A wood banister or handrail can be one of the most difficult items in your home to paint.

Yet, with that said, a painted banister can also be one of the most attractive focal points for your home.

Below you will find step by step instructions to make your banister painting job a little easier.

Spraying is by far the best way to tackle painting your banister. If you don't have a paint sprayer you can use spray bombs (aerosol paint cans). With that said, a brush and roller will work but can make your job more difficult.

A clear coat can also be applied to bare wood instead of paint. Just lightly sand, dust then use the instructions below for applying the top coat.


Before using any product or tools, be sure to ask your local paint dealer for advice. Also, always follow local government safety procedures in regards to the type of project being done.

As mentioned above, spray cans or bombs work best when coating a wood banister or handrail. If the banister is rather large (more than ten feet long) then you may need to rent an HVLP (high volume low presure) spray system to do a proper job.

When using spray cans, start with two or three bombs of primer and a plastic gun trigger that snaps on top of the can for easier spraying.

Once you have sprayed out the primer, you will then have an idea of how many cans of paint you are going to need. If you end up with an unused can, most stores will let you return it.

Before spraying, you will need to decide on how and what needs to be protected from overspray.

I use blue painters tape (expensive but works best) masking paper, rolled plastic and drop cloths. All jobs are different so this is to your discretion.

Keep in mind though, being over protective is better than under protective. Also, laying down the drop cloths, plastic, masking and over all process of prepperation itself, usually takes much longer than the actual painting.

Following, is a list of needed products and tools for painting your wood banister or handrail.


  • Face mask for paint spraying and protective outerwear.
  • Tape, scissors, paper, plastic, drop cloths.
  • Primer bombs or HVLP paint sprayer.
  • Quality spray cans of paint or HVLP.
  • Plastic gun handle for spray cans.
  • Tube of paintable caulking/gun.
  • New fine sanding.
  • Dusting brush.
  • Clean dry rags.


Cover everything that needs to be protected. Walls, floors, furniture, etc. I have a paper masking machine but you can buy pre-taped paper or plastic if you wish.

Place drop cloths or old sheets on the floor, plastic the walls then use scissors or utility knife to cut the tape/paper so that it fits around any spindles that may be up against the walls.

If you have areas on the wooden banister or handrail, such as metal spindles that need tape and masking be sure to do a good job of getting them covered.


Using the sanding sponge, lightly sand any parts of the banister that will be painted. Such areas may include the spindles, spacers, bottom plate and top hand rail etc.

With the brush and a dry rag remove all of the dust that is now sitting on the wood banister or handrail


Attach the plastic gun handle to the spray can, be sure the primer you are using is of the best quality and recommended for the job at hand (ask a paint dealer for product and spray can use advice) or set up your spray machine.

If you do not have experience spraying paint, with spray cans or a spray system, be sure to practice before applying paint to your wood banister or handrail. You can also check the spraying area of this site for more instructions.

Begin by spraying the top spacers. This is the wood that separates the spindles from each other. Do not get to close or you will have runs and sags if this happens, let them dry, then sand or cut the runs out, fill any holes you make, sand again, prime and re-spray.

With an even stroke, start spraying to the right of the spacer, just before the wood banister or handrail begins, stop just after it finishes.

Now, do the left side of the spacer. Spray the middle of the spacer if needed. Go to the next spacer and do the same. Be sure to keep looking at what you have done, as you may need to adjust your technique.

Spray until the top is done, then do the bottom spacers in the same way as the top. Now start spraying in a strait line up and down.

Depress the can just before the wood banister or handrail begins and stopping just after it ends, begin coating the spindles. Do the left or right side of the spindles first.

Work with whatever is comfortable for you. I spray out the spindle closest to the wall, then move onto the next spindle, spraying it's inside left, while overlapping each pass, proceed onto the spindles edge, then finish with the face.

It's the same as painting vertical strait lines onto the two, exterior sides of a tall skinny box, except your using a spray can instead of a paint roller.

Completing this process can take three or more overlapped up and down passes, depending on how your can sprays and spindle size. Keep doing the left side of the spindles until you get to the end of the wood banister or handrail, then do the right inside as the spindles face is already done.

If you have deep groves in your spindles, or very round areas, you may need to spray these first using a side to side motion before spraying the spindle up and down.

You will be able to tell because you will see missed areas. Now spray along the floor from one side to the next, so as to to cover the bottom plate. Do the same for the top side of the rail.

With one side done, proceed to the other. Save the very top of the hand rail for last. Do it in one or two long even strokes. Stand back and look at your handy work also lay on the floor and look up.

By doing so, you will see areas of your wood banister or handrail that you may have missed and can touch up.


Once the primer is dry, use your caulking or filler to fill cracks, divots and holes. You will be able to tell where they are because they will be black compared to the white primer.

When cutting the end off the caulk tube, be sure it is at a slight angle and is as small as possible, yet big enough to let the caulk out (small finish nail size).

Having a smaller hole will give you more control over the caulking process. Using very little pressure on the tube, caulk all of the black cracks, spots and divots that you may see on your wood banister or handrail.

Smooth out with your finger and remove excess caulk by wiping it onto a clean (damp if you wish) rag. Keep caulking, smoothing and wiping until everything is all white. When the caulk is dry, touch up areas that have bean missed, or the caulk has shrunk.

Now, lightly sand, then use a brush and dry rag to remove the dust, once that is done, re-prime, light sand again, and touch up the primer if areas have been sanded away then re-dust.


Using a paint spray can is very much the same as using a primer spray can. Once the primer is dry, use the same priming process to paint your wood banister or handrail.

Two coats are recommended and in some cases depending on the color, more paint coats may be needed.


Painting a wood banister or handrail can be a long process but looks beautiful in the end. A banister is usually one of the focal points in your home so updating it to colors that match your walls or decorating accents, can be a very nice added touch.

I use only the best products when painting a banister. In most cases they are waterborne for easy use and a quality finish. Ask your local paint store sales rep for product selection and application advice.

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