Would like some ideas on how to clean a very old railing in the front

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our home was built in the 1860's and the railing is orig. a neighbor of ours tightened it up for us and I would like to restore it...I started by using vinegar n dawn and very fine sand paper for the areas that have dripped paint on them...I feel like its going very slow. I dont want to strip it but do a good cleaning job on it.


  13 answers
  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on May 04, 2020

    Can you share a photo? What is it made of it? Wood? Metal?

    • Em Em on May 04, 2020

      A photo is not necessary but metal or wood makes a difference to what to do to clean it up.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on May 04, 2020

    Hello. From your question I cannot tell if your railing is wood or metal. Perhaps inserting a photograph here would show us your existing railing and give us a better idea of how to offer the best possible recommendations and solutions. Certainly you can understand that metal railing and wood railing would require a different approaches potentially mechanical vs chemicals to revitalize.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on May 04, 2020

    Yes get rid of the paint! I am assuming it is wood. There are natural strippers out there like citristrip that you could use if the reason you don't want to use one is how toxic they are. I hate stripping too, in which case, I always go for all the sanding. Know there will be more dust that way...use mask and shop vac. start with 180 grit and work up to 220.

  • Janice Janice on May 04, 2020

    I know you said you didn't want to use a stripper but the only way then is to sand; snce that's time consuming we're back to using stripper. Citri-Strip works great and is fairly odorless and easy to use. It works well on vertical surfaces and you can place a layer of plastic or plastic wrap to keep it moist while it does its work. Then scrape and clean the stripper off and you'll have much less time-consuming sanding to do to complete your project. I bet your work will be well worth the effort once completed.

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on May 04, 2020

    Those jobs do take a long time. If metal use a wire brush, if wood sand paper is good. To clean, use TSP. Dawn and vinegar is not strong enough.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on May 04, 2020

    Hmm maybe steel wool would help

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 05, 2020

    Hi there,

    If you have Pot scouring pads (Brillo), they might do the job for you. It will take time and it will be dirty work, BUT well worth it in the end................

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 05, 2020

    Scraping and steel wool might be a good way to go. You should document and post when you are finished.

  • This is going to be a big tedious project, it's hard to escape that unless you have a company come out, remove them, and dip to strip them. The DIY process is different depending if they're metal or wood. Considering their age, you might consider consulting with a type of architectural preservationist.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on May 05, 2020

    Sand down we’re you could then re paint it make it smooth as you could before painting it

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on May 10, 2020

    Do you have a power washer? I would try it on a small section first before doing the whole thing. Keep in mind it probably has lead based paint on and stripping and sanding will release the lead particles. There are test kits you can buy at the hardware store for lead testing. Good luck and stay safe!