Newsflash: You can paint your railings any color you want.

June 7, 2011  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Sometimes there is so much I want to tackle, I can’t decide what to do next.  My solution:  I do whatever is free.  And since Chris is working late every night, lately I have been picking projects that I can do easily by myself.  In steps the stairway railing and her little sister, this divider between the dining room and family room:

The free-ness is thanks to Benjamin Moore giving out free pints to everyone and anyone until June 30th. You just have to “like” them on facebook and print off your coupon and take it into any store that sells ol’ Ben.  (Hint: we printed off, like, five.) For the railings, I knew I didn’t want black and white.  Albeit traditional, we have quite a bit of black and white accents already and I wanted something that would compliment that, as well as, mesh with the dark wood floors we are dreaming of eventually getting.  We agreed almost instantly on Ben Moore’s Steel Wool.  I decided to start on the smaller railing (the divider) because I wanted to make sure we would like the look before tackling the larger staircase.  It took WAY longer than I expected.  Sanding, cleaning, and painting and then a light sand and a second coat on this took 3.5 hours.

But it looks exactly as I hoped it would, so I can’t complain too much.  What a difference!  It feels calm and coordinated (ugh, try not to look wreck-of-a-kitchen cabinets).  
As far as the process, it wasn’t hard, just tedious.  The spindles and hand rail weren’t very glossy, so I just gave them a quick sanding and then cleaned off all the dust and washed it down really well.  Benjamin Moore is one of the best paints out there, so I was confident skipping priming once the wood was roughed up a bit by sanding.  So, once the wash-down dried, I started painting in the following order:
 This order really helped me stay organized, not go crazy, and not get in my own way.  There were so many times I instinctually grabbed for the center spindles and I was so grateful they weren’t painted yet.  After the first coat dried, I sanded it with a very fine grit paper and then gave it a second coat just as The Bachelorette was starting last night (oh my, Bentley!).  I opted out of a sealer top-coat because they tend to yellow over time and I didn’t want this to look super shiny, either.   The end result is completely charming, even up close:
Chris and I are both glad that the grain is still coming through the paint.  It makes it feel extra special.  Yesterday, once I was finished and admiring it, I decided I needed a break before I started round two: the big sister staircase.  But this morning, I started sanding without giving it a second thought…although, I am positive it will be more than a one-day project.  Something to look forward to!

What do you think?

  1. Margaretcoley says:

    I have been studying this post because I am getting ready to do the same thing. I would love to know what kind of brush you used. Thanks!

  2. Susan S says:

    It looks nice!

  3. DoublClik says:

    I like that muted soft color too. This blog always gets me thikning outside the box and I nodded when I read your post title. Like “okay! all right! I will read on!” Nice job Jules

    DoublClik Photo Blog

  4. i’m loving the staircase. i really need to repaint my dresser (yes, i realize it’s not a staircase but still) so this gives me motivation (and a discount on paint) to do so! woot!

  5. Susan S says:

    It looks nice!

  6. I like….I like! Ya know what my next lil’ project is gonna be?

  7. Julia says:


    You can do it, girl! Like I said, it was surprisingly easy, just tedious. Good luck!


  8. I love the title of your post. I have been trying to convince my husband that we can paint our stair railing. I’m showing him your post! Thanks for the how-to tips too!

  9. Michaela says:

    I love it!! The color is perfect (:

  10. Julia says:

    Thank you, thank you. Surprisingly my back is okay. Talk to me after I am done with the big staircase and the story may be different.


  11. Meagan says:

    It is PERFECT. It isn’t LOUD or too much. Perfect way to do it. It is nice to see railings not just black or white or natural wood. I haven’t seen many, but after seeing yours….this is AWESOME! And good for you for doing projects by yourself. Is your back killing???

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