How To Update An Old Staircase Railing

Posted on: 25 March 2016

If your staircase railings are looking a little old and outdated, you can update it to look a little more modern and change the look of your home. You don't have to tear out your old railing, or cut out the old post (unless you really want to), you can give your railings and post new life with just a coating of paint. See below for instructions on how to easily paint your railings, post, and even the spindles, without needing to sand or prime them first. 

Materials For The Job

  • Paintbrushes
  • Liquid deglosser
  • Rags
  • High-gloss enamel paint
  • Protective gloves


  1. Put on your protective gloves and open up a few windows or the door to allow for ventilation. Apply a little bit of deglosser to a rag and begin wiping it on the wooden railing, spindles and post. Be sure to add more deglosser to your rag as you move along. The deglosser helps remove the glossiness of the wood and will allow the new paint to adhere better. 
  2. After you have applied the deglosser, you can begin painting. Use your paintbrush to apply the high-gloss paint. The railing is fairly simple to paint, the spindles may prove a little more difficult. Be sure not to use too much paint, as you may end up with drip marks. Take your time and go slow. If need be, you can add a second or third coat. If you happen to have drip marks once your banisters are dry, you can lightly sand the area and paint it again.
  3. Allow everything to dry completely before adding additional coats of paint.

When updating your staircase, paint goes a long way. You can get creative with your paint colors and use white for the spindles, then contrast it with deep brown or even black for the railings and banister. Here are some other ideas:

  • You can also change out the hardware holding your handrail in place. If you have old brass hardware, update it with brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze. 
  • Change the cap on your post from a ball to a square cap (which can be found at your local hardware store). Add caulk around the base of the new cap and paint it to match so it has a seamless look.
  • Invest in a new handrail to update your staircase by using something a little out of the ordinary, such as using a piece of pipe and fittings for a more industrial look. You can also use a large piece of driftwood or even rope for a cottage/beach feel. 

Before tearing out for your old railings to replace them with something new, think of how you can update them instead. For more ideas, look at sites like


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