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!



  1. Cindy,

    I feel you pain!

    Your house looks EXACTLY like my husband and mine…..honey stain oak EVERYWHERE..ick! We have looked to build a new home but prices are outrageous and we are not willing to spend more to get less. So, with that being said, we have decided to stay and update, upgrade and do it ourselves. I am thankful for coming across you on Pinterest because, guess what we are doing next….yep, you guessed it, our stairs! I have been researching Pinterest and this that, at first, I wanted to paint everything white. Then I thought, spindles white and railing oak…..never going to happen because I dislike oak with a vengeance! Then I thought, dark railing and bottom with white spindles and think that this may the look we are going for. The dark ties in with a few furniture & decor pieces we own, which would look awesome. So, thanks to you, your hard work and pictures, I believe that I will be moving forward with this look.
    I will definitely be cranking up the tunes with a possible cocktail along the way to keep my sanity! Do they make glass sanding covers?
    Thank you for your hard work and fantastic pictures.
    Paula G.

    1. Thanks for the nice comments. Glad you found this helpful. It was time consuming but I am still thrilled with the results and can say it was completely worth it. Every time I come down the stairs in the morning I smile a little. 😊 Good luck with your project!

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