Home Improvement Projects

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 3 – Done!


Done! This was a big project but it’s finally done. And I have to say I am very happy with the way it turned out! It was time consuming and a bit frustrating at times, but what a change! Here is the before and after pictures. (I added links to the first 2 posts at the end of this post)

Once the gel stain was on and I finished with 2 coats of polyurethane, I started on the spindles. Taping the spindles off was the time consuming part. I used A LOT of tape. But to get a really clean look it was necessary. Spend the time on this, it’s worth it.


I painted the spindles Annie Sloan Pure White and finished them with polyurethane as well so everything had the same finish. Be sure to use a top coat that won’t yellow the chalk paint. I used General Finishes High Performance Water based topcoat.

Now that it’s done I can say the hardest part was the time it took. Don’t plan on this being a quick project. But as long as you take the time to tape everything off and be sure to layer thin coats of stain as well as paint you will be happy with the results. I really am amazed at how different it looks. And I absolutely love it!

Let me know what you think. If you have any questions about how I refinished my stair railing please ask.

Thanks for taking a look


Here are links to the first 2 posts in this series

Painting and staining our stair railing Part 1

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 2

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 2

Remember all my complaining about sanding in my last post. I do! And here’s a little more complaining! 😛 haha I sanded for what felt like forever. I used sand paper as well as sanding tools (that’s plural). I sanded so much my thumbprint disappeared and I couldn’t open my iphone with my thumbprint anymore. 😉 Here’s my proof!


I took it down to the bare wood and removed the stain that was there so the new stain would show through. I mixed the 2 colors of General Finishes Gel Stain: Nutmeg and Grey to get the color I wanted.

It mixed really well and I am happy with the color. After a few hours of sanding, Ugh, I put the stain on and let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped off the excess. And that is when I realized that this method wasn’t going to work. The stain worked great on approximately 90% of the area but the small crevices and area’s that are most difficult to sand were not taking the stain. It wiped right off leaving an uneven coverage of the stain. When I tried to sand deeper to get in those small area’s I was taking too much of the wood off and changing the shape of the railings. Time to try something different. One of the reasons I decided to use the General Finishes Gel Stain is because you can apply it like paint and leave it on to dry. So that’s what I did. This makes the stain much darker and you see much less of the pretty wood grain. But at this point I felt it was the best way to go.


The great thing about this method is….you guessed it…NO SANDING!!! Woohoo! I brushed a thin coat of stain on and let it dry for about 12-24 hours. It will be sticky at first and the second coat goes on much better if the first coat is dry. 2 coats were needed because it doesn’t look even with just one. Once the second coat is on you can still see the wood grain but the stain is pretty dark so you don’t get a “stained wood” look. It is more of a painted look. But the stain goes on thinner than paint so it still has a look of stained wood. I wanted the other look but I will say now that 2 coats of stain are on and dry I really like it and am excited about the outcome. Here it is after a day of letting it dry.

As you can see from the close up picture you can still see the wood grain. And once I paint the spindles white I think it will look amazing!! I will be adding a coat of General Finishes top coat to seal it and once that’s dry, I will start on the spindles.

I few tips when applying the stain: Tape off and use a drop cloth where ever you will be staining. Wear gloves because this will stain your skin. I used a foam brush like the one in the above picture, most of the time it was the smaller thin size foam brush. That helped get into the small places. Brush with the grain of the wood. Do a thin coat to get a smooth look and then do a second thin coat to get an even look. Remember to let the first coat dry completely before applying the second coat or you won’t get an even look to the finish.

This has been a learning experience for me and I am sure there are other ways to tackle a stair railing. But once I decided to apply the stain and leave it to dry this project became much easier. Still time consuming and I’m not even done yet, but easier. Let me know if you have any questions. I will be happy to tell you more about my experience. I will come back and show you pictures of the finished product as soon as it’s done.

Thanks for taking a look,


here are links to part 1&3

Painting and staining our stair railing Part 1

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 3  Done!


Painting and staining our stair railing Part 1

Ok! So I’m just going to start off by saying I am super excited and completely dreading this project. For about 2 years I have been saying I am going to redo the stair railing in our entry way. I have pinned countless pictures on Pinterest in hopes that it would get me motivated to start this project. It’s not that I didn’t know what I wanted, because I know exactly what I want my stair railing to look like. So what is it that’s been stopping me you ask?


That’s right – sanding. If you have read any of my posts or talked to me about painting furniture, one of the first things you will hear me say is I hate sanding. Thus – Chalk Paint!! No sanding! But for all of my searching I haven’t found a wood stain that doesn’t require at least some sanding. So….bring it on! Ugh! But really it needs to be done. And here is why.

When we moved into our home 12 years ago all the wood in our home was this yellow oak. The floor, the kitchen cabinets and the stair railing were all this color. When we moved in I was fine with it. It was not my favorite but I liked it enough to not pay the big upgrade prices to have a different wood and stain color. About 2 years ago that changed and it has been my goal to eradicate this color of wood from my home. Every time I walk through the front door I am reminded that I haven’t done that yet! 😉 But that’s about to change.

I haven’t really done much wood staining. I have read up on the different types of stain, and lots of people seem to like gel stain, so I’m going with that. The store I have my booth in, Drab 2 Fab in Lehi, sells General Finishes Gel Stain. So I bought some and tried it out on a piece of furniture. It really is easy to use and I loved the results. I will be staining next to carpet so I am a little worried about the stain getting on the carpet. Gel stain isn’t runny and is a bit less messy so that makes me feel a little better about staining around the carpet. We will see if I can keep from spilling it as I go! heehee Fingers crossed. I will be painting the spindles white. The balusters, the railing and whatever that part is called at the bottom of the spindles will be sanded down and stained. Unless I start to go crazy and then maybe just the balusters and the railing will get stained and the rest painted. Or I will ruin the whole thing and we will have to pay big bucks to have someone come in and redo the whole thing. Praying it’s not that last option! 😉


We had our floor redone almost 2 years ago and we went with a custom color that was a medium brown with a touch of grey to match the grey walls. I don’t expect to match it perfectly, and I’m ok with it not matching exactly, but I am going to mix 2 colors to get the same brown/grey color. So I am going with General Finishes Nutmeg and Grey. I will mix them 1:1 to make it easy on myself. 😉 I actually already tried it out on a small area at the top of the stairs to see what it would look like. Here is the results so far.


I like the color and once I sanded down enough to get the stain to take it was pretty easy. Not going to lie, I tried to lightly sand and see if the stain would go through the finish but it didn’t. They put a good thick glossy coat over the stain when it was originally done. So I have loads of sanding to look forward to. Blah! 😛 I will do my best to endure it! Otherwise I will be living with this orangy/yellow color forever.

I will do updates and complain profusely as this project goes forward! 😉 If you have any words of wisdom or encouragement I would LOVE to hear them!! Tell me about your experience and how it turned out. And come back to see the results.

Thanks for taking a look. Hope to hear from you!


Links to part 2&3

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 2

Painting and Staining our stair railing part 3  Done!