How to Paint A Staircase Railing? 9 Steps from Start to Finish


Do you live in a house with an attention-stealing staircase? If yes, you are lucky. Staircases and their railings have always been a symbol of sophistication and alluded at luxury in the past. Today, they are still capturing the attention the moment you enter the living room or the hall in the house. You can think of them as the big centrepiece in the house that apart from bringing poise in the house, it is a perfect place to take family photos.

But are they easy to maintain? How to Paint A Staircase Railing during renovations? Well, this might be a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to do it on your own. Fortunately, all you need are the right materials and the right directions, of course. It is not easy, let’s not fool ourselves, but detailed planning and careful execution of the plan is all it takes. So, let’s get down to it.

Step 1. Collect the materials

For beginners, collect all the material and tools you will need. You can use the following list as a checklist.

  • Grit sand paper – use fine to medium
  • Tape for painting
  • Foam paint rollers and trays for paint application
  • Primer
  • Semi-gloss trim paint in a white undertone
  • Semi-gloss trim paint in a contrasting colour
  • Paint brushes – angled with short and long handles.
  • Step Ladder

Step 2. Light Sanding the Hand Rails

Start with baby steps – sand the hand rails avoiding the spindles if you only want to refresh the paint. If you want to do a complete transformation, then take time to finish this step as sanding the spindles will add a few hours plus to the process. Rough them up a little scratching the surface just enough to remove the top layer.

Step 3: Wash and Let Dry

You might need a liquid de-glosser to take care of the spindles that are clear coated. Use a quality one so that you don’t have to look at chips later on. Also, use a liquid degreaser and warm water to wash the rails and spindles and once you do the washing, let it dry before starting to prime.

Step 4: Tape Off Areas to Protect Them from Paint

For the fourth step it is time to use the tape to protect the areas you don’t want to drop paint on. These areas are the walls, flooring and baseboards. It takes only a few minutes to tape them off and the result is amazing – squeaky clean lines that enhance the finesse of precision.

Step 5: Priming

One note before starting: if you are using a trim paint and a primer 2 in 1, you don’t have to do the priming step. If not, then apply the primer and then continue with the following activity. Take the high density foam roller and apply it on 1 coat of primer. Roll as much as you can since it will reduce the need to go over the spots with a paint brush later.

Also, it is much easier to use the paint roller than the brush as you can coat the railing in no time at all. Use the tray to make sure that the roller isn’t oversaturated with paint and it isn’t dripping paint while you are rolling. Try leaving just enough paint to cover the railing in a nice, smooth layer.

When it comes to painting the spindles, make sure you do a quick check up on the other side after painting each one to see no paint dripping is happening there as well. The quick check up will save you the extra work later.

You need to know: How Long Does Primer Take To Dry?

Step 6: Painting with White

Provided that you have chosen the preferable tone while you were doing the first step of the process, you are ready to paint the railings with a contrasting colour. Again, make sure you leave no drips around the back of the spindles. Don’t apply a thick coat as it will take a long time to dry out and also it will look poorly painted, like a job done by a beginner.

After you apply the paint use the angled brush to take care of the leftover grooves along the edges. At the end, you need to ensure that the white is fully covering all the area of the railing spindles.

Step 7: Make Sure Everything’s All Dried

The dry time should be over after 2 hours after application of the trim paint, so you can re-coated it then. Apply a second layer of white and wait again to start painting the darker colour.

Step 8: Painting with Colour

All that is left is to apply the darker colour you had chosen on the top hand rails and the balusters. Here, you can use the tape again to protect the areas where the balusters touch the underside of the handrails along the walls.

Use the angled paint brushes to paint the intricate spots. Again, wait for it to dry off and apply the second coat. Finally, take the tape off when the second coat is about to dry as it will leave a crisper line.

Step 9: Maintaining

You are done! Congratulations! Your painting project is done. Your staircase railing is now a beautiful centrepiece you can be proud of. If you wanted to achieve a new look in the room with a fresh new paint in a different colour, now you can enjoy the view.

If you want to continue with the decorating process but you are unsure how you can make all the details complement each other, then you can hire a virtual stager that can give you living room staging ideas with their digital transformation of the place. That way, you can visualise how your freshly painted staircase will fit with the style of the interior design decorations you have in mind.

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