Under $100 Banister Refresh

I want to start off this post by stating some facts; I am not handy. I am impatient, impulsive, and often disasterous in my quest for home improvement. When I was in middle school, I helped my parents paint their investment property. I spilled an entire tray of paint all over myself and the drop cloth. Oops. What I do have is great visions. I have become really good at hiring the right people to execute these ideas I often have. That being said, when we moved into our house, Ben and I both agreed we would make more of an effort to do stuff on our own. Not only is it extremely gratifying, but also a big cost-saver.

So, without further adieu, I give you- ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Refreshing a Banister’…

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Before- all oak banister. It runs right through my office, and this staircase leads to our attic

Day One: Complete Steps 1&2

Step 1: Tape off your work space

I used plastic drop clothes that I taped to the floor. I always find the plastic clothes really annoying to use, but I knew it was crucial to protect the floors since I am a very messy painter. I taped off the bottom of the spindles right away and made sure the tape protected the floor completely. *I taped off the top of the spindles later in the process.

Step 2: Sand and Clean

This could be the most important step. I used a sanding block to sand it by hand. Our banister had a very thick layer of polyeurthane on it. I needed to make sure it was completely sanded off. I used mineral oil to clean the area after sanding. After applying the mineral oil, I made sure to wipe it off entirely so that the banister was clean.

Step 2: Apply Stain

I used a Minwax Wood Stain in Ebony. I would have preferred to use a Minwax Gel Stain, but my local paint store didn’t have any in stock. As I mentioned above, I am impatient. I wasn’t keen on the idea of waiting two weeks for a new shipment. A half-pint was more than enough to complete the job. I used a small sponge brush to apply the stain. It is important to dry your brush before trying to stain with it. A little bit of stain goes a very long way. Be sure to allow the stain time to dry- several hours. The directions say to wipe off the stain. I didn’t do that, because I wanted to achieve the darkest look possible. You can also choose to apply another coat of stain once the first coat is dry.

Day Two (Morning)- Complete Step 3

Step 3: Apply protective coat over stain

I used a polyeurthane similar to the one linked here. I applied a light coat using a sponge brush. As soon you apply it, you’ll see the stain start to shine a little more. This coat protects the wood and the stain. I let it dry for about 4 hours before moving on to the spindles.

Day Two (Evening)- Complete Steps 4-6

Step 4: Tape the spindles

During this step, I used painter’s tape to tape off the top of the spindles at the top. I also checked the bottom tape to make sure it was still in tact. Be careful not to press the tape too hard to the newly stained area. I had no issues with the stain peeling off, but I was extra careful when taping. Ideally, I should have waited a few days between these steps.

Step 5: Prime the spindles

I applied the primer using a sponge brush. It went on easily and dried quickly. I only let it dry for about an hour. (Are you seeing a trend with my impulsiveness when completing projects?)

Step 6: Paint the spindles

I ended up using a small rolling brush to do the spindles after observing our painter use this method for the spindles on our front porch. I was surprised how much easier it was to paint evenly. I used a semigloss paint.

I let everything dry for another full day before removing the remaining painting tape. I am so happy with how it turned out. This banister runs right through the middle of my office space and leads to our finished attic. It isn’t exactly a focal point in our home, but I have to see it everyday that I am working from my home office. To me, the all oak-colored banister just screamed 1997. I love the updated feel of the ebony and white and feel like it compliments the stairs just fine.

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