Stair Railing Update

Here’s our stair rail.  Not the best, yet far from the worst. Again, this is just another piece of 1980’s builders grade material that plagues our house. I’ve been drooling over some updated railings I’ve seen circulating the internet. So I decided to give it a much needed welcome into the new millennium.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sander
  • Wood finish remover
  • White semi-gloss paint
  • Wood stain of your choosing, I chose Kona
  • Scraper
  • Painters tape
  • Old sheet (this will never go on a bed again)
  • Old dish towel (this will never clean dishes again)

Eventually we’ll be removing the carpet and doing wood stairs, but until that happens I wanted to protect the carpet so I won’t have to look at stains incase that project gets pushed back.

Use the painters tape to tape around the spindles and cover the carpet. I had a little helper for this step 🙂

Then take the old sheet and pull it through each spoke. The tape is for the white paint, the sheet is to protect the carpet against the wood stain.

(This sheet was on my bed in college. But it has been given a different purpose in it’s new life here at the Halle House. It has been a part of every project we’ve ever done. There’s 5 different colors of stain on it and probably 4 different colors of paint. When I said “this will never go on a bed again,” I sincerely meant that. Use one sheet that you can dedicate to all your DIY’s.)


Take your dish towel and cut it in half.

Use one half of the towel to apply the wood stain remover to the railing. WEAR GLOVES. This stuff is no joke. If you have a paper cut and get this in there, you will feel the death of a million bee stings in your hand.

The can says “apply liberally.” I thought that was a joke, like “lather, rise. Repeat.” It’s not. It will not remove the stain properly if you don’t slodge it on there (slodge might not be a word, but you know what I’m getting at). You will know when the finish is ready to be removed when it starts to bubble up. Give it about 5 mins.

Then scrape it off! Once you remove the finish, you can sand the rest of it down. Here’s what the railing looked like after the finish was removed and sanded. It’s not as dark and polished as it was before. It looks raw. Make sure the surface is smooth.

Note: When you’re sanding, move with the grain of the wood.


I vacuumed after I finished sanding. Wipe down the surface to remove any small dust particles. I also vacuumed the surface of the railing with the vacuum attachment. I like things really clean 🙂

With the other half of your dish towel, apply the wood stain. Use latex gloves if you have some. Stain is incredibly annoying to remove from your skin.


Welcome to the new millennium, wood! Let that dry for a few hours before you start painting the spindles. It’s better to work when the stain is tacky and not wet. It will take a full 42 hours for the stain to completely dry. An oscillating fan will speed up the process.

This part is pretty straight forward… paint the rest white.

Here’s the finished product!


I’m going to paint that back wall tomorrow eventually.


  1. Looks great! Small things can make such a huge difference. What are the plans for the stairs? That will really make it all a piece of art. Nicely done.

  2. I like that you did it a little different than every other railing makeover you see, with two high-contrasting colors!! And you should have taken an after picture with your helper since he now is color coordinated with the railing! Did you get your inspiration from his cute nose? And, that little helper’s nose looks like that of a pit bull to me!!! They are always excellent helpers…on my projects too!

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