What Color To Paint The Stair Railing? (We Have The Answer!)

Tiffany Nichols
by Tiffany Nichols

The stairs in your home are crucial. They take your house to a whole new level, literally. Plus, they’re usually a focal point of the room. So, you have to paint them the correct color, or else they’ll look terrible. But what paint works best for stair railing anyway? And how do you choose?

You should paint your stair railings a color that coordinates with the rest of your home decor. Also, try to choose shades that help make your staircase look open. Most homeowners will stain their rails lighter than the banister for that reason. So, you see white railings with finished wood details in many houses.

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How to Make Your Stairs Look Better

The more you work on your home, the more beautiful it becomes. So, it’s sensible to renovate your stairs. But making your staircase look better isn’t always easy. First, you need decorating ideas. Then, you need the correct tools to finish the paint. Next, you have to follow these three steps:

  • Measure the Railings: Measuring your stairs will help you calculate how much paint you need.
  • Determine the Materials: Is your staircase made from wood, metal, vinyl, or something else?
  • Remove the Existing Finish: You can’t paint over glossy lacquer or chipped color, so get rid of it.

Now you have to pick out the best paint for your stairs. Remember, steps typically take a beating. So, try to use high-hide paint or cover the surface with a glossy finish. That way, the light will reflect any imperfections in color.

TIP: Achieve a smoother finish with paint rollers of HVLP sprayers instead of traditional brushes.

What Color Should a Bannister Be?

The banister is the long piece of material that holds your railings in place. That means you should color it something that matches the rest of your stairs. For example, if your bars are white, make the handrail the same color as the risers. You can also paint it an accent color or strip it to expose the natural wood grain. Either way, the glossier the stain, the better.

What Color Do You Paint Stair Railings?

The perfect color for your railings depends on several factors, including your home’s design. To create a classic look, paint your railings a darker shade. Try black, deep blue, or green. You can also use brighter colors such as white, yellow, red, or pastels if you want something more modern. And neutral colors are always winners. Feel free to mix and match with those to develop a tailored design.

Experimenting with color can be fun. But it can also be expensive. So, look for paint samples at your local hardware store. And check the return policies for each paint can you buy. That’s because some manufacturers will let you bring back the colors you don’t like.

NOTE: You can’t judge a paint by its finish unless you apply it correctly.

Do You Need to Sand Stair Railing Before Painting?

Always sand the surfaces you’re about to paint. That way, you gently remove all the debris before applying a new color. Sanding is an especially crucial step if your stairs are wooden. Wood staircases also require more effort to finish the surface and protect it from moisture.

Be careful when sanding wood to remove paint and polyurethane. You have to use fine-grit sandpaper to avoid damaging the surface. And always buff in a circular motion to lift particles in all directions. Afterward, wipe the surface with a dry cloth to remove flakes and dust.

You don’t have to wait to paint your railings after sanding. So, choose your color or stain and then get to work immediately. Apply a coat of primer first, then cover the surface with lacquer. And feel free to add more coats of paint if you need them.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Stairs?

Stairs can be tricky to paint. First, you must use the best interior colors and several coats to protect the surface. But you can’t apply specific types of paint because they either won’t cover or they’ll start to peel. So, read the label to find out more information.

Look for durable paints with an eggshell, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. Also, try to find colors with slip resistance. Your best bet is an interior latex paint or enamel paint with the primer included. Then top it with a water-based polyurethane to enhance durability.

DID YOU KNOW: You can buy interior paints that help hide imperfections.

How Do You Protect Painted Handrail?

Protect your painted railings with two or three generous coats of polyurethane. But wait until your paint fully dries before you apply them. And don’t lay polyurethane between paint coats because it could ruin your finish. So, wait until your color looks perfect first. Then, apply the sealant with a clean paintbrush to ensure maximum coverage.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Stair Railing?

Hire a professional painter if you think the job is too challenging or time-consuming. Painters usually charge between $5 and $15 per linear foot. Meanwhile, the average staircase is about nine to twelve feet long. So, expect to pay as little as $50 in some cases and as much as $200 in others. The price always depends on the company providing services.

TIP: You might get a discount if your painter does a terrible job. But you have to make your wishes clear before they begin. And you have to give them ample time and space to work.

Related Questions

What’s the Difference Between Railing and Bannister?

The differences between a railing and a banister are simple. Rails are miniature fences that hold the structure together. They also protect people walking up or down the steps from falling. But a banister is a long piece of material that runs along the top of each railing spoke. It helps hold the rails in place and provides an anchor for climbing guests. That’s why most banisters follow the wall line in homes.

Can You Paint Stairs Black?

Technically, you can paint your stairs any color on the spectrum. If it matches your home decor and can withstand heavy foot traffic, it’s the perfect shade. However, black stairways can be hazardous because they limit visibility. So, include black paint in other ways. Try painting the banister or treads black instead. Then, combine the darker colors with white risers and railings.

Do You Need to Seal Painted Stairs?

You should permanently seal painted surfaces after the color dries. That’s because unsealed surfaces are at risk of damage from moisture and traffic. So, protect your work with one or two coats of water-based urethane. High-quality urethane products can help prolong your investment and keep your stairs beautiful for years.

How Do You Brighten Up Stairs?

There are several ways to brighten dark stairs. Try adding new lights first. Then, cover the surface with a light-reflecting color to help perk up the space. You can also add colorful runners, mirrors, and other accessories to improve the look.

Can I Paint Over Painted Stairs?

Don’t put paint over old color. You should remove old paint before applying new color to any surface. That’s because old paint can chip beneath the new lacquer, decreasing the life of your color.

Do You Need to Hire a Paint Contractor?

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Make It Your Stairway to Heaven

Envelope your staircase with the most heavenly paint. Then protect it with a glossy, durable finish. You can choose any color that matches your decor. But remember to pick paints that are easy to clean and maintain. That’s because your railings endure lots of traffic. And repainting stairs can be expensive.

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Tiffany Nichols
Tiffany Nichols

Tiffany Nichols specializes in aesthetics, design, marketing, and manufacturing. She's a copywriter and editor for several home renovation companies in the U.S. and works alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. Her hobbies include architecture, art, mental health, and fashion.

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