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I need to paint the walls and ceiling in this staircase. The ceiling is flat, and does not slope down with the stairs. That means that the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs is very high.

The walls and ceiling will be a different colour, so I need to be able to use a paintbrush to "cut in" under the coving.

How do I safely paint this?

I am in the UK (in case anyone wants to recommend a tool hire company).

P.S. The test colours on the wall are not the colours I'm using.

Bottom of stairs

Looking up stairs

Looking down stairs

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are three ways:

1) Lean a ladder against the lower wall, put boards connecting it with an upper stair, and put a ladder on top of that.

2) Use a baker scaffold. Baker scaffolds can be set up with varying height legs. Then put a ladder on the baker scaffold. This is my recommended solution. enter image description here 3) Use a 2 wheel edging paint pad that will allow you to cut-in using a pole. http://www.decoratingdirect.co.uk/viewprod/f/FDDEDGPD/

If you are really careful, this might even look ok.

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That scaffold looks like the best way (to me). Half the battle in DIY is knowing what the tools are called (or that they exist!), so armed with my new knowledge I will see what I can hire. Thank you. – James Jul 6 '14 at 18:02

It may make some cringe, and it is not for the faint of heart, but I would use an extension ladder of the proper height, placed on the stairs so the angle is good for climbing, one of these for either end of the long run of the stair, and place a walk board, a 2X10 or 2X12 (in the US), that is the main work surface. Access to it would be by another item cobbled together a short step ladder and plank on the top level.

I have actually done this a few times and survived

enter image description here

enter image description here

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When I was editing the pics I did not get the lines all the way to the edge. You will need some imagination to see that the incomplete lines are to go to the ladder on the other side that I drew in the other pic. Also I missed the word safely mentioned a few times in the OP, but working in a stairwell, the word safety is hard to come by. Unless you get real elaborate. – Jack Jul 5 '14 at 17:30
Just because there are no handrails and generously wide places to stand does not make it inherently unsafe. Safety is a product of safety equipment, training, and mindset. It is hard to make up for lack of one with more of the others. For example, a climbing harness connected to something upstairs can break the fall, but the best solution would be to remain well balanced at all times over the plank. Since this is done only for a few hours and the dangers are clearly apparent, it should be adequate for most unimpaired people. – wallyk Jul 5 '14 at 18:43
Last company I worked for had a safety department, it made me really aware of how something could be done safely. Just as you mention, something, being short term, as well as the other items you mention, it seems like, actually a reasonable way to go about it. As mentioned, I have done this before, in my own stair well, twice to paint, once to add crown, and will be doing it again soon in another home to run crown. It works, yes, move intentionally and mindful of every move and a body will get it done. – Jack Jul 5 '14 at 20:26
Thanks for taking the time to answer, and your annotation really made me laugh. However, I'm not sure I'm brave enough (desperate enough?) to try this idea! – James Jul 6 '14 at 18:01

Painting is easy; scaffold is for when you actually have to get up there and do something like plaster or wiring. Those tiny diameter paint rollers do wonders in the corners (slightly bend/angle the roller's handle). Also, so do brushes taped to a pole: (polesandmore.com, notice some of these are triple length)

enter image description here

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