Wood railings are a classic feature on many interior staircases. However, over time, they can get faded from the constant touching, which calls for a new coat of paint. In some cases, you may just want a different color to match a recent remodeling job. It doesn't take advanced DIY skills to refinish a wood banister if you follow these tips.

Get Ready to Paint

To paint the railings, gather:

  • leather work gloves
  • dust mask
  • degreaser or liquid dish soap
  • lint-free cloths
  • painter's tape
  • drop 00 sandpaper, 120-grit sandpaper, and 220-grit sandpaper
  • paint scraper
  • small paint trim brushes
  • wood putty
  • paint remover
  • sealing primer
  • interior enamel paint

Keep the area ventilated while you work by opening a door or windows. Use a degreaser or dish soap to wipe down the banister, rinse, and let it dry. Lay drop cloths under the banister and on the steps, then cover the rods, if you don't plan to paint them.

Inspect the banister for holes or cracks, and fill them with matching wood filler. Give the putty several hours to dry.

Sand and Prime the Banister

Dab some paint remover on a cloth, and rub small areas of old paint to keep it from drying too fast on the wood. Run the scraper over paint that is hard to remove. Lightly sand the area with the 120-grit sand paper working in the direction of the wood grain, and clean out the sand dust

If you plan to paint the spindles, wrap the 00 sandpaper around each spindle and sand them, working an old toothbrush in tight spots. Sanding roughens the finish, so the paint sticks better.

Use a trim paint brush to apply a coat of sealing primer, and let it dry. The sealing primer helps to protect the surface from stains. After the primer dries, sand it lightly using the 220-grit sandpaper and wipe dust with a damp cloth.

Paint the Banister

Begin painting at the top of the rail, adding more paint in the middle of the banister, then spread it evenly following the wood grain. The first paint layer should be thin to give the grain breathing space, because thick layers of paint make the corners look round. 

Detach the tape from the banister rods before the paint dries to avoid peeling the paint. Let the paint dry, and sand the area. Add a second coat of paint and a third if your banister gets used frequently.

To paint the spindles, begin painting at the top, ensuring you get the designs. Be careful not to let the paint pool.

For more information, contact a professional in your area like those found at Lehman Construction Services Inc.