Updating an Oak Stair or Handrail to White and Walnut

Kimberly at Craftyland has made some beautiful changes to their stair handrail.

ever since we moved into our little bungalow just over a year ago, the staircase going down to the basement has been a thorn in my side. the oaky colour stuck out like a sore thumb next to the hardwood we put in, and the staircase is front row center in the kitchen/familyroom/dining area of the house… so it needed a makeover BADLY!! here’s the proof:

i started by purchasing an orbital sander (how i survived this long without it boggles my mind!) and sanded off all the varnish from the railing. a few new sanding disks and two very wobbly hands later, it was ready for some stain. i used a gel stain which was awesome! so easy to apply because it went on more like paint than stain.

after one coat of stain
i did an extra coat of the stain just to be sure i wouldn’t forever stare at it and wonder if it was dark enough. next i applied 2 coats of diamond gard varnish and moved on to the spindles. first i primed them with bulls eye 123 which meant i didn’t have to sand them down to the bare wood like i did for the railing. then i applied 2 coats of paint we had leftover from when we painted our trim and wainscoting.

2 coats of stain and 2 coats of varnish
let the priming begin!
i’m so so so in love with how it turned out! now i just have to decide what i want to do with the wall heading down to the basement.. still undecided.. but for now i am just going to enjoy the transformation 🙂

Very nice change on the white stair handrail. 
 How do you like it?
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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. >This is fantastic! We have the same ugly oak banister in our house and I've been wanting to redo it — this totally gives me the courage!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

  2. >It looks great! I remember putting in an oak railing in our home about 11 years ago…I thought it was so pretty then!

  3. >Great job! I never really knew why I didn't like my own oak bannisters. Now I know! The link to Craftyland takes me to the comments section of "Little Mac Shack" …..help!

  4. >That is seriously gorgeous! I really love the crisp and clean look of it all! And it look wonderful with the floors. GREAT job!

  5. >We just repainted (well, not really "we" as in my husband and I, more like "we" paid to get it painted!!)… and have HATED the bannister. The spindles are also painted white, but the rail part is still the oak. Now I know that "I" (yes, as in "me") need to get busy and make this "most needed" change!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  6. >What a difference. Just beautifuil. All of the stuff you make or remodel is just amazing. Just amazing you have so much talent!

  7. This looks great!!! I am inspired so I went today to menards to start mine…. I have sanded and started to stain with a gel stain… Can u give me advice on staining and what color did u use????

  8. I love this. I was sanding all of the spindles. Now I am going to by some Bullseye 123!! Whew, thanks!

  9. Hi!
    I am in the process of trying to figure out how to address my staircase. I have to replace the balusters as well but that’s small portion of open railing. Could you tell me what color stain you used for the railing and where you purchased it? Are you still happy with it? Did you have to sand a lot or did a light sanding suffice? Any tips you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much!