Easy to Finish Stair Railing

Stair landing @designerssweetspot.com

This is a sponsored post. Any opinions given are completely my own.

I have been dreading this project ever since we moved in. Sometimes it’s easy for me to tackle certain things, but I get over whelmed with large projects.

I am sure I am not alone in this, many people don’t finish projects or don’t even start them at all if they feel they are going to be time consuming, labor intensive and costly.

Refinishing a stair railing is one of those projects.

front stairs @designerssweetspot.com

This stairway is huge. It is steep, dark and dreary, one of those places you would rather just run through than to stop and spend any time there.

I don’t think the railing has ever been refinished. The finish is completely worn off on most of it, what remained was full of deep gashes, scratches, and marks.

It was also faded to different colors, depending on where the sunlight hit, although it could be from being handled all the time.

MInwax gel stain @designerssweetspot.com

Anyway, I knew this would be a massive project and I set aside several days of my time to work on it. My product of choice was Minwax Gel Stain.

I did lots of research on finishes before deciding on this one. I wanted a deep color that blended in with the other woodwork in the house. I knew it would be way easier to re-stain the railing than to paint it.

I had no intention of stripping away the old finish, so I was pleased to find a product that could be used right over it. The gel stain is great for vertical surfaces, so it was an idea choice for this project.

staining glove

I found this furry staining glove in the paint department at ACE Hardware. I have never tried anything like this before, but it sounded interesting. Why use a brush, when you can grab a handful of the stuff and smear it on?

staining glove @designerssweetspot.com


This is me, the one gloved wonder. Michael Jackson would approve.

The glove was really fun to use. The stain was really easy to wipe on the front and back of the spindles at the same time. The glove also made it easy to get the stain down into all the nooks and crannies, I didn’t use a brush at all except for the fine details at the base of the newel post.

newel post @designerssweetspot.comThere are 3 newel posts on this stair case, in this photo you can see the difference between the stained portion and the unstained. HUGE improvement.

Yes, the stain is that dark, this is Minwax’s Brazilian Rosewood.

Newel post globe The stair treads will be the same color, and I plan to paint the risers to really set off the wood tones.

I planned a lot of time for this project, but I found that using the glove staining technique it only took a fraction of the time to complete.

In fact, it took me only two hours to stain the entire staircase.

finished railingThat has got to be a record of some kind. Two hours? I thought it would take at least 2 days!

I finished so quickly, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself the rest of the day. The gel stain does take a bit longer to dry, 8-10 hours, and it had very little odor overall. I would definitely use this product time and time again.

I used almost zero painters tape, the gel stain doesn’t drip at all. WOW! I wish someone would come up with a paint that does that!

I used almost zero newspaper, I had a bit on hand at the bottom of the stairs, but as you can see in the photo, I didn’t need any of it going up the railing.

kitty napping

My kitty sat and watched me work, she is my social media advisor.

upper stair railing

When I was done, I treated myself to a luxurious afternoon of reading a good book out on the deck.

When was the last time you had time to do that?

More on my upper deck project coming soon!



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