This project has been on our “to do” list for years…
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Ever since we moved into our home 12 years ago, I knew I wanted to get rid of the Oak banisters. But of course, life, children and other more pressing and important problems and projects kept it at the bottom of the list.
I knew it would be tedious to stain an oak banister, and we weren’t looking forward to the amount of time and work it would take. We even had some contractors come in a give us a few bids to see if it would be worth it to hire the job out. With the lowest bid coming in at $5k, we quickly dropped the project. That was simply too pricey for our budget.
About a year ago, I learned about a Gel Stain from General Finishes that we would be able to use without a lot of tedious prep work. I was so excited, because I knew that we might actually feel motivated to finally get this project off of our to do list. When I showed the stain to my husband, he was actually as excited as I was (and my husband isn’t always excited when I present him with new project ideas… :)!
*NOT ALL GEL STAINS ARE THE SAME! We had great success with this particular brand of gel stain, so use other brands at your own risk. Test on a small inconspicuous area first!
Staining Oak Banisters Dark still is a time consuming project because of all the balusters, but we were able to cut down A LOT of the tedious prep work. But I am so happy with how they turned out, that I would totally do it again if I had too. If you are looking to update your Oak Banisters, I will attempt to share with you a tutorial so that you can do it too.
How to Stain an Oak Banister Darker:
old socks or rags
white paint (semi-gloss finish)
Directions: Please read through all directions a few times before you start!
1. Lightly sand down all of your banister, including every surface you will be staining and/or painting with 220 grit sand paper. This doesn’t need to be perfect. You just need to barely rough up your surface so the stain and paint can adhere to it. It is best if you don’t wear down your original stain color, because you will be able to notice the color variations when you put on the new stain.
2. Tape off the surfaces you will NOT be staining. We did a two-tone look with some of the Banister painted and some stained. So we had to be extra careful in taping off the RIGHT areas to prevent stain from getting where we did not want it. Do your staining first and THEN your painting. (You will need to tape off again after you stain for the areas you will be painting).
If your stairs are carpeted like ours, you might even want to tape the actual carpet! You can see that we did this in the above photo.
We stained the following areas on our staircase:
- Newel Caps
We painted the following areas on our staircase white:
- Stringer (or Carriage)
3. To stain the wood, simply dip your rag or old sock into General Finishes JP Gel Stain in Java color that has been stirred well (according to your particular brands instructions). Rub over your wood in small working areas lightly until your stain is even in color and thickness. You may not get the dark color the first or even second application, so don’t try to make it really dark in one coat. It took us two coats of stain to get the color we desired because our oak was a little bit darker to begin with. If you get too much stain on, simply wipe off the excess stain as quickly as possible and reapply. Complete this process until your first coat is finished.
*To get in small areas, we suggest using a small craft paint brush to apply stain in the hard to reach areas of your balusters and newels.
4. Let your stain dry for at least 24 hours (according to the directions for your particular brand of stain). Add your second coat of stain and let dry completely.
5. When the stain has set for a few days, you can tape off the areas you have just stained that are next to the areas you are now going to be painting. Take your time and tape the edges as carefully as you can. The more time and effort you put into this, will greatly effect the outcome of your finished banister!
6. Paint white gripper primer on the areas you will be painting. We LOVE using Glidden’s Gripper Primer in white. We have used it to paint all of our cabinets and the paint holds up SO well!
7. Now paint those same areas with your favorite indoor paint. We used our favorite white paint in a semi-gloss finish. Let your paint dry in between coats. Ours took 2 coats to cover completely.
8. If you have any areas that need some touch up, you can do so at this time.
9. To finish your banisters so that the stain and paint holds up well over the years, you will want to cover them with a varnish. We LOVE General Finishes SH Gel Topcoat in Satin finish. You simply wipe this varnish on like you did the stain…with a clean rag or sock. We used three coats and allowed it to dry between each coat.
10. Remove your painter’s tape and touch up any areas that may need it.
This project took a few weeks for us to complete…with a LOT of other family stuff going on in between staining and painting and drying times. We worked on it mostly at night when the kids were in bed.
I am in LOVE with the outcome. The finished stain color ties in so nicely with our dark wood flooring. Such a nice change from the oak color it was before! Now go and do yours!
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