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Stairwell Appearance

Taking the stairs is a great way to increase your daily physical activity. But let's face it—if you must decide between riding to the 5th floor in a carpeted, well-lit elevator (which requires no effort) versus walking up flights of stairs surrounded by stark gray walls and concrete floors, which would you choose? An important motivator in encouraging people to take the stairs is making stairwells a safer, more inviting place to be.

What We Did

Through CDC's "StairWELL to Better Health" project, the Rhodes Building stairwells were rejuvenated. First, carpeting was laid over the concrete stairs and flooring, and rubber treading was added to each of the steps to maximize safety.

	man working on stairwellNext, the bare walls were transformed by adding brightly colored paint, with each floor a different color. Framed artwork also was added to each floor, which featured people being active, photos of nutritious foods, and picturesque scenery. Royalty-free clip-art was used for many of the pictures, to keep the cost of artwork low.

View before and after photos.

What You Can Do

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!

  • Carpet your stairwell if it isn't already, or if the carpet is in bad repair.
  • Add rubber treading for safety.
  • Paint the walls bright colors.
  • Hang artwork in the stairwell, if permitted. Other ideas for framed art include cartoons and children's art. Pictures should be changed periodically to keep stair users from getting bored.
  • See Project Check list for materials and budget worksheets
  • Be sure to leave room for motivational signs. The next page gives you examples of fun and functional motivational signs.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.

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