Banister Makeover With No Sanding or Stripping

Pretty Distressed
by Pretty Distressed
4 Materials
7 Days
This video tutorial demonstrates how to stain a banister without sanding or stripping using General Finishes Gel Stain and paint with water based primer and paint.
This project is time consuming, but definitely doable for anyone who likes to paint. It does not involve stripping the existing finish which will save you some time and create less mess. I chose a two toned look to match the banister to the floors we put in on our main level.

I used mineral spirits and denatured alcohol to clean the gunk off of the banister With a scotch pad. Then I gave it a light sanding with a 220 sanding block. There is no need to sand down to the bare wood. I used General Finishes Gel Stain. It’s so pigmented you can stain over an existing finish. Just paint it on with a foam brush and wipe off the excess with a lint free cloth.

For the spindles, I used a Zinnser Bulleye 2 primer. This primer sticks to wood without sanding, and its stain blocking too. I finished the spindles with Sherwin Williams ProClassic which is designed for trim and doors. It’s durability is a great choice for a banister and the formula help smooth out brush strokes.
This project involves a lot of taping, prepping and painting. While it is time consuming, you definitely don’t need to be an expert painter to achieve it. You skip out on the mess of using a chemical stripper or a sanding mess by not stripping the wood completely. And it definitely beats replacing the whole banister in the cost department.
Here is the side by side comparison of the banister. Check out the video on YouTube for an in depth tutorial on the process.
Resources for this project:
General Finishes High Performance Topcoat -Flat
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Pretty Distressed
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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Katie N Katie N on May 18, 2019

    Why is general finishes a better get stain than minwax other brands? Just finding it hard to locate and wondering if I could use another brand. Thanks!

  • Jen Jen on Aug 18, 2019

    How did you do the lofted area? Tall ladder? This part seems tricky to get to. I am getting started on just painting the balusters white.

  • Jennifer Gile Jennifer Gile on Jul 14, 2020

    Question, on the part of the stairs where you have the stair brackets, did you take those down or just stain around them? I am going to attempt this project and wasn't sure what to do about that part...

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