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How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way

Hello guys! Long time no blog post, shame...shame!! I thought I could keep up with blogging way better than I have been, but life gets in the way, and all the projects have also been getting in the much so that I just haven't been able to put my fingers to these keys and chat with you guys again via the blog.

Well at least I am here again, two months later, but I am super excited to be here to share with you all another spontaneous project I took on last weekend while visiting my folks...their staircase! I painted their spindles in two days, and boy oh boy is this before and after a game-changer for their foyer!!

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | After DIY Foyer Project

A few years ago my parents added on a much-needed front entrance addition to their bi-level home. They created a larger front space by adding on an 8ft x 8ft square entryway.

Before when you would walk into their home there was hardly any space to rest a bag down and take off your shoes, let alone let multiple people come in at once, so needless to say the addition was a very practical solution for their home Along with the entry they laid down new vinyl flooring that also carried on up the staircase.

The flooring they chose was a pretty warm grey tone that complimented the wall colour in their house and other renovations they've made throughout the years. The only thing that didn't quite work was the oak spindles that surrounded the new floors. When you walk into their spacious entry the lovely staircase is the first thing you see.

My mom always knew she would want to paint the spindles one day which is why she never clear-coated the oak (smart lady!) So on the weekend when I was there I felt the energy to just tackle her staircase and only had two days to get it done! So let's get to it, shall we! I want to share with you guys how I did this in 2 days while getting the most beautiful finish and professional look!

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | After Painting Oak Spindles

Before I get started I just want to say that my folks live in a very small town and there are very few paint suppliers in the area. I used all my paint products from Home Hardware for this project, but I am in no way sponsored by them for this blog post, all reviews are my own. Having said that, I actually would say their paint by Beauti Tone is one of my most favourite paint brands and I have used it for many projects in the past!

What You Will Need:

  • Fine to medium grit sandpaper 320-400

  • Painters Tape, I like Frog Tape

  • 3 x 4" high-density foam paint rollers and trays, I recommend buying a few of these for the value and it has everything you need

  • 1 quart of primer, I used this one here

  • 1 gallon of semi-gloss or satin trim paint in a white of your choosing, I used this one here because it’s all we had access too, but my preference is this one is semi gloss

  • 1 quart of semi-gloss or satin trim paint in a contrasting colour of your choosing, I used this one here

  • Angled paintbrushes, I used a shorter one and long-handled one for more detail work

  • Degreaser, I like this one.

*Tip! If you have railings that already have a glossy surface or a sealer on them as mine did at home, use a liquid deglosser like this one to prep them for painting.

*I didn't take a lot of pictures during the process due to the time I had to finish, but I will do my best at explaining each step to the fullest!

First, let's see what we are starting with...

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | Before Oak Spindles
How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | Before Oak Spindles

Step One:

The first thing I did was lightly sand the handrails only! This is a question I get asked all the time. Do I need to sand the spindles?? NO! Gosh, that would take forever and not to mention be painful and messy!

Really the only place when you think about it you actually touch when going up and down the stairs, is the hand railing, not the spindles. Even if you have kids that like to grab onto the spindles you still don't need to sand them in my opinion. So sand just the tops of the handrails, just enough to rough them up a bit and scratch the surface, don't worry about sanding underneath and in between each spindle...again too much work. Your sanding shouldn't take more than 10 minutes depending on the size of your staircase.

Step Two:

If you have spindles that are clear coated or have a sealer/varnish on them from a previous paint job, use a liquid de-glosser like the one I linked above. I used this product when I painted my railing at home and I am here four years later to say I have zero chips!!

If you don't have a clear coat on your spindles like my moms didn't, I just used a liquid degreaser like Dawn dish soap and warm water to give them a wash, or you could also use Krud Kutter surface degreaser as well as I linked above. Once your surface is all washed down and dry you are ready to prime!

Step Three:

Use your painter's tape to tape off any areas you don't want to get paint on. Flooring, baseboards and walls. Don't skip this step! You want crisp clean lines when you are all done, it will look much better!

Step Four:

Ok so I should say first that you don't HAVE to prime IF you are using a trim paint and primer in one, but make sure it’s a good brand like Benjamin Moore, Behr, or Sherwin Williams. I used a paint and primer in one in my house and like I said above, zero chips thus far. Also, one thing I should probably stress the most is the key to having a long-lasting paint job is the prep work you do before you paint!!

If there is any dirt or grime, no matter how good your paint is, it will eventually chip off, so scrub scrub and let it fully dry before you paint.

With my high-density foam roller, I rolled on 1 coat of primer. I like to roll on as much as I can and then use my short angled brush to get into all the grooves afterwards. The more you roll, the less you have to hand paint on with a paintbrush. Rolling is one of the key reasons I got this project done so fast, it's WAY easier than hand brushing, you can get them fully coated in no time at all!

PLEASE be sure your roller isn't over-saturated with paint, I dip my roller evenly into the paint and try to get off the majority of the paint into the tray. I tend to make sure when I'm rolling that it's more of a dry application if that makes sense?? Meaning that when I'm rolling there are no drips spilling down the other side.

For every spindle you role do a quick check of the other side to make sure no drips are pouring over!! I have seen people paint staircases only to have to go back and then sand the entire other side of the spindles because they didn't check to make sure there were no drips pouring down the backside while they were applying their paint, uggghhh such a "paint" in the butt (hehe, yes I went there and I am a total nerd)! Anyways guys, just please check every time you roll! This is a very important step to make sure you don't create more work for yourself in the end.

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | Priming Staircase Spindles
All primed!

Step Five:

For my paint look I was going for a two-tone effect using a contrasting darker colour. The first colour I started with was white. I did NOT tape off the underside of the handrails and balusters before I started painting on the white. Why you ask?? Well, this is my little trick and tip to once again get this job done in a speedy manner and with far fewer headaches with all of that painful cutting in and taping work.

Now this look not might be for everyone, but I first saw it done by a professional painter and all I could think was that it was genius! Here I will show you what I mean...

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | DIY Painted Handrails

Do you see the underside? It's white! Yes, that's right! We didn't put the darker colour around the spindles because, well that would just take forever and honestly this looks so good as well, and who seriously inspects the underside of a hand railing anyways?? (insert eye roll).

Alright, so getting back to painting, you don't need to be careful here when painting your white on, other than making sure once again there are NO drips around the back of the spindles, so roll on your white in an even application and a drier application.

If you apply your paint too thick it will take forever to dry not to mention look thick and poorly painted. After you've rolled on your white, get in there with your angled brush and go to town pushing your white paint into all the leftover grooves and along the edges to make sure the white is fully covering your railings spindles and lower floor section.

I wanted to show you in the picture below where I applied all my white. Ignore the grey here, just focus on where the white is. By painting the undersides and floor rails white, it gave us shortcuts and saved us all the hassle of painting around each individual spindle which is where painted staircases forevvvverrrrr!

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | DIY Painted Stair Spindles

Step Six:

Check the dry time on your trim paint, most can be re-coated in 2 hours. Once it's dry apply your second application of white.

Step Seven:

Homestretch now guys! All you have left to paint is your darker colour on the top handrails and the balusters. Tape off the areas where the balusters meet the underside of the handrails and the bottom floor rails and along your walls.

I rolled on as much of my grey as I could, then made sure to use my more long-handled detailed brush to apply it around the edges of the walls and where the tape meets the white. So at this point, you may be wondering how I got my straight grey line underneath the rails without taping it. Well, all I did was basically follow the shape of the handrail with my drier roller which just made a nice line. If there were any areas that needed to be touched up I just used my angled paintbrush and sort of pressed against the rail and flicked down and away from the rail to straighten things up. After your first coat is dried wait for your recommended dry time and then apply your second coat!

*I like to take my painters tape off when the paint is not fully dried. It will leave a crisper line if you take it off when it's slightly tacky still.

Now, let's take a look at some pretty after pics shall we!?

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | After DIY Stair Spindles
How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | DIY Painted Stairs
How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | After DIY Painted Staircase

And one more time, the before.....

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | Before DIY Painted Staircase

Aaaaaaand the after...

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | After DIY Painted Staircase

My parents now have a much brighter staircase to welcome them when they walk in their front door. I feel like now their stairs flow beautifully with the rest of their home and no longer make this space feel dark and dated. The white paint instantly brightened everything up and my mom is completely smitten with the end results and of course, that is what matters most in all of this. My mom has lost most of her strength in her hands and finds it too hard to paint anymore, so for me, I was more than happy to do this for her.

Well guys I hope my post here has helped you gain some tips or little short cuts to paint your own staircase! If you've been humming and hawing about painting yours, you need to stop and just go for it. I mean your staircase is a large focal point of your home, so why let it be a dated focal point anymore when you can just paint it??

How To Paint Stair Spindles the Easy Way | Painted Stairwell DIY

Have a great day, guys,


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10 commentaires

Great job and thanks for posting! We are getting ready to switch our first floor flooring and I know the next thing we’ll need to do will be the nearby banisters so this will be my go-by.


The Stillwells
The Stillwells
20 mai 2021

So smart. Thanks for sharing!

Dale Wedge
Dale Wedge
20 mai 2021
En réponse à

Thank you for reading!


Would you have to sand the spindles down if they are brand new and not yet installed? Trying to decide if we are going to paint them white or stain them a natural wood color. If we decide to paint do you still have to sand? They are not yet installed in the house so it should be easier to accomplish this task. Thanks!

Dale Wedge
Dale Wedge
20 mai 2021
En réponse à

If they are a natural wood and not yet stained or painted the surface should be ready for paint, so I say skip the sanding part 👍🏽


Stacy Penot
Stacy Penot
19 mars 2021

What color is the grey paint you used?


Julie Brantome
Julie Brantome
24 déc. 2020

Thanks for the painting tips! So is it necessary to sand the spindles? At the beginning you said no, but then in Step 4 you said to sand and degrease them. What do you recommend? I have a LOT of spindles and don't really want to sand them. Mine don't have a clear coat on them.

Dale Wedge
Dale Wedge
20 mai 2021
En réponse à

Sorry I missed this! You don’t have to sand as long as you follow the steps of degreasing and using a good primer

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