striped stairs.

Are there any tips for painting nautical stripes on stairs?

Use painter's tape to mark off the stripes and ensure they are evenly spaced. Paint the base color first, let it dry, then add the stripes on top.

How can I integrate nautical stripes into a broader design scheme?

Pair nautical stripes with other coastal elements, like seashells, rope accents, or blue and white ceramics. Use them in entryways, living rooms, or bedrooms.

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