How To Transform Your Stairs

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I can’t believe that I’ve been working on this staircase for 5 weeks! What? That can’t be right? But it is…and I thought this was going to be a quick project. My time projections seem to be way off! But what counts right now, is that they are DONE! FINISHED! VOILE’!

This is what I had been looking at for 6 long years....

Not anymore!!!
Before & After
What a difference! It looks and feels so bright and airy now!

You are more than welcome to check out the the prepping process, and see the amazing primer I used. The Best Primer EVER! Painting Stair Spindles and Stair Risers. Taking the time to prep is what will give you these super results!

The last time we chatted about this, I was just beginning the priming process and as you can see here I have completed one coat of primer.
Stairs Primed

I actually have a second coat of primer on the upper spindles. Can you see what a difference one more coat makes?
Primer 1 vs Primer 2

Here is a side view.
Stairs Primed 2
I didn't start the spirals at the end yet, because I was debating on what to do first… stain or primer and paint.

The main posts are going to be the same color as the top rail. Here is the stain I chose.

Minwax Polyshades Satin Wood Stain, Mission Oak

 It is a beautiful color!
New Stain Color

And that’s only one very light coat.  I decided it would be easier to stain the posts first, then wrap them with plastic wrap. That turned out to be a fantastic idea! I had no trouble paint the spindles because I didn't have to worry about getting paint on the post. It's pretty tight in there...
Wrapped Post ready to prime

Moving right along...
Second coat of prime is complete! Seriously, this project was going at a snail's pace.  There were so many days that I worked on it for hours and it felt like I accomplished nothing. But little by little it was getting done!
Ready to Paint

Then when you finally get to start taking the tape off… Oh that glorious moment!

Now it's starting to look better!! Time to get staining!

Minwax Polyshades Satin Wood Stain, Mission Oak This is a mixture of polyurethane and stain in one, which is so nice, two steps combined! It went on much smoother that I thought it would. A lot of times when working with 'poly' whether it’s polyacrylic (waterbased) or polyurethane (oil based) it tends to have air bubbles when you brush it on. You have to work slowly, but quick enough to keep that wet edge. This mixture was so easy to work with, it just glided on with ZERO air bubbles! I will definitely use this product again!

I really didn’t want to sand anything on this project… sanding is so messy. But I ended up having to sand, just a little bit...

I cleaned the bottom left rail and stained it. It came out beautiful. Then for some reason, I skipped the right handrail and went to the upper rail and started staining that one. That was it for the night.

Well, I checked it the next morning and the upper handrail was still tacky. What? Then it dawned on me… I never cleaned it. Ugh!! There were 6 years of hands touching these rails, that a lot of oil and dirt. Who cleans handrails? I never did... Anyway, the stain was just sitting on top of all that 'stuff'. Great…. So, I sanded it off.  It rolled and was kinda sticky, but I got it off. I just kept sanding until it was pretty clean of any oils, at least I hoped.

Don't worry, I scrubbed the other handrail! Then I went over that one with a bit of sand paper.  I thought it was a good idea, since every person that goes up those stairs is going to touch that handrail, plus there already was a mess...not too bad though.

In this picture, its a little hard to tell, but everything has one coat of stain, except the long right handrail. The second coat is where you can really see the difference. I used steel wool in between the coats of stain.
Rail 1 coat Rail none

Now, it’s looking amazing!! I ended up putting another coat of stain on those main posts at the bottom. Very gingerly working around those white spindles. It wasn’t too bad, the stain easily came off the white spindles, if you caught it quick. I just love this… Gorgeous!
Lower Stairs
Here’s another view.
Upper Stairs
I guess I shouldn’t have said that they were ‘completely’ finished…. They are finished for now. The plan is to stain the stair treads eventually. Right now, spring is in the air and I NEED to get out of the house. Sinking my hands in some dirt sounds pretty good right now!
Stair Post Rail
I’ve always loved this spiral end to the stairs.
One last view…
This is one happy girl here! Now that the stairs are painted, I love that subtle detail on the side of the stair risers.  I couldn’t stand it, when it was the wood color. It adds some pretty sweet character now. :)

This was quite an accomplishment! 102 stair spindles and 16 stair risers, 6 posts and 3 handrails! Whew! I am so GLAD to cross this one off my never ending To Do list! :)

One more before and after!!
Before & After
Thanks for reading!!


  1. Lori, it looks gorgeous! I love the new stain rich! It seems to be a project that, while it is a lot of work, the pay off is huge!

    1. Thanks, Jenny! It was definitely a huge payoff! Can't wait to do the treads!! :)

  2. Wow, the transformation is really looks awesome, that was just way
    to much Oak, and I absolutely love the look of Oak and White. I am sure you are loving
    this new look, but I know also it had to be quite labor intensive, but from the looks
    of things quite worth it. Great job.
    Blessings, Nellie

    1. Hi Nellie! You are sooo right about labor intensive!! But I still LOVE it and the white is holding up amazing! I'm so glad I did it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love to hear from y'all! :)

  3. You did an absolutely fabulous job! I love your staircase. We have an old New England style house, so our staircase isn't open like this. I've always dreamed of having stairs that look exactly like yours! I know how difficult and time consuming painting all those spirals can be. That was me in my foyer two summers ago! Great job Lori :)

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