Picnik collage
I couldn’t stand to look at my oak banister one more day.  During our Spring Break, I decided I would paint it  “real fast!” 
I don’t know about you, but every project I do, it seems to take more time than I ever thought it would!  This one was definitely  worth it though!!   Originally, I thought about painting it all white, but I know how many people go up and down our stairs.  I also know how much of a clean freak I am and wouldn’t be able to rest if I saw finger prints.  I decided to stain the banister and paint the spindles.
For those of you that  want to paint your railing, I will try to break down each step.
  • The first thing I did was clean all the wood.
  • Next, I sanded.  This took the longest.  It took hours and hours!  At this point I looked around my house and saw all the dust from the sander and decided I was crazy for tackling this project.
  • After I sanded, then I stained the banister. You will want to stain first.    I added about 3 coats to get complete coverage.   I used Miniwax in Ebony, since that is what I had on hand from my  coffee table makeover.  You will want to make sure you wait for each coat of stain to dry before adding the next coat.
  • After the stain was applied, I primed the spindles. I used Kilz Premium.  I love how it covers.   Originally,  I wanted to paint the posts white, but once I got the primer on it, I didn’t like the white with the dark banister.  Not good!  I had to strip all the paint off of the post.  I’ve decided that stripping paint isn’t much fun!  After all the paint was stripped, I stained the posts.
  • I added 2 coats of primer.  I didn’t want to tape any of my newly  stained parts so I used an artists paint brush and painted very carefully around the top of the spindles.
  • After the primer is dry, you can paint.  I painted 2 coats.
  • I added polyurethane to the stained areas for added protection.  Do not add it to the white.  It will turn the white yellow.


I love how it turned out!

33 Responses to Painting our banister

  1. WOW! what a difference! it looks awesome!

  2. Your banister turned out beautiful. I agree with you that a white rail would drive me crazy with fingerprints! Your home is lovely.

    Have a lovely week!

  3. Colleen says:

    Stunning! This is exactly what I want to do, but my spindles go straight into carpet, it will be tricky to paint there but I’ll manage when I do. You can use Minwax Polycrylic over the white paint, it doesn’t go yellow, hope it helps someone!

  4. SO pretty! I’m featuring your staircase in the PoPP Spotlight this weekend. Thanks for linking up!

  5. Katie says:

    I looks great Kim!! :)

  6. Looks beautiful! Did you already have a sander or did you buy one? Would you recommend a sander or sand paper? Hope to get my project underway next month! :)

  7. If you sanded the bannister why did you have to wash it first???

  8. cindy says:

    hi there, I’m tackling this project now. I just started priming my spindles. Question for you….did your spindles retain the natural wood grain or did you get that to go away with the paint?


    • admin says:

      Hi Cindy!
      Thank you for stopping by! The wood grain went away with my priming and painting. I used Sherwin Williams paint which is a thicker paint than most, so it covered the spindles really well. I hope that helps. Good luck with your project! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  9. Melissa says:

    I love your wall color. Do you know the name and brand?

  10. Ashley says:

    Just wondering what finish of white you used on your spindles? I’m thinking semi-gloss or maybe eggshell? Looks great!

    • Kim says:

      Hi Ashley,
      I used Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint in the gloss finish. I’m still very pleased with how well this paint has held up. Thank you for stopping by! :)

  11. Mimi says:

    Hi Kim, It turned out gorgeous! Did you sand down only the banisters and just prime and paint the spindles and base? You are soooo making me want to do this at my house.

    • Kim says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! Yes, I lightly sanded to get the shine off from the previous stain. I primed the spindles and painted them. I sanded and stained the banister. Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. You should TOTALLY do it….I’m so glad I did!!!!

  12. Eric says:

    Looks great, I wamt to do the same for my new place.

  13. Tracy says:

    Hi Kim- this looks great… I have been debating refinishing my handles in black. My spindles are already white. Maybe I will work up the nerve to do it. :) How difficult was the staining part??

    • Kim says:

      The staining was sooooo easy! Just do it! The worst that could happen is you will need to repaint. But I’m sure you will love it. :)

  14. Ashley says:

    Hi. I am thinking of doing this. What kind of paint did you use on the banister? A semi gloss or just stain?? Thank you! It looks great!

    • Kim says:

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment. You totally should paint your banister! I LOVE mine! I just semi-gloss paint on the spindles and a stain on the banister. Good luck!

  15. Shauna says:

    You are a ray of hope!! We have added a largish addition on to our home , all of the old woodwork is you guessed it golden oak circa 1990’s. we are faced with the dilemma of replacing all our doors and jams, casings banister and spindle,or finding a way to make it work and keep costs down. The annoying part is the new part needs all new casings and we ould have to out in more golden oak to tie it in, I don’t dislike oak , i love wood grain, it is just a bit too orange for me now.

    Do you know if your wood had varnish or polyurethane? If I understood right you primed right over the spindles, without sanding them? Why did you not opt to do the same for the newel post and railing? We have refinished lots of furniture over the years but the spindles are giving me pause with all their curves and bevels.


    • Kim says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the wood had a type of varnish, but I’m not sure which one. I primed the spindles without sanding because it would have been difficult to get my electric sander between the rails. The bevels would have been difficult to sand. I also redid my kitchen and barely sanded the cabinets. I mainly scrubbed them with cleaner. The reason I didn’t prime and paint the banister is because I wanted the darker look and thought it would be achieved better with the stain. After several years, they are both holding up beautifully! Good luck with your project.

  16. Shannon says:

    It looks great. I want to do the same thing and see you had to paint your spindles, I would have to do that too. Did you think about spraying them (crazy mess, I imagine) or was painting not as bad as I think it might be?? I have a huge staircase with a catwalk and while I want to do this so bad, I am a little scared by all the work…

  17. Brenda says:

    I am redoing my banister and came across your pic which looks great. My question is I just put the stain on the banister which I bought ebony, and I used a light hand but it’s not coming out as dark as yours. Do I need to stain more than one hand to get it that dark?

  18. Arnold says:

    Well, it is good to know that others out there are also getting a bee in their bonnets about honey coloured oak spindles.
    I went a different route. I bought 89 new square shaped spindles with corner flutes to make it look more modern and primed them with white oil based paint. I lined them all up on the floor and painted them with a roller, rotating them after each coat dried. Now, I am wondering if and how to sand them roughly for the semi-gloss final coats. I used Benjamin Moore OC 63 Winter Snow which worked out amazingly on the trim for the rest of the house.

    Any ideas? Also, it will be tricky to bulk paint the spindles again for the final coat and prevent drops of paint from running down the sides. I have stained the bannister and base pieces in an espresso colour to keep the grain, but I am worried about spilling paint on them once they are in place…

  19. Choloe Young says:

    I would like to paint my spindles and bannister also. I was told that instead of sanding. I could use B.I.N. If your not familiar with it. It is a very light transparent stain that when applied it works the same as if you sanded it. Used on vanity. works awesome! I was wondering. What kind of paint you used. Not brand, but semi-gloss, velvet, gloss, satin etc! your house is lovely and you did a great job on your stairs.

  20. […] Painting our banister – simply domestic […]

  21. amy says:

    I have a white bannister. I wanted to update it so I wanted to leave the spindles white and paint the post and top railing black. Just like yours. I started on it lastnight and I feel like I’m in over my head!! The first thing is the black is oil based. This is what home depot told me to get. It is crazy shiny!! I feel like I used the wrong paint! I see that you used satin for the black? Is that right? I thought using a latex paint would just come right off?? My question is should I of not used oil based paint and if so, should I of sanded the white paint before putting on a blak latex paint? Thank you for your help!

    • Kim says:

      Oil based is just fine to use. It will actually probably last longer than latex paint. The only problem with oil base is that it is very messy, in my opinion. I actually used a stain on mine and it is shiny in person. If you are painting oil base over latex, you don’t need to sand or prime. Remember, it is just paint. You can always redo it if you aren’t happy. Feel free to email me directly if you have any more questions. Good luck!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>