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Before and After of Painting a Banister

Not sure if you saw my 10 Reasons on Why You Should Paint Your Banister post, if you didn't, click here.

Today, I'm ready to show you how I painted my banister.

First, I should say that we all survived the whole ordeal. You may have had doubts reading my 10 Reasons post?
Next, I should tell you that this story does have a happy ending.  It turned out gorgeous and it was well worth the effort...and I believe, it turned into a focal point of selling our home!

Alright, let's get started with a before picture.

Solid wood, maple, I believe...with a whitewashed, bleached out color.  This banister looked very dated and completely blended in with the wall color and carpet.  In a perfect world, I would have ripped out the carpet, put in hardwoods and replaced the entire banister and spindles with something much more modern...possibly iron.  That wasn't happening, so painting was my only option.

The knobs on the banister had the most wear.  It was quite embarrassing, I mean this is the first thing you see walking in the house!  Disgusting!

So let's get started.
1st Step:  Taping
Applying painter's tape between every single spindle was a tedious task.  I wanted to protect the carpet and I did protect most of it, but it was not easy.  I went through a ton of tape!

2nd Step:  Stripping

This stripping gel almost killed us!  It said it had no harsh fumes, but my family totally disagreed!  Tons and tons of complaining!  I had to leave all the windows and doors open in January.  It was quite easy to brush on, but not so easy to sand off.

Step 3:  Sanding

Sanding and more sanding and more sanding.  I've never sanded so much in my life!
I did try to use an electric sander, but it didn't really work on all the curves and edges, so hand sanding is what I had to do.  I used sanding blocks, but mostly just sheets and sheets of sandpaper.

What a horrible job!  Dust everywhere, EVERYWHERE!  So time consuming! 

This is when I kept asking myself..."What have I done?"  "What was I thinking?"  "Am I crazy?"  Yes!  (At one point I started naming each spindle.  I was spending so much time on each one, we had some how became friends.)

There was no stopping now, but I did have to stop.
I was hosting a birthday party and company was coming, and I was no where near finished!  I couldn't leave my house looking like a construction zone...I had to clean up my mess and leave the project unfinished.  Ugh.

Step 4:  More Sanding
It was so painfully hard to keep going, I had lost steam by having to stop in the middle.  I just wanted this stairway done!  I had read stories online of others finishing this project in a week-end.  One week-end?  Really?  No way!  I was on week 3? or was it 4, no 5?!
(Don't ever believe those one week-end projects!)

Finally, the sanding was completed!  The orange stripping gel was all sanding off.  The spindles and banister were down to the raw wood.  (Or at least it was done according to my standards.)

Step 5:  Dusting, Vacuuming, Cleaning

The dusting part wasn't too bad.  I vacuumed up everything I possibly could.  I then tried using tack cloths, but apparently I don't have the right touch?  They turned into a sticky, messy, waded up ball.  Want to know what did work?  Baby wipes.  I love baby wipes.  I wiped down every nook and cranny and edge I could find.  I re-vacuumed and did my best to get the area dust-free.

Step 6:  Staining and Painting

After everything was as clean as I could possibly get it, it was time to paint!  Yay! My favorite part!  I was so ready to see some progress!  I started with painting the railing first, then the spindles. 
I used Minwax PolyShade Stain in a Classic Black.
I was so nervous that I made a bad choice, but it was perfect!
I did have to use some tiny brushes to get the stain on the underside of the railing and around the spindles.  It wasn't a perfect job, but it worked.  I was so happy!

I did have to be a bit careful to look for drips and to make sure that no bristles were left behind.
I did three coats-- yep, it took a while.

The white spindles were painted with a basic white gloss paint.  I did three coats of the white as well.  They actually could have used another coat or two, but I wasn't going there!  I was done. Done!
(By the way, painting a round object, is not fun!  Drips, drips and more drips! Slow painting is the key plus constant looking all around the spindle for drips!) 

This is a fake smile.

Are you ready to see the after pictures?  Of course you are!!

Step 7:  Stand back, admire and enjoy!

Look at it shine!  Look at those knobs! My family was amazed!

The glossy stain had just a hint of the wood grain showing through, it looked so good!
I couldn't believe my eyes!  What a difference a painted banister makes!  Why didn't I do this sooner?
(Isn't that what everyone says once the project is done?)
Our realtor even highlighted the staircase in the home pictures.  I know that wouldn't have happened, if I hadn't painted it!

**Side note:  If I had to do it again, and didn't have carpet to worry about...I'd probably paint the spindles black as well.  Hopefully, I'll never have to paint a banister and spindles again! 

Click here to see our staged home.

The Idea Room


  1. Wow! What a transformation! Stripping and sanding are hard work, but your work definitely paid off big time.

  2. Wow, it turned out stunning! I had considered doing this to our banisters in our old house but I had an inkling it I would want to murder myself halfway through the project. Kudos to you for chugging along!!

  3. I love how you named every spindle! An adorable way to get through such a huge project! ❤️