Stain your Stair Railing for a Quick Update

My staircase was previously an outdated orange wood tone, as it seems most builders-grade homes are today. It just looked so dirty and cheap (see picture below). I knew I had to stain my stair railing and I wanted to update the staircase without spending a lot of money.

I decided to update the color of the staircase by using Varathane stain with poly in the color Kona Semi-Gloss. The Kona stain matched my Java Scraped Oak Pergo floors perfectly. Aside from that though, it was almost like it took a cheap looking staircase away and gave it an instant upgrade.

Paint or Stain Stair Railing
It’s like a spray tan gone wrong for staircases

Items Used for this Project:

  • 1 quart of Varathane stain with poly in the color Kona Semi-Gloss.
  • Wooster Pro Nylon/Polyester Thin Angle Sash Brush 2 inch
  • Lots of rags and drop clothes
  • Painters tape
  • Mask
  • Gloves

STEP 1: Clean Staircase

I first wiped down the staircase with a damp sponge to remove any residue or dust from any areas that were going to be stained. After I wiped the staircase with a damp sponge, I dried the staircase with a towel and placed several drop clothes under the areas that I would be staining. I also, used painters’ tape around the top and bottom of the spindles to achieve a clean line.

STEP 2: Stain Stair Railing

To apply the first coat of stain, I used a Wooster Pro Nylon/Polyester Thin Angle Sash Brush 2 inch. I lightly applied the stain in the same direction of the grain of the wood.

How to Paint Stairs

Just a heads up, the first coat of stain did not look very good, it looked very streaky. I waited about 2 hours in between each coat, and after the 2nd coat the staircase started to look much better.

I used a total of 3 coats to complete the staircase. No need for a topcoat because there is already a topcoat built into this stain. I stained this staircase 3 years ago and it still looks amazing!


  • Be sure to wear a mask and open windows as this stain has a very strong odor.
  • Also, wear gloves so the stain does not stick to your skin.
  • To save money place the brush into a zip lock bag after the first application of stain. The brush will stay damp in the zip lock bag for a few days, so you can reuse the brush.

That’s it. It’s really that’s easy to get rid of a cheap looking staircase for your enjoyment or even potential buyers. Hit me up with any questions below and check our other posts to see how we saved over $8,000 on DIY projects!

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