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Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Posted by gardenwebber (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 15, 08 at 14:05

We live in a 1920's farmhouse. I believe this banister is original to the house as we found a piece of the banister used for lumber in our ceiling joists after doing some remodeling recently.

There appears to be 4+ coats of paint. I've never stripped paint before, but thought this might make a good little pet project. We are replacing the carpet and floors next month, so now is the time.

Is it worth the work? Or, should I replace it? Or... should I put another coat of paint on it and forget the whole thing??

Here are some pics:

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Hi, I don't know if putting more paint will look so hot - the edges of the old paint underneath will show through, but stripping all that (persnickety little round spindles with many edges to every detail (where the paint will be hard to get at) is a very tedious job - nothing like a flat table top - and if you can either afford to buy new, or at least get a pro to do the stripping, I think you'll be much better off.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Maybe I should just try doing one baluster to see how much work it really is compared to my threshold for tedious work before I fully commit, huh?

I was thinking about seeing an Amish woodworker about custom milling a replica and replacing it. I just don't know how much $$$ that would run into.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

I've stripped alot of wood and I would definitely give your stair railing a try. I'd get PeelAway 7 and follow the instructions closely. What will make/break the ease in getting the paint off is if you have the right tools. I'd use a 1 1/2" putty knife for the flat/flatter surfaces. HD, Lowe's and alot of paint stores sell a kit of scrapers - the kit comes with 1 handle and 6 interchangeable bits for scraping off paint. I'd also ask your dentist for any old dental picks they might want to get rid of. PeelAway will take off all the layers at once. Do 6-8 balusters at a time. If you run out of PeelAway paper, you can use saran wrap or plastic wrap to cover the goop as it's working.

If you do strip it, I think you'll have such a great sense of accomplishment. Just remember, this won't be a 1 day job, though. Good luck!!


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Ok - I have an additional question, a bit of a "design" question:

What would look best - if I stripped everything, indcluding the white flat piece that is on the side, there, as well as the pieces opposite the ballister, to the right? You can see in the first pic, the right side of the staircase has wood casement, also, in each corner of each step. Would I also strip/refinish that area to match the banister and balusters, and flat piece?


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

keep it for sure,we replaced the prongs on ours I wished we would have kept the old now.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

What look do you want?

In many cases the balusters are designed to be painted, while the actual banister rail was designed for a clear finish.

If you are going to keep painted balusters than remove any excess paint build up and then sand smooth.

The actual banister rail (and sometimes the post) would need to be stripped completely and than refinished.

I prefer brushing lacquer (Deft clear wood finish is one) for banister rails.

With 2-4 coats it provides a good surface and is easily re-coated if it starts to show any wear.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

I have a house from 1878...the back stairway which was added slightly later was painted. I refinished just the hand rail...not too difficult..


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

We recently redid our similarly constructed (but in 1984) stairway. The balusters are white, the stair casing is white. The hand rail is stained and polyed oak. The newel (which is box shaped) is white with an oak top. It looks great. I agree that trying to strip the balusters would be daunting and you might well find that they are a different wood which wouldn't match when stained. All of which is to say I vote for stripping the hand rail and newel post (they're elegant) and leaving the rest white.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

I vote for stripping it. I think it would really look lovely, and be true to the age of the home. It might be a pain (depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing), but I believe worth it, in the end. Has anyone heard of Soy-Gel remover? I'm trying to find folks with "real life" experience with this product, as I would like to strip the pocket doors in the living room.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Strip the handrail, and maybe the knob on the top of the last tall pillar (newelpost?)

Also, if you plan a replacement staircase I'd bet you'd have to add more balusters. They seem to be spaced very far apart.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

In a moment of youthful enthusiasm I stripped an 80 year-old handrail. After an evening of mess, I realized it was not hardwood and was meant to be painted from day one. Which I promptly did.


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

Ok, so after reading all this great advice, here is what I am going to do:

I am going to start with stipping just the handrail and the end piece (from the round ball at the top to the floor - what is this called?)

I think I will keep the balusters and skirt piece on the side painted white. I will loosen up old paint, sand smooth as possible, repaint in our trim color for the house.

Now, how can you tell when something was "meant" to be painted or "meant" to be stained?

I did notice after doing some scraping that the last layer appears to be stain. So, does that mean that this wood must be stain quality?

Any tips on how to keep the paint stripper away from the balusters while I am working on the just the handrail and end post? Would painters tape work?


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RE: Should I strip/refinish or replace banister?

The last post is the newel post; the ball on top is the finial.

how can you tell when something was "meant" to be painted or "meant" to be stained?
In the instance I mentioned, I figured it wasn't meant to be when I found no sign of previous stains as I stripped off the previous layers of finish. Personally, I don't find stained softwoods attractive, aside from pine and that's probably a widely-held opinion. If the rail had been oak, I would have stained it.


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