Makeovers Projects

Painted Stair Railings

Being home with “social-distancing” is reminding me of the parts of the house I would very much like to update. I am a big fan of painting steps and not a huge fan of golden oak. After looking at the cost of replacing the railings, my second Covid-19 project became painted stair railings.

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Here is the initial view:

golden oak stair railings down a hall to the front door of a house. Grey walls and white trim.
front view of golden oak stair railings before painting

They were “fine”, though in desperate need of a very deep cleaning and that poor newel post had seen WAY better days.

close up of newel post that is cracked and dirty from years of hands.

Wanting a two-tone look, I started by taping off all the balusters with Frog Tape. This part took a while because there are so many of them and I wanted really precise lines. Burnishing the edges (pressing down on them firmly) really helps give you a perfect result.

golden oak balusters taped off with green frog tape waiting to be painted

After taping, I took a really close look at the Newel Post. The crack ran the entire length of the post. Gratefully, it was completely salvageable.

close up of cracked newel post before filler

I gave the balusters a coat of Behr Marquee Ultra Pure White in a semi-gloss finish. Once fully cured (hardened), a shinier finish makes dust less likely to cling to the balusters and much easier to clean. I may regret choosing not to prime them, I honestly just forgot to do it.

first coat of white paint on the balusters of the painted stair railings

While the white paint was drying, I filled the long cracks in the newel post with wood filler, then added a second coat of paint to the balusters.

wood filler in long cracks on newel post. Painted balusters and paper towels and cleaner on the steps in the background

I sanded the wood filler smooth and started the handrail. Did you know chalk finish paint makes a great primer? It adheres so well once the surface is clean. When painting really dark colors, I like it better than gray tinted primer because it take less coats to cover it.

painted stair railings in process with white balusters and black matte hand an shoe rails. Painted with chalk-finish paint as a primer

I wanted an off-black color for the hand railings and shoe rail (that’s the part the balusters stick in at the bottom) so I went with Behr Marquee Cracked Pepper in a semi-gloss finish to help keep it clean and fresh.

It only took one coat to cover perfectly. You may notice I only taped certain areas off this time. Some of the spaces were so intricate that I found it easier to use a steady hand and small artist brush those sections.

finished painted stair railings before tape removal and with off-black Cracked Pepper paint. Grey walls and clutter in hallway to block visits from the current house goats.
All the stuff piled in the hall to the left is necessary to keep out “visiting” house goats who love to chew on EVERYTHING and track paint everywhere.

When the project was complete, it was a rainy, dreary day. I cleaned up the area and tried my best to take photos (with a few “surprise helpers”).

finished painted stair railings with "surprise" cameo appearance from a local "helper".

Yes, I know I need to paint the rail over against the wall… it involves taking it off the wall (or a LOT of wall paint touch up after). Getting it off the wall requires a second set of hands (and “helpers” disappear quickly at times assistance is requested). So if it’s too distracting for you, I had a friend “fix” it:

edited picture with unpainted handrail on the back wall removed. Grey paint on wall, white trim and balusters and off-black railings.

The final hall view is much more appealing to me now and I love the painted stair railings so much, I wish I would have done it ages ago. Now if I can just find that “helper” to assist with getting that long railing off the wall…

Finished view of "new" painted stair railings down hall to front door of home.
finished painted stair railings in home. Grey walls with Home Sweet Home in wooden circle hanging on wall.

What are you doing to stay busy at home? Do you have any big or little projects going? I jumped into a major closet remodel right after this…. I am hoping to be able to show you next week!

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pinnable image leading to post on painted stair railings

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    […] Frog Tape is honestly far superior to the Blue stuff. It’s more expensive for a reason…. it works REALLY well- just burnish those edges. (I explain that technique when painting my door and stair railings) […]

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    April 15, 2020 at 8:03 AM

    […] watching paint dry, I worked on the stair rails, and cut the […]

  • Reply
    September 27, 2021 at 2:31 PM

    What color grey is in the walls? I am having the hardest time picking a grey for my house.

    • Reply
      January 1, 2022 at 3:35 PM

      Hi Erica! This is my favorite grey. It’s called Filtered Shade and it’s by Valspar (4003-1B) though I have had it mixed in Behr Marquee and Sherwin Williams with perfect results as well.

  • Reply
    Norah Leblanc
    January 9, 2022 at 3:06 PM

    Are you going to leave the stairs alone? I have the same set up but the spindles are already white. The rest oak.

    • Reply
      January 10, 2022 at 11:43 AM

      At some point We plan on refinishing all the floors so I will have them stained to whatever we do with the rest of the floors in the house. I will most likely paint the risers though. I want to figure out how to deal with the closed strings on the sides. They were not cut properly and there is a large gap between that and the treads. That currently bothers me more than the ugly wood color.

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