How to Paint Stair Railings

If you’ve had enough with your old stair railings, why not give a fresh coat of paint a try!

Painting old stair railings and balusters (also known as spindles) is one of the most cost-effective ways to modernize the look of an otherwise bland stairway and can significantly improve the look and feel of your space.

Plus, with so many gorgeous stair railing paint ideas out there, you’ll be dreaming of bringing your favorite stair railing paint idea to life in your own home!

Painting Stair Rails & Balusters?
Here’s What You’ll Need…

Today, we’ll walk you through the project of painting stair rails, from how to paint stair spindles based on their shape, to the expert tips on how to make the job go smoothly.

Rachel from Craving Some Creativity depicts in her staircase DIY project the dramatic difference a fresh coat of paint can make on your stair railings and spindles.

Supplies for Painting Stair Rails & Balusters
  • 320-400 grit sanding sponges (get a few!)

  • Large Surface Brush for railings, Detail Brushes for spindles (see “choosing the right brushes”)

  • Foam roller (optional, see “choosing the right brushes”)

  • Deglosser (If railings or spindles have clear coat/varnish)

  • Degreaser (Dawn dish soap will do!)

  • Microfiber or tack cloth

  • Stainblocking primer (unless using a paint & primer in one)

  • Painting Accessories- drop cloths & painting apron

  • Painter’s tape (optional)

  • Paint (personal preference)

Choosing The Right Brushes

Even if you are painting the railings and spindles the same color, it is best to use the right paintbrushes specific to each application. 

For instance, a Large Surface Paintbrush like the Zibra Trim Paintbrush is an angled paintbrush ideal for painting flat and trim or trim-like surfaces. This brush will cover more evenly than a foam roller, which typically requires you to follow up with an angled brush for touch ups anyway. This isn’t to say you can’t use a foam roller too, but just know you’ll need to touch up any grooves or curved surfaces with an angled brush.

If your stair rails have any sort of detailing to them, the Trim Paintbrush will work much better than a foam roller.

Now, about those balusters and spindles. Learning how to paint stair spindles takes patience and the right brushes, and trust us when we tell you that using a Detail Brush designed for the shape of your balusters will save you a lot of time and heartache!

Painting Spindles With Round, Curved, or Ornate Details

If you’re painting round or curved spindles, or spindles with ornate details, a flat or angled brush just isn’t going to cut it. Our Round Brush, however, was created specifically for applying long, smooth runs of paint on curved surfaces, spindles, and ornate detail work.

Zibra’s Round Paintbrush in action!

Painting Square Balusters

Have square balusters to paint? Our Square Paintbrush will make quick work of this paint job! Designed with a 1” square head, this detail brush was born to paint flat ledges and narrow surfaces. Or, check out our Paintbrush Kits to get your hands on the best brushes for every job in one complementary canvas tote, like the Best of Zibra Paint Brush Kit

Zibra’s Square Paintbrush works wonders on flat surfaces like square balusters, narrow molding and ledges!

Need brushes today? Just visit your local Home Depot, or search local retailers to find the closest Zibra retailer to you!
Great for detail work
Square Paintbrush
Great for detail work
Round Paintbrush
How to Paint Stair Railings & Balusters in 4 Easy Steps
Step 1: Clean & Prep
For the smoothest finish possible, clean your railings and balusters with a degreaser and tack cloth or microfiber cloth. Dawn dish soap and warm water works fine, and can also be used to Clean Your Paintbrushes when you’re done painting. Win-win! Make sure to wipe clean and allow to dry before moving on to step 2.If your railings or balusters have a sealer or varnish, a liquid deglosser may be a good idea. Otherwise, your paint might not stick as well and be more prone to chipping.
Step 2: Sand
Step 3: Tape off Walls, Spindles, Etc.
Step 4: Prime & Paint
Pro Painting Tips for Best Results

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