Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Updating Your Wood Railings (New House Project)

So I have what feels like the never ending to do list for a couple of months now. It started when we decided to sell our last house - lots of little projects I wanted to complete before we put it on the market. Mostly painting...NOT my favorite!  Then we started in on the new house literally the day after we completed the projects on the previous one. And I am still going over 2 months later.....
Since I am doing all these projects I thought I should share some of them that may be helpful.  For instance the last week I have been working on changing the color of all the railing in my house (I had no idea how much there actually was until I started the project!).  

When we bought this house we decided to have the floors refinished before we moved in. I had my heart set on a very light, muted, casual floor. After looking at many many samples (and my husband wanting to check out the darker stains too) we ended up having them do a custom mix that would give my husband the depth he was looking for and me the softness and varied muted wood grained I wanted.  

We ended up using a blend of Classic Gray and Weathered Oak to get the "weathered" soft look I was going for. 

When I saw the floors done my heart skipped a beat - PERFECTION!!  

These pics were before the poly was added. I did go with a mix of "matte" and "semi-gloss" poly - heavier on the "matte". I really wanted to see the grain and variation in the oak, but make it soft with pretty much no shine at all. The more the grain in the wood the more of the gray it took on. The floors actually look "soft"!

And here is a section after the poly was done. In pictures you can't see the gray or "weathered" look as much as in person, but you kind of get the idea....no shine/soft/lots of variation.

But then I looked at the stairway railing. It was yellow - or orange.....well, all I know for sure is it looked terrible with the new floor stain. 

(This is actually the lower level railing because I forgot to take a good "before" pic of the upstairs railing, but it looks exactly the same)

I asked my floor guy about the railing and he said they could do it for me or he told me how I could just do it myself (and save a ton of money). Done!  

So I went to Lowe's and gathered up all the supplies he said I would need and set out to work.  

Here's what I bought: 
Very Fine sandpaper for finishing.
A course sandpaper to strip the old poly and stain from the railings.

Rags for wiping on the stain and for clean up.
A brush for the Poly coat.

Clear fast drying poly in a satin finish.

Minwax Wood Stain in Classic Gray and Weathered Oak to mix - I did a 1 part Classic Gray to 2 parts Weathered Oak.

Step 1:  I started by using the coarse sandpaper and really getting all the old finish off the railings. After getting the finish off I switched over to the very fine sandpaper to get everything really smooth again.
I finished up this step by taking a damp rag and wiping down all the surfaces I had just sanded to remove all the dust. 
  This step too me pretty much an entire day (did I mention how much railing there is in this house?!).  Your arms will be SO tired!!

Step 2: The following day I mixed my stains in a plastic cup and applied them by dipping my rag into the cup and then removing the access stain on the inside edge of the cup before wiping the railing with it (so it didn't drip everywhere while applying). 
I also kept a clean damp rag with me so that if I got any of the stain where it wasn't supposed to go I could quickly and easily wipe it off. 
After about 15 minutes I would go back over the railings lightly with a clean rag to wipe off all the access stain that wasn't absorbed into the wood. Then the railings need to dry for 4-6 hours before applying another coat of stain. 
I did this step 4 times over the coarse of 2 days. You can do it as many times as you want to get the color/effect you want just making sure you allow at least 4 hours in-between coats. 

Step 3: On day 4 I was finally ready to put the poly on! I used my brush and gently applied a light coat of the poly onto the railing. Caution: do not shake your polyurethane can prior to using. It will cause bubbles in the poly coat that will remain in your finish! After allowing this to dry about 4 hours I lightly sanded the finish with my very fine sandpaper. I then took a damp rag and wiped all the dust off before adding a 2nd (and final) poly coat to the railings. 

And that's all!  I am SO pleased with the results and it really wasn't all that difficult (and it saved me a ton of money over having it done professionally!! :)

Here are the results:

Looks great, right?!  I can't tell you how happy I am with the results. I didn't take pictures of all the two story areas, but they look amazing too.
Here is a pic of the catwalk you see from the entry:

And part of the upstairs hallway railing:
It no longer clashes with the stair treads! :)

I hope that this has been inspiring for someone and if you have been thinking about updating your stairways and railings that you feel like it is certainly a project you can tackle successfully now!