The Banister is Painted!

November 13, 2014

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We’re back with pictures of our staircase railings actually painted and not just photoshopped. We could not believe how divided the vote on this post was! Nearly 50/50. And the comment section was brimming with ideas that we hadn’t even thought of. Here’s a reminder of what the railing looked like beforehand. This photo was actually taken when we got the keys to the house.


We can never please everyone, but sadly, this time only 49.28% of you might like the outcome. Haha!

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 1.19.53 PM

We went with all black!


The color we decided on is Clark+Kensington’s Tomcat. It’s actually a really soft black, almost a dark charcoal. Someone mentioned a high gloss black in the comments and we loved that idea. Pretty shortly after we put out the poll, I knew in my gut all black was where I wanted to go with the staircase. Does that every happen to you? As soon as you ask, you know the answer you’re hoping for? I started envisioning white or natural wood picture frames plastered all over the stairwell walls with family photos inside. The stairs will eventually be the same wood that our floors are in with a runner going down. It seemed like black was the missing element.


For extra durability, we used Clark+Kensington’s exterior line of High Gloss paint. I’ve had trouble using high gloss in the past, but I’ve learned it’s all about brushing it on and moving along. Messing with it or brushing over the same spot when it is only partially dry will ruin the glossy finish.


We rubbed the whole staircase down with TSP to prep it for painting and taped off the carpet. I actually started removing the carpet on the stairs, and then we thought wait! we’re not ready to tackle that just yet! Once everything was taped off and clean, Chris took the backside of the spindles using a ladder and I knocked out the other sides. Our first coat took 2 hours and the next day we finished the second coat in about an hour.



I love the viscosity of this exterior paint. It was thick and went on smooth. The brushstrokes disappeared in that ever-important don’t-mess-with-it phase of drying. In daylight the color reads as mostly black, but there are angles–especially coming up the stairs with the light pouring in–that it’s definitely charcoal. We love it all the time.


^^Evidence of my jumpstart in carpet removal. Oops. Initially we thought that we might replace the banister and spindles, but we’re not sure anymore. Down the road, likely when we tear up the carpet, I can see us boxing out the newel posts a bit–but it is a wonderful feeling to see how something as simple as paint can change your whole outlook on something. Half a quart of paint saved this banister for us!

IMG_9121 IMG_9131

I think this banister would have looked worlds better no matter which option we went with–can only go up from orange oak, really! But all black definitely felt like the best fit for us. Hope we convinced a few more of you!

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What do you think?

  1. Morgan Renzulli says:

    Long shot on an old post but ill give it a shot! I prepped my banister in the same method as your recent kitchen cabinet upgrade. My problem is the black Behr paint I’m using isn’t seeming to get ‘hard’ and is easlliy scratching right off! Any advice? I can switch to a high gloss exterior but I’m afraid layering it over whats already there will lead to more lifting?


  2. Robin Kraska says:

    I love this, I also have the 90’s oak balcony and I HATE IT. I bought black and have been scared to actually do it. After seeing your before and after photos I going to take the plunge but I know there is not turning back after….uggg

    Thanks for sharing

  3. Michele says:

    What do you think of using exterior paint on interior trim & doors?

  4. Vanessa says:

    How is the paint holding up? I am super tempted to start taping off my bannister today! I have deglosser and primer and paint (Benjamin Advanced that I used on the kitchen cabinets). I don’t want to sand from the dust. What do you think? My bannister is nothing fancy- 60s oak.

  5. Jackie says:

    Yay! So glad you went with Black…looks AWESOME!

  6. Sherri says:

    Love it. My choice also! Don’t waste your money or time on a different banister. This is awesome. Another good job by the two of you. Btw, now that YHL is defunct, you are one of the only blogs I enjoy. Keep up your sense of style, and you also are good at connecting with your “fans.”

  7. BeccaS says:

    Love it! I really couldn’t decide from the photoshop pics. I really like the shade of ‘black’ that you used here.

  8. Allison says:

    I just saw your Instagram of sweet Faye at the top of your stairs, which reminded me of my current baby-proofing dilemma. Do you all have plans to prevent toys (or her little head) from going between the balusters? My mom keeps reminding me that my cousin got his head stuck between the balusters at our house when he was little. My only idea is a crib bumper or fabric to weave through them. Let me know if you have any good (attractive) ideas!

  9. Looks great! Can you put up another photo with the angle facing the wallpaper? Like the photoshop image you used? it must all tie together nicely.

  10. Amanda says:

    I agree with another commenter that seeing the banister with the door makes black the obvious choice. They compliment each other very well. This looks great!

  11. Michelle says:

    I voted for black and white but I have to say, I think I was wrong! I absolutely love the all black. It looks awesome!

  12. Ange says:

    Hi Julia, great choice going all black. That was my vote, and the dark charcoal you chose was just perfect.. Dramatic and stylish. Perfect fit for your beautiful house!

  13. Laura says:

    I love it! The spindle shape is so unique and looks awesome in black. Just curious as to what you will do with the stairs… Did you say you would use the faux wood tile on them? How do you finish off the stair nose? Can’t wait to see more progress! :-)

    • Julia says:

      We do have extra wood tile for the stairs. We found a matching laminate stair nose, too! We’re just trying to figure out the rest of the logistics before we pull the trigger.

  14. Lauren says:

    loooooove it!!!! Great decision and great job!

  15. matt says:

    3 quick questions:

    1. did you sand or use a liquid sander deglosser prior to painting?
    2. did you prime first?
    3. is the paint water or oil based?

    and I guess 4 is, how is it holding up?

    we’re about to tackle this same project and just trying to get a feel for what I’m in for…

    Thank you, looks great

    • Julia says:

      Hi Matt, we used a liquid deglosser (tsp substitute) prior to painting and didn’t prime first. The paint is a water-based EXTERIOR paint that seems extremely durable. It’s only been a couple days since we finished so I probably can’t give you an accurate update on the wear and tear just yet, but so far so good!

  16. Amy says:

    That looks so great!! Love it!

  17. Cindy says:

    Beautiful work. Love it!

  18. Victoria says:

    Ooo… It looks so expensive!

  19. Meagan Briggs says:

    Seeing it officially black, I am wondering why I even said something different! White would look awkward with your front door, and even a stain. Black was the right decision!!!

  20. Laura says:

    Love it! Did paint wind up getting on the carpet?

    • Julia says:

      There was the time I tripped UP the stairs and my brush fell on the carpet. So, um, yes. Haha. Good thing we’re tearing it out, huh. No paint on the parts we taped off though.

  21. Amy C says:

    Julia, the banister looks FANTASTIC!!! I am so in love with that dramatic color! Great job!

  22. Rebecca W says:

    Had you shown the viewpoint of the railing and door together the first time, I would have chosen all black not black and white. I think you might have quite a few other readers that feel the same!

  23. Lauren M says:

    Looks good! Do you think you’ll have to touch up the bases of the banisters once the carpet comes off? We’re in the same boat…I’d like the visual impact of changing the railing, but we’re not ready to tackle the stairs yet. Also, is there a name for the color you used? I like that it’s dramatic but not stark black.

    • Julia says:

      I can’t believe I forgot to write the name of the paint color! Haha. I just updated it in the post. It’s called Tomcat and it’s a Clark+Kensington color. As for the base of the banisters, they will need touched up, but that seemed like the better route to go rather than live with unfinished stairs for the holidays.

  24. It looks so awesome. I voted for all black, so I’m glad you guys went with it. And Julia, you sound just like me. I jump the gun on projects sometimes and my hubby has to reel me back in :)

  25. Tiffany says:

    Seeing it here with the door make it look more complimentary. Just the kick in the keister I need to get to going on mine. Thanks for the details on which paint finish, good to know.

  26. The photo showing your entry accent wall in the background (with the wallpaper) makes the banister look so natural in that black-charcoal color. I really like the almost-black-but-not-quite-black shade. Is it the same as your front door?

  27. Carol says:

    It looks GREAT! Good job going with your gut!

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