How to Paint a Finished Wood Banister

Answered by Brett ~ April 5, 2010 ~ Comments

I would like to paint a finished wood banister in my Boulder, Colorado, residence. How would I go about doing that?

Cheryl L. ~ Boulder, Colorado

Brett Kulina

When you say "a finished wood banister", I am going to assume that the banister is currently covered with a Spar varnish or some other type of clear protective finish. As this finish would negatively effect the adhearance of new paint to the banister, it needs to be dealt with before you begin painting.

If the current finish on the banister is rough, peeling, or flaking you should remove the banister from the wall and strip or sand the existing finish off completely. Once the raw wood of the banister is smooth to the touch, apply 2 coats of paint. Using a quality paint that does not require a primer coat could save you some time.

If the existing finish on the banister is in good condition, you can probably avoid the extra work of stripping it down to bare wood. This situation is much easier and can be done with the banister in place (if you are a neat painter). Simply, scuff the surface of the finished banister with some sand paper and apply a coat of oil or acrylic primer to it. After the primer is dry, apply a single coat of fresh paint to the banister.

In either situation, I recommend using a paint with a glossy or semi-gloss sheen. Cleaning hand marks from the new banister will be much easier than if painted with a flat sheen finish.

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