Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wood Banister


When we installed our laminate floor and new wood stair treads, it was very evident I needed to do something about the clashing wood tones going on. Here is how it looked.

Here are the details of how we did it.
Materials Needed:
  • Power sander (I guess not necessary but helps save a lot of time)
  • Dremel rotary tool/detail sander (again not necessary but helped quickly sand the smaller areas)
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Top coat like polyurethane or poly acrylic
  • Primer
  • Paint

1) Sand. You will need to lightly sand everything, even if you are painting. I hand sanded the areas I was painting, but used my power sander on the areas I wanted to stain. For any area you plan to stain, you need to remove the existing varnish and stain. If you don't get down to bare wood, your new stain will look blotchy.

Below you can see where the spindles are lightly sanded compared to the handrail that is completely sanded (lighter wood).

2) Wipe it down. You need to remove all dust particles and debris with a very slightly damp cloth or a tack cloth.

3) Stain. We wanted our banisters and stair treads (I'll likely post on how we installed the new stair treads later) to match our flooring so we took a floor sample to Sherwin Williams to have them stain match the color. I used a foam brush to apply the stain. Because I wanted it dark, I let it sit for a few minutes then wiped off the excess with a rag. The banisters needed only one coat of stain. Make sure you always apply and wipe off excess stain in the direction of the wood grain.

4) Prime. I waited to prime the spindles until after I stained the posts and handrail because I didn't want to repaint any areas that stain may have dripped on. I put on two thin coats of primer.

5) Paint. Apply thin coats of paint. It took two to three coats. I applied it with my go-to brush, Premium XL Polyester Tight Spots found at SW.

6) Apply top coat. I then used polycrylic to seal and protect the stain. You could certainly use polyurethane which is a bit cheaper, but I've found polycrylic a little easier to work with. I applied one coat then lightly sanded, with very fine grit sand paper. I then wiped it down and applied a couple more coats. I didn't worry about sealing the white paint because I wanted to be able to touch it up later if needed. 

Here are the products I used:

Primer: Zinsser, Bullseye 1.2.3 primer
Paint: Behr Premium Plus, Ultra Pure White--right off the shelf, not tinted.
Stain: Sherwin Williams--stain matched
Top coat:  Minwax, water-based polycrylic




  1. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this! I can't believe how AMAZING this looks! I can't wait to do mine!!!

  2. This looks GREAT! I'm so ready to try this in our house :)

  3. Just stunning! I love your blog and your style, thanks for posting!

  4. Wow it's beautiful! Huge improvement! Good for you that.

  5. This is seriously gorgeous! Congratulations! I would be walking on air. :)

    Found you through Dwell on Joy, btw. Nice to "meet" you!

  6. Beautiful job! I think I will follow this blog!! good stuff here!!!


  7. do you know what stain color sherwin williams calls the stain they matched. I have the same floors and am looking to do something similar?

  8. This is great! You have the exact same layout as our place and this was totally helpful. :)

  9. I am stunned by the dramatic difference your improvements have made! Unbelievably gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this. I will be doing this to my staircase!

  10. This looks wonderful! What a great blog you have:)

  11. This looks great! I have 2 questions. Do you have trim or how did you do the banister lining up with the wall part? It's difficult to see in the picture. I hope you know what I mean as I am trying to figure out what to do with my half wall where the stair railing does. (recently cut down the wall to open the space up) Also, any idea where the starting newel came from? The only ones I can find are very large monstrous things. Thanks!