Banister Makeover: Cheap and Much Easier Than I Thought It Would Be!

This is a project I've thought about over and over and finally bit the bullet and started. My goal is to paint all the trim in the house white. It's always scary taking on these big projects because you think "I'm gonna screw this up royally and end up paying more money to fix it back how it originally was." 

I assure you ---- I am in NO WAY a pro at home remodeling or even painting. In fact, every single time I start painting a room I regret it about 5 minutes into the project wishing I never started. I HATE painting. I love the idea of it, getting the supplies for it, and the end result. I just wish I could skip over the actual work of it.

I screw up a lot which is why this project intimidated me so much BUT I did it. Totally alone. I didn't screw up (much). Anyone can do this with the right tools and patience.

Project time: It took me about a week to finish this. A normal person could do it in a weekend I'm sure. I just had a lot going on having a 3 year old, an almost 2 year old, being a full time student, and my husband out of town the entire time so my plate was pretty full.

Cost: About $50


General Finishes JQ Gel Stain, 1 quart, Java Note: You can't buy this at Home Depot or Menards. If you have a woodworking store near you they may carry it but the Amazon site is cheaper. 
Don't use any other brand! This is the best. Also, a quart is WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH. 

Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-Inch I never paint without these brushes. They are absolutely the BEST for trim. 


Sand the wood. No need to sand all the finish off, just the glossy top coat. I used my hand sander but this could be done by hand using a grit of 80-120. I love this hand sander so much! And it's cheap. It'll really speed up the process for you. Sanding the details on the spindles will require you to do it by hand but this made sanding the bases by the stairs much faster.

Wipe down everything with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

I started painting the whites on the sides first next to the carpet because again, I was still too scared to start this project. Especially alone.

I love the Frog Green Tape as opposed to the Scotch Blue stuff. I feel like it protects much better. Tip: Run a credit card or rewards card along the edges to really seal it shut. I pressed the tape into the edges of the carpet so it didn't get on it. Worked perfectly. No drips.

One coat. Tip: When you're between coats, wrap your brush in tin foil to keep it from drying out.

When you take the tape off you may pull some paint with it. Also, depending on the age of your house there may be some cracks between the wall and trim. My house is only 7 years old and I had some gaps already. (Forgive the lighting. I did a lot of the work at night when the kids were sleeping so I had no natural lighting.) 

Caulking is very important.

I'll repeat that.


It just cleans everything up so nicely.

Some before angles of the stairs after sanding before beginning.

Patch up any holes. I recently took the baby gates down (yes!!!!!) and had some repairs to fill and sand before beginning.

Alright. Start with your gel stain. I didn't tape off the spindles because painting white over an accidentally stained section is so much easier than fixing the stain by dripping white paint on it. 

You will apply one thin layer using a sponge brush then wiping it clean with an old t-shirt or old sock. Don't use a new sock, too much lint. Wiping it will help spread it out and get rid of any bumpy drips. 

You might IMMEDIATELY regret what you just did and have a panic attack but it's okay, a few more coats and it'll shock you!

Notice I didn't tape off the spindles because it's much easier to paint over something that has been accidentally stained rather than the other way around. 

Sidebar: From reviews I read it said to wear gloves and keep the windows open. I got some stain on my hands but it washed out after a couple days. I didn't like wearing the gloves so I said screw it. I didn't think the smell was all that bad either. Again, preferences. Maybe wait to do this if you have a sensitive nose and choose to do this project in Minnesota on a February day. 

After two coats you'll see the darkness come through and that light wood color fade. 

After three coats: 

Next I painted the spindles white. I taped off the stained wood a few days after allowing the stain to set. I did about 3 coats of white on each spindle. 

The After: 

Up next is of course to get the rest of the trim white to match the new staircase. The contrast of the yellow trim to the new stain is painfully obvious----- for now. 
I'll be painting the ugly yellow walls to a crisp white. 
There's usually a large mirror in our dining room but gets taken down during parties so I just haven't put it back up yet. The mirror used to be a gross brownish gold yellow color and I took it out back, taped off the mirror part and spray painted the frame a glossy black. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links. 

1 comment

SMD Favorites