Painting and Staining Older Stair Railings: Style, Options and Colors

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painted stairs and railings before and after

If you have a two-story home, you know how important the staircase is to your home’s appeal. This feature is often the focal point of the foyer, if not the whole house. Especially in older homes, it usually includes unique architectural details. How can you bring out the best of your staircase while maintaining its charm and appeal?

Many clients turn to us for help painting their older stair railings because it’s an intricate job, and we have the experience and know-how to do it right. But there are a variety of styles, options, and colors to consider when painting or staining an older staircase. Let’s talk through them.

Staircase Style

Does your home’s staircase have a unique curved banister? Or maybe it has ornate spindles with tons of details. Either way, it’s possible to paint or stain the banister and spindles the entire staircase a more up-to-date look.

If you don’t like the look of your spindles with your railing, or your spindles are out of style, consider replacing the spindles but painting or staining the banister and the treads/uprights. You’ll modernize your staircase while maintaining some of its original charm. Plus, you’ll save money.

Staircase Paint and Stain Options

There’s a lot you can do to bring your older staircase into a more modern light. One of the top updates we’re seeing is painting or staining the stair treads (the part of the stairs you walk on) and the uprights (the part of the stair next to the treads that faces out).

What kind of paint and stain options are we seeing from existing or past clients? We’ve seen dark stained wood stairs take on a stately look when the uprights are painted a bright white. We also love when clients go bold with their stair uprights, painting them in ombre tones, olive greens, charcoal or even red. Another trend we’re seeing is crisp white spindles paired with a painted black or stained brown banister. The contrast is sharp and eye-catching.

Despite all of your older stair railing paint options, remember that this job requires special attention to prep and detail. The essential prep work stages we follow are:

  • Taping
  • Tarping
  • Sanding
  • Repairing dings & dents
  • Back caulking joints & seams
  • Using the right primer
  • Using the proper paint sheen and material for durability

Painting spindles and banisters, especially in older homes, requires special care to keep the finish smooth and drip free. If any of these parts are painted sloppily or without care, it can ruin the look of the staircase.

Paint and Stain Colors

Your options are endless when it comes to choosing the right combination of colors for painting your stair railings. For synchronicity, match your banister and handrails to your baseboard trim and crown molding. Or for a classic yet modern look, try a soft black. For more of a bright, clean look, paint your handrails and banisters white.

If you’re only painting the railing, we recommend choosing a neutral color (such as black or dark brown) that will mesh well with the treads, spindles, and uprights. If you’re painting the entire staircase, consider a color combination like black and white. Paint the handrails and treads black, and the spindles and uprights white.

When painting stair treads, we suggest using darker colors.This part of the staircase gets a lot of foot traffic, so over time, the paint or stain will endure lots of wear and tear. Darker colors can cover up existing imperfections well and help hide dings and scratches that accumulate over the years.

Another option is to paint the entire staircase one color except for the treads. We’ve seen the finished product look particularly stunning when the banister, spindles and uprights are a light color, and the treads are painted dark.

Stair railings aren’t typically a place where clients go bold with bright pops of color, but depending on the look and style of your older staircase, the choice is yours. No matter what you decide, painting or staining your older home stair railing is sure to bring it to a new level of sophistication.

Professional Home Painting Services

Our home painting experts are ready to help you tackle your girls’ room painting project. We provide interior room painting, stair painting, kitchen cabinet painting, basement painting, and exterior painting to take the workload off your shoulders. Contact us today for a free painting quote.