Improving the Interior and Exterior of Your Home

How To Refinish An Old Wooden Staircase Balustrade

A wooden staircase balustrade can add a nice traditional touch to your home décor scheme, but time and use can result in damage and wear, leaving the wood looking tired and tatty.  However, with a little DIY know-how and effort, you can revitalise and refinish your old wooden staircase balustrade.  Read on to find out how to do it.

What you'll need

If you don't already have these items in your workshop, they can all be obtained from good DIY stores.

  • sandpaper (low and high-grit)
  • electric sander (hire one from a tool hire shop if you don't have your own)
  • painter's masking tape
  • paint brushes
  • wood stain
  • poly semi-gloss
  • drop cloth
  • lint-free cloths
  • rubber gloves
  • face mask
  • vacuum cleaner

How to do it

  1. The first job that you have to do is to sand down the balustrade to get rid of any old paint or varnish.  Before you start, put down the drop cloth to protect your carpets and flooring.  Always wear a face mask for sanding jobs to prevent the inhalation of fine dust particles.  Begin with the high-grit sandpaper, starting at top of the staircase and working your way down.  Here's where an electric sander comes into its own as it will save you many hours of painful hand-sanding, and achieve a smoother finish.   
  2. The high-grit sandpaper is great for cutting through layers of old, caked-on varnish.  Once you've finished this stage, change to the low-grit sandpaper and repeat the process.  The low-grit sandpaper is perfect for smoothing the wood in readiness for re-staining.  
  3. Now, use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe down the wood.  This gets rid of any residual dust that you don't want clogging up the new stain as you apply it.  
  4. Once you've reached this stage, it's a good idea to vacuum around your work area to get rid of the dust and debris from the sanding process so that it doesn't get trodden into other areas of the house.  
  5. Now, apply the painter's tape to protect any areas that you don't want stained.  
  6. Now you're ready to apply the stain.  Always work in a logical order, i.e. start at the top of the stairs and work down.  This will allow you to catch any drips as you go along, and therefore makes for a nice, even finish.  Allow the first coat of wood stain to touch-dry overnight, and then decide if you want to apply a second coat.  
  7. When you're happy with the final colour and the stain is dry, wipe down the wood using a damp lint-free cloth to get rid of any dust.   
  8. Now, you need to apply the poly semi-gloss.  This provides a protective coating to the wood stain and gives a nice, shiny finish.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product packaging, and apply the poly using a clean paint brush.  
  9. Allow the poly to dry, and then lightly sand it using the fine-grit sandpaper.  Sanding the poly will effectively shine it up, so keep going until you reach the finish you want.  Complete the job by wiping down the wood with a damp, lint-free cloth.

In conclusion

With a little time and effort, and by following the guidelines given above, you can return your wooden staircase balustrade to its former glory.