DIY Stair Painting

COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing precautions have kept everyone in place for months now compared to the normal hustle and bustle we are typically accustomed to.  A lot of homeowners have jumped on the opportunity to complete some much-needed DIY home improvement projects, because well, why not?  The projects that we’ve been pushing to the back of our minds for months or years now keep glaring at us as if saying…” Pick me, pick me!”  So, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share a few of my own home improvement projects that I’ve taken on since we moved into our home last summer.

DIY Project #1: Updating stair rails with paint

When we purchased the home, we knew it had a layout that worked well for our family and was generally in great shape, but it was definitely in need of some updates.  First, we installed new wood-look porcelain tile throughout the 1st floor and upstairs bathrooms along with new taller baseboards throughout.  Next, we discussed new paint and carpet.  As the house took on a more contemporary look, the remaining original maple colored stair rails now stood out glaringly in the entry hall.  Professional painting and staining was a much more costly than I had anticipated and fully replacing and updating the posts and spindles was entirely out of the question cost-wise. (There are a LOT of spindles! See below).

After combing through Pinterest and some home improvement store products, I looked at my husband and firmly told him I could do it myself for much less, no big deal! Ha.  Over the next 2-3 weeks, I could be found paint brush in hand and a glass of wine close by after the kids went to bed working on my “project”.

Since I could not replace the spindles to a more modern style, I knew I wanted to at least update the posts by changing out the round finial caps.  I found an inexpensive solution for this on Amazon HERE!.  We used a hand saw to remove the original post cap at the base and then sanded it to make it a level surface.

Next, I finished prepping by lightly sanding the rest of the rails and spindles to prepare for painting.  I found it easier to wrap a piece of sandpaper around each spindle rather than using a block to quickly get around the most surface area.  I then used a regular sanding block for the handrails.

It took some trial and error to decide which type and size of brush worked best based on other blog recommendations. I ended up with a 1” angled brush HERE.  For paint, I chose Home Depot’s Behr Marquee 1-coat coverage paint in a semi-gloss finish to stand up to the wear and tear of hands running up & down the surfaces.  I decided on white spindles with dark gray as an accent for the handrails and posts.

It took more than 1 coat of the white paint to cover the spindle surfaces and base rail well.  I likely should have sanded better prior, but oh well. The intricate turns of the spindles were challenging to keep the paint even and smooth.  There were multiple times I ended up with paint clumps on edges or where it dripped down a spindle and required sanding and repainting the area.  I improved on my technique as I went, but there was definitely a learning curve to it..

Once the white spindles were completed, I put painter’s tape around the top of each spindle and then applied the dark gray paint on the top rail and posts. It covered much better in nearly 1 coat, but was difficult to not bleed on to the white spindles, even with the tape. This was also a very detailed process and frequently required repainting in small sections. I also painted the new post caps dark gray before installing them, so I knew I would get the edges covered well before attaching.

Finally, it was time to glue on the new post caps! I used wood glue around the inside edge of the new cap and top of the post, placed the new post on top, made sure it was level, then held on firmly for 30” and it was done! Easiest part of the whole project...!








Well, long story short – this stair project took what seemed like forever with many glasses of wine consumed BUT, I completed it for <$100! And it looks great to top it off.  Now, on to the next project... 🙂

Details: Interior wall paint: SW Passive;  Trim color and white spindles: DE Igloo; Rail and posts: SW Grizzle Gray