Asked on Feb 27, 2015

Should I paint or stain the newel post on my steps?

by Mrs.T
I'm in the middle of a staircase remodel, and I just can't decide what to do with the newel post. It's currently stained, but very worn. If I choose to stain it, I will have to sand it and restain it to match the new stain on the stair treads. Another option would be to stain the ball at the top, and then paint the rest of the post white, like the balusters. This may give the staircase a more up to date look. Or I could do something else entirely, I guess. Thoughts?
  22 answers
  • Catherine Lough Catherine Lough on Feb 27, 2015
    I would paint it to match the balusters. I would also paint the hand rails.
  • Susan Susan on Feb 27, 2015
    I would paint it white.
  • Jane Jane on Feb 27, 2015
    I would paint the post white to match the balusters, and leave the rails to match the steps.
  • Fab and Pretty Fab and Pretty on Feb 27, 2015
    yes, it looks like it wants to match the spindles!
  • Lori Lori on Feb 27, 2015
    Yep, paint it. You don't even notice it the way it is.
  • John John on Feb 28, 2015
    You see it painted now. How does it look? You also have the end non painted. If you can, imagine all the stanchions not painted. What do you think looks better? The stain will make the stairs darker, the paint will bring brightness to the banisters. I have my rails stained because they're oak, and my wife and I enjoy real wood. I included a picture of my railings, taken at Christmas time. As you can see, we have the steps carpeted. The steps are made of cheap pine/or plywood. We could of put wood in when we did our down stairs, entry, and dining room, and the steps from the down stairs to the entry. We felt at the time, wood would get a lot of friction abuse and wear and not look as sharp. So we covered the pine wood, and added white oak which I stained, the banister and the strip going up the wall dividing two different paint styles and colors. The real choice comes down to what will you enjoy looking at, and will what you do complement everything around it. Flat or chalk paint is out. You need something that has shine and brings brightness into the area, be it paint or stain. You have the side part painted white as I do, and it is a great complement to what ever you decide. If you are going to pint the stairs, consider a contrasting paint for the rail stanchions. If you paint the stairs, make them dark on tip, and white on the kick-plate. Like I said, what do you want to look at for the next ten years?
  • Taylor @ TayRose Design Taylor @ TayRose Design on Feb 28, 2015
    I would paint it like the spindles and I would paint the risers white and I would leave the bannister and the top of the steps stained. :-)
  • Minda Barlow Minda Barlow on Feb 28, 2015
    White gets dirty very fast. I would leave it like it is. You'll be washing it twice a day. ?
    • John John on Feb 28, 2015
      @Minda Barlow It gets dirty if you use the wrong paint. Semigloss will not collect stains. We use it on all our baseboards, and in the kitchen on the walls and ceilings. No stains. If there are smudge marks, soft cloth and light warm water and soap cleans it quickly. Unless you have a day care in the house or one boy, there should not be a worry.
  • Delyse Tomaselli Delyse Tomaselli on Feb 28, 2015
    Paint the spindles and the hand rails white. Paint the risers white. Stain the steps black.
  • Joe schmutz Joe schmutz on Feb 28, 2015
    I did stained newell and banister , painted white balusters and white risers, I think it looks good
  • Tumauni Tumauni on Feb 28, 2015
    I would paint the spindles and the stair boxes white but leave the bannister and the step tops looks really sharp
  • Connie-Jo Nellis Connie-Jo Nellis on Feb 28, 2015
    I've never had steps like this but I DO a lot of looking at home decor. My suggestion is to paint the post, leave the ball stained, leave the hand rails stained, and consider painting the risers of the steps. Only problem I see with painting the risers is toe scuffs and possible chipping of paint over time. See the sides of your risers are already painted so to paint the step risers the same would be more consistent. Do not paint the hand rails or the ball itself. Too much cleaning!
  • B B on Feb 28, 2015
    I like your idea to stain the ball and paint the post white. It would fit in nicely.
  • Antami Antami on Feb 28, 2015
    Two things: 1) there is a neet app for iphone/ipad called Paint Tester. It lets you "paint" a photo of your subject in order to see what a wall, cabinets, or anything for that matter, might look like after painted. Its not a complicated app, nor is it perfect, but it certainly is helpful. 2) I haven't used them yet, but gel stains, Im told, are really nice to work with. p.s. a photo o a paint scheme you might consider.
  • Barb Burnham Barb Burnham on Feb 28, 2015
    I agree to paint it from floor up to just under the boxed handle part. I would be creative with the risers (the part where your toes might touch not the tread part where you actually set your feet). You could paint them white and stencil or free hand a special Bible or poetry verse, a saying in your family that is special, but at least one word needs to go on every riser for balance. Say along the lines of "Our family loves, laughs, gives away warm hugs and kisses freely and forgives easily."
  • Wendy Wendy on Mar 01, 2015
    Stain it. Just think of future generations,and saving them from the agony of stripping paint!
  • Mrs.T Mrs.T on Mar 01, 2015
    Well, thanks everyone for the insight. Here's what (I think) I've decided to do. I have always planned to paint the risers white. I'm going to go ahead and sand and stain the banister and newel post a slightly darker color than the color I used on the stair treads. The spindles will be the same white as the risers. If I end up hating the stain, I can easily go back and paint over it. If I remember, I'll post pics after.
  • Mrs.T Mrs.T on Apr 10, 2015
    What the finished product looks like. Now to start on the wall paint!
  • Lori Lori on Apr 28, 2015
    I was going to say paint the post, but what you've done looks really good. Good job.
  • Mary Dodge Mary Dodge on Aug 05, 2018

    I know I'm 3 years late getting into this discussion, but I am looking for DIY ways others have done on the newel post. I have been in my 1940s house for over 40 years. The post was painted when I moved in. I've raised 4 kids in this house, and the newel post has been a constant maintenance problems. It doen't matter what kind of paint is used, oil and dirt from little and big hands deteriorates and softens the paint. I've repainted countless times! After looking at the result of this blog, I'm going to try to sand off the newel down to base and stain and seal the post so it matches my hardwood handrail (my spindles are white, they've survived). So for all of you who said paint it white... if you've got kids, and no live=in housekeeper to wipe the post down daily, avoid the paint. Thanks for keeping this blog available!

  • Lloyd Lloyd on Jul 02, 2020

    I'm 4 or 5 years late on my response. ( and could also use suggestions). We had stained rails and newell. Cleaned, oil based primer, latex semi-gloss white. Later, cleaning with soft cloth and light soap the paint gets SOFT AND RUBS OFF!. ( prep and painting guidance by paint store). So, later, anther paint store advises you can coat the latex with polyurethane which will harden the surface. It did help some but is now beginning again after 2 years. Is there any way to keep this from happening on areas that require frequent cleaning?. Thanks.