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Painting can be a TON of hard work. See how I managed to paint our stairway wall WITHOUT a ladder or scaffolding AND without hiring a professional painter.

Painting can be a TON of hard work. See how I managed to paint our stairway wall WITHOUT a ladder or scaffolding AND without hiring a professional painter.

Skip the ladder and professional painter – with the right supplies, you can paint tall walls on your own.

After moving into our home a little over two years ago, I have been slowly and steadily painting every square inch of this place. Seriously – ceilings, walls, trim. It’s all getting a fresh coat of paint.

When we moved in, every room was painted the same shade of dated beige… ugh!

Big Changes Upstairs

Over the winter, I decided to make a pretty big change in our upstairs bedrooms and hallway. We ditched the beige walls and golden oak trim for something bright, fresh, and clean: gray trim and white walls.

The Problem

After having a handyman install new bedroom doors and trim….which was, shall I say, WAY more of an ordeal than it should have been, and painting everything myself, I was exhausted. So when I looked at that tall, beige wall lumbering over our upstairs stairway, I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle it.

So, I did what any good homeowner does: I finished 98% of the project and let the final 2% sit unfinished for months on end. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?!?!

The problem - how to paint the trim on a tall wall

I used a roller with an extra long extending handle to paint as much of the wall, as high up as I possibly could. If you have any amount of painting to do, I highly recommending investing in a good roller.

Then I sat for an embarrassing amount of time just staring at that little bit of unpainted trim, too afraid to climb up on a ladder and too proud to hire a pro.

The Solution

I was waiting at the paint counter in Menards one day, and I spotted this pad edger gadget. Now, I’m not normally one to buy into these “as seen on TV” type of gimmicks, but I really did NOT want to climb up on that ladder.

Quick Solutions pad edger to paint edging

I think there are different versions out there, but the one that I bought can accommodate an extension pole. Problem solved!

I headed out to the garage to grab a broom handle, walking right past that ladder I’m afraid to use. Because this gadget attached to a pole, you can paint trim from the safety of the ground.

Like I said, I had already painted as much of the wall as I possibly could with my roller. I also painted as much edging by hand as well. I suppose you could switch the order, but I honestly didn’t want to have to use this gadget any more than I possibly had to.

I stirred up my paint well and got to work.

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How to Paint Stairs Without Scaffolding

Supplies Needed

Supplies needed to Paint Stairs Without Scaffolding

Pad Edger

For this project, I shopped at Menards. They often have similar products, but different brand names. The gadget that I used was QuickSolutions, but if you shop at another home improvement store (like Home Depot, etc.) you will probably see a Shur-Line brand. That works well, too. You can also order one on Amazon if you like.

Extension Pole – something with a screw end. I just grabbed a broom handle from the garage. However, if you don’t already own a roller with an extending handle, I would highly recommend you buy one. Your arms and back will thank me on your next painting project.

Paint + Paint Stick

Other Painting Supplies: Drop Cloth, rollers, and brushes – if you are painting the whole wall.

Edging Tips:

Here are a few tips to help make edging a bit easier:

Practice Makes Perfect:

Don’t think you’re going to come right out of the gate with perfect technique here, especially on a project where mistakes are incredibly difficult to fix. Get to know exactly what angle you should hold the pole, how much pressure you need to use, and how much paint to apply to the pad.

If you have another area of trim to paint, that works. You can get comfortable with the edger before trying to maneuver it at an oddly high angle. You can even start out on a large piece of cardboard if you like.

You’ll Need More Paint Than You Think

The little edger tool has a bristled rectangular pad on it. Gently dunk just the bristles in the paint can. Hold the pad flat perpendicular to the surface of the paint and dunk just a bit.

I was surprised by how much paint I needed to apply to the pain in order to get good coverage, so you may be surprised too.

paint applied to a pad edger

Before you begin painting, take a paint stick and gently scrape it over the pad. This will ensure the paint is evenly applied and there are no unnecessary pools or drips.

Watch Your Angles

Cut in carefully at about a 45-degree angle. Remember, you can always get closer to the ceiling on another stroke, but you can never recover if you go too far. So, be cautious and methodical. Take your time.

cutting in to paint trim with a pad edger

Beware of the Guides

There are two little rollers on one side of the edger. I think these are in place to prevent you from getting too close to the edge.

My problem: the people who painted this wall before got really close to the ceiling… In fact, they drifted on to the ceiling at some points. So, I had to flip the edger around and use the side without the roller guard.

This wasn’t a huge deal, since the ceilings are white and the walls are now white. I just really wanted that old beige paint covered up.

Who doesn’t love a good before and after?

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a fresh coat of white paint in throughout the upstairs. The stairs before/after is pretty anticlimactic and poorly lit, but here’s what the upstairs hall looked like when we moved in vs. today:

upstairs hall before and after

What’s Next?

I really want to replace our old stairway gallery wall with something a bit more clean and simple. I’m thinking about trying my hand a making my own stained picture frames with canvas prints.

So, stay tuned for more of my DIY journey in our home.


  1. So I’m confused. Did you paint the ENTIRE wall with the edger? We have a stairwell like this and have discussed at length all the different safety rules we are going to break to get it painted.

    1. No, just the trim/edges with the edger tool. I used a regular roller on a long handle for the majority of the wall. And I hear you on the safety rules bit – the light fixture above these stairs is a PAIN to change light bulbs for.

  2. So, what was the highest height that you painted with the edger? Did you notice a difference by cutting in last? I’ve got a switch back stairway and I’ve seriously considered hiring someone just for that.

  3. I have just painted my stairwell and have left the cutting in around the ceiling. I have been stressing on how to get that done. Maybe this would work for me. . How tall are you ceilings in your stairwell? Ours are about 15 feet

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