Stairwell Project Checklist

Not sure what you will need to prepare your stairwells to become StairWELLs? To properly prepare for your stairs to become a safe and inviting and place to be, you’ll need some basic supplies and equipment for renovation.

Paint — to make your stairwells bright and colorful.

Carpet — easier on the feet than concrete, and more attractive too!

Rubber Stair Treads — necessary for extra safety when taking the stairs.

Framed Artwork — gives people something to look at while they are walking up and down.

Motivational Signs — both inside and outside the stairwell.

Music — also helps create interest and increase use.

Budget Worksheet — some general guidelines to developing a budget for your project.

Some Basic Supplies and Equipment

The stairwell project at the Rhodes Building cost $18,200, including the infrared tracking system. It is very difficult to accurately predict what a similar project will cost somewhere else, or even what supplies, materials, equipment, or permits will be necessary. Before starting your stairwell renovation, check with your building manager about the possibilities. Also, don’t limit yourself to the changes we made in our StairWELL project — use your needs assessment time to understand what employees would like and use.

People considering replicating this project have asked us about project costs. We have included some of our cost and material information for reference only. The cost of our project was substantially reduced because the building mangers were preparing to renovate the stairwell anyway. We only had to make up the difference in materials and labor above what they had already scheduled for renovation. Also, material and labor costs vary considerably across the country. In the Project Checklist, we’ve provided some information to help you estimate costs for your area.

A word about permits: Check with your building manager and safety officer to identify all relevant permits, fire and building codes BEFORE you make your purchases. It would be a shame to spend a lot of money on framed artwork, for example, only to find out that it is against code in your area to hang them!


Paint is one of the most inexpensive ways to make a large visual impact in your stairwells. We used brightly colored paint to make the stairwell landing walls cheerful and inviting. The wall on each floor’s landing was painted a different color. We also painted the stair railings a color that coordinated with the carpet. The floor numbers (1,2,3,4 or 5) were painted (in the corresponding color) on the stairwell door for each floor.


Installing carpet, if not already present, can make a huge difference in the visual appeal and comfort of your stairwell. You might find it is easier to pick a carpet color first, and then coordinate your paint choices to it.

Rubber Stair Treads

If you decide to install carpet in your stairwell, make sure to include rubber safety treading in your budget. It is relatively inexpensive and will help make your stairwell a safer place to walk. Make sure to take your carpet color choice into consideration when picking out your rubber safety tread.

Framed Artwork

We chose images for our artwork in the halls that showed people being physically active and focused on healthy eating and other healthy behaviors. The images we used are royalty-free and came from stock image banks.

With these types of stock image banks, you make a one-time purchase of the image, and therefore do not have to pay any type of royalty/usage fee. If your budget is very limited, there are searchable banks for free images on the Internet. If you obtain one of high enough quality (suggested dpi of at least 300) you can have the images enlarged and framed.

We chose to place four pictures on each floor — one large, framed picture (72″ X 72″) with three smaller, framed pictures (20″ X 20″) centered under.

Motivational Signs

Motivational signs are a great way to encourage people to use your new StairWELL. If you want to create your own signs, testing them with the employees in your building is an important step. To develop our signs, an in-house moderator conducted two focus groups (lasting one hour each) to see how well a variety of messages tested with the audience (employees working in our building.) The first focus group was done with employees who frequently used the stairs. The second focus group was done with employees who were not frequent stair users. Participants in both groups were asked to:

Which floor their offices were located, and how their bodies reacted when they walked the stairs.

Share their feelings about 24 mock signs, which highlighted various motivational messages.

The information gathered from the focus groups was then used to further tailor the messages to meet the needs and perceptions of the audience. In-house graphics staff created 14 final motivational signs (13 ¾” x 8 1/8″) that were posted strategically at “points-of-decision” around the building (e.g., sign at the elevator saying, “No waiting one door over.”).

The total production cost for the 14 signs was $700. We used its in-house graphic resources for most of this thereby reducing the cost of designing and producing the signs. See the signs we created.


We installed a digital satellite receiver that feeds the incoming signal into an integrated amplifier that, in turn, feeds five stairwell speakers (one on each floor). Four of the speakers are circular, ceiling-mounted speakers located on the door landing for each of the first four floors. The fifth speaker is a wall-mount on the fifth- floor door landing.

This digital satellite music system can help create almost any type of atmosphere through a variety of musical genres (e.g., classical, country, jazz, Latin, oldies, popular contemporary, and urban, among others). Also, you don’t have to decide on just one type of music and stick with it. Most digital satellite systems allow you change the type of music that plays with just a click of a button.

One person in each building should be designated to make the music selections on a routine basis. In the Rhodes Building, the “controls” are located inside the LAN Administrator’s office, thus he decides what music plays and when to change it. He is, however, receptive to employees’ requests for a change in music.

We paid approximately $500 to have the digital satellite equipment installed (allow 10-14 business days to order and install). Each month, we pay $55 to keep our service active.

Budget Worksheet

Use this budget worksheet to help you estimate the cost of renovating your stairwell.

$ ______________ Paint
$ ______________ Carpet
$ ______________ Rubber Stairtreads

Motivational Signs

$ ______________Focus Groups
$ ______________Sign Production
$ ______________Sign Mountings

$ ______________ Motivational Signs (Total)

Framed Artwork

$ ______________Graphic purchase
$ ______________ Print production
$ ______________ Mounting/Framing
$ ______________ Installation

$ ______________ Framed artwork (Total)

$ ______________ Purchase/Instillation of Digital Satellite Receiver
$ ______________ Monthly subscription fee (ongoing)

$ ______________ Tracking system (if applicable)

$ ______________ Project TOTAL

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