I have a metal spiral staircase that has an existing coat of paint, but I want to re-paint it white. Do I need to remove all of the existing paint before I re-paint it?

I’m not sure exactly what kind of metal or what kind of paint the original coat is, but the paint is in great shape and there is no rusting or anything. The treads used to be covered in carpet and so there’s glue residue on them that will need to be removed, but I’d rather not have to go through the tedious process of sanding down each individual railing (further than a rough sand to allow a bond to the original paint).

A related question is whether it would be ill-advised to use the standard semi-gloss paint I’ve been using for the doors and trim around the house, but I’m guessing it’s best to use a more specialized paint. I plan to get tread covers for the steps so the paint won’t need to hold up to traffic, but I certainly want to do the best I can to make sure it won’t peel or chip any time soon.

Thanks!enter image description here

1 Answer 1


If the paint on it is well-bonded and not flaking off or rusty (but it's inside, so rusty is less of a problem, presumably) then simply scuffing to the point where the new paint can bond should be fine.

When the old paint is flaking off, then you really have to remove it, since part of it flaking off indicates that the rest of it is a dubious substrate for new paint. Consider that the bond of the new paint to the metal is the bond of the new paint to the old paint, and the bond of the old paint to the metal - so if the bond of the old paint to the metal is at all doubtful, it has to come all the way off. Your description indicates that this is not the case.

  • Thanks @ecnerwal! Would you have any recommendations on which type of paint to use? I imagine I’ll need to get something appropriate for metal to use on the steps, and will probably use that on the rails as well
    – aknodt
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 1:04
  • You could either use a DTM paint, or use a DTM primer then use the same paint you have been using elsewhere Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 9:07

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