This DIY home project will show you how update oak fixtures in your home decor
Our oak banister and handrail were the LAST (I think) piece of oak trim, molding, and cabinets left in our house. I knew I needed to come up with a DIY design and figure out how to paint the ugly oak railing. Okay, to be fair, there is some in the basement, but I like how it looks down there once we modernized parts of the molding and columns.
A theme in our blog and life is that one project always leads to another project. This was the case for the ugly oak banister and handrail. Because we were getting around to do a cheap DIY bathroom makeover upstairs, I knew we had to update the railing right outside the door.
What paint to use on a stair banister or stair railing?
At the time for our DIY painting project, we used Behr Latex Enamel and Sherwin Williams Proclassic line. However, we recently just discovered Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel paint. If I were painting my oak banister and railing today, I would be using this paint instead of the Proclassic or Behr latex enamel. The most important thing is to choose a paint that is meant for moldings or cabinets and make sure to properly prime and prep your stair railing.
You can see our cheap kitchen makeover and how we used this newer Sherwin Williams Emerald line to paint oak cabinets.
Why did we use Behr and Proclassic paint on the railing?
Honestly, we had leftover paint from the bathroom vanity painting to help with the two-toned banister look I was going for. I have seen banisters with more of a black or darker gray top and bottom. I knew I wanted ours to be a little different. Therefore we chose to use this colored latex enamel paint for the banister.
SW Proclassic in Pure White was our favorite white paint for kitchen cabinets and moldings before we discovered SW Emerald.
We have even painted our old oak mantel using these painting steps to help get rid of the honey oak and update our living room.
Read more: Check out 11 other DIY projects that helped us get rid of that honey oak!
So let’s get to it…
How to paint an oak banister to completely update your stairway (with video below)
White Enamel Latex Paint- SW Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel is now our favorite
White Latex Primer*
Latex Enamel Paint in the color of your choice-Here is the paint we used.
220 sandpaper or block
Deglosser- This large jug will last you for a lot of DIY projects.
Painter’s Tape-My favorite brand and type that I use for all of my project including my detailed accent walls
Paint Brush-I was so happy that I bought myself a new Purdy brush for this project.
Small Foam Roller (if you want)
Small Paint Tray Liners-these make life so much easier when doing smaller paint jobs
White Paintable Caulk (optional)
Drop cloth or old towels (something to protect your floor as your work)
*Some professional painters will recommend oil-based primers such as this one, as they do a better job blocking out color. However, we have always had great success with Sherwin Williams Latex Primer. I love that I don’t have to worry about the smell (esp. Because I was doing this painting project outside my children’s rooms as they were napping).
How to paint a stair railing to get rid of that honey oak
1. Lightly sand the oak banister and handrail with the 220. This is just to rough it up a little. You really do not need to spend a ton of time on this.
2. Use an old rag and wipe down the surface with a deglosser.
3. Start taping out to help protect your walls and flooring. You can see that I had to try to push my carpet down and get the painter’s tape under the edge of the banister’s base.
4. If you have some gaps or uneven spots in your woodwork, you may even want to use white caulk to give it a more finished looked after painting.
5. Use a brush and small roller to prime everything. This will take time. Let dry.
6. Begin painting primed railing white following the same steps as the primer. I was able to actually use the small foam roller on more parts of the railings than I initially thought.
7. You will need at least 2 coats of white enamel on the railings. I spent a few hours during the week to complete this project. You do not want to get lazy and have a ton of drips or start spraying paint around on your carpet, etc.
8. Once white railings are done and dry, begin to tape (use this brand) out the areas so you can have a darker outside.
HUGE PAINT PREP TIP ALERT!!!
I was pretty impressed with myself that I came up with this easy idea. I used Press and Seal around the railing that was closest to the side so that my colored enamel paint would not get on the railing if I accidentally hit the finished part. Just make sure that you completely cover the railing.
9. Using a roller and brush begin to put your first coat of colored enamel paint.
You will also need at least 2 coats. I think I ended up doing 3 coats with this paint, especially because I knew the surface would be touched a lot.
10. Let dry and remove tape. Some of my paint lines were not as clean as I would have liked. I used white caulk to try to help some of the lines (especially the bottom edge in that groove) and a smaller painter’s brush to do some touch-ups. I do not blame the painter’s tape, just that the railings have so many little grooves and uneven surfaces that is was hard to get everything perfect.
11. Clean your brushes and area and enjoy your updated banister.
It never gets old seeing a “before and after” DIY project pictures
Finished painted oak banister
I just love looking up the steps and seeing a fresh banister and look. While I would not say this was the easiest painting project, it definitely gives you a lot of bang for your buck. And now I can honestly say, bye bye to all the old oak items in our home. It is so crazy how just simply painting honey oak can really modernize your home without breaking the bank.
If you love this painted makeover, you have to see how our oak kitchen cabinets were redone!
Oak Handrail Makeover
Before DIY makeover
While I was painting the railing, I was also priming and painting the handrail that is on the other side of our steps.
We followed the same painting steps outline above and you can see how we were able to easily update our handrail as well.