I gathered a lot of old towels to cover the carpet on the steps and also used an old hand towel (perfect size) to apply the stain. I stained the banister in sections since you’re supposed to let the stain sit for just a few minutes before wiping it off again. After staining and letting the stain sit for about 15 minutes (being sure to stain the underside of the banister too), I then wiped the stain that did not absorb off the banister with a clean cloth. I let the stain sit overnight to fully dry even though the can said I could reapply in 4-6 hours. I wanted to make sure that the wood fully absorbed the stain.
The next day, I took a very fine grit piece of sandpaper (grit 600) and lightly sanded the entire banister to get rid of any imperfections. You have to be careful to have a light hand because you don’t want to sand off the stain. After the sanding, I wiped down the entire banister with a clean dry cloth. Then I repeated the same process for coat number one to include the fine sanding. The only thing I did differently though is that I let the stain sit for a little longer this time (more like for 20 minutes).
After letting the stain sit again overnight, I sanded with my 600 grit sandpaper, then applied a coat of semi-gloss poly (Minwax brand). I let that dry overnight then again, (that’s right!), I hit it with 600 grit sandpaper then applied my second coat of poly in the same way that I applied the first coat. The only difference is that I did not sand the second coat.
With the top of the balusters painted, it was time to paint the spindles. I chose Behr’s semi-gloss stock white paint. First I taped off the tops and bottoms of the spindles since I didn’t want white paint getting on my freshly stained banister. I gave each spindle a quick wipe down with mineral spirits then a dry cloth then painted the spindles with three coats of white paint, waiting in between coats for each coat to dry. There is really no trick to painting the spindles because if you’ve ever painted baseboards or trim you know it’s not hard! I was just careful to watch for drips. The best way to avoid drips is to paint thin coats which I did, so no drips for me.
After the spindles were painted, it was then time to sit back, admire the new banister, and be grateful that this project was checked off!
Last pic, promise:
This was definitely more of a project than I thought it would be but worth it in the end (even though my fingernails edges were brown for a week afterward!). Has anyone tackled a staining project like this? How did it turn out?