How to Paint a Stair Rail

It’s June, friends!! Can you believe it?! Our oldest child graduated high school almost 3 weeks ago… ugh! How does time pass so quickly?! As we prepared for a flurry of out of town guests for her big day, I found myself doing little projects to spruce up the house. One such project allowed me to paint a stair rail- super easy and cheap! And the change added nice dimension to our living space.

From the moment I stepped foot in our home, I fell in love with the open railing to the second story. It is wrought iron design, making it feel extra spacious and open to the second level! The loft is our gaming area for the kids, a space for them and their friends to play video games, board games, and watch TV. I love that the open railing keeps the upstairs space from feeling completely separate from the lower living area! The wrought iron rail is my favorite; the top of the rail, well, was 80s oak. Here is a picture of the stair rail before:

Have to love that orange oak!!


Initially, I went back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to use black or white paint. In the end, black won. I decided a crisp black chalk paint would provide nice contrast to the white wall paint and white trim, and it bring the railing into the current decade! I grabbed some black paint and quickly turned it into chalk paint by mixing the following:

  • one cup latex paint
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons Plaster of Paris (found here)

I feel that the black not only eliminates the oak, it adds a seamless, more finished look to the stairway overall! While chalk paint is not a necessity for this project, I did use it because I like the way chalk paint grabs smooth surfaces. Also, I did not want to sand the railing and chalk paint allows you to skip this (messy) step!


This project was super easy. Here are the supplies I used:

Before you start painting, you need to place painters tape over the wall spaces that connect to the railing. This will prevent black paint from getting on your wall. Once you have done this, you are good to start painting!

Here are some shots of the finished rail upstairs:

The difference is amazing! I truly wish I had a “before” picture of the railing upstairs. The best I have is this picture w/ Christmas decor:

…or is this just my way of revisiting Christmas decor in June?! Ummm… I will never tell!

You get the picture, right? That 80s oak is peeking through!

This job was quick and cheap, and made a big impact on our stairway. Two coats took me less than two hours to complete, and more than half of that was due to drying time in between the first and second coats. That is what I am talking about!

Looking for another quick project that can make a big impact? Click here to see how to paint a table!

What small changes have you made around your home that made a big impact?! Let’s share ideas!