Hi, Sean. Before proceeding, check the thread that starts with "I need help with refinishing my stairway" posted by Lee on 4/25. Do the "what it isn't" tests and let us know the results. Personally, I would not consider paint since you probably have a beautiful set of wood stairs. Paint will not stand up to the foot traffic very well either. A good modern clear wood finish will save you a heck of a lot of touch-up painting in the future.