September 18, 2011

The Painted Railing

It's done! This is the second biggest project I've done so far. The first one, painting the kitchen cabinets, still takes the cake. But this one was a close, close second. Doesn't it look better?

Here's the before pics:

... and the after:

Last October, we were quoted at $2,500 to have the railing and all of the trim work painted in the main living area of our house. Are you kidding me? I said "NO WAY" and have been slowly working at it, section by section, since January. We've got one bedroom and three windows left to paint- the rest of the woodwork in the house is finished.

I'll be honest, this project was a ton of work. But 100% worth it in the end. There were some snags (the botched hand rail staining), but it feels great to be done. Well, practically. The whole thing needs some polyurethane, but it can wait.

If you too are contemplating painting your railing, here's what you need (and what you need to know):
  • Paint and primer. Surprisingly, not much of it. I probably used 1/3 of a can on Zinsser primer, and maaaaaybe one can of paint.
  • Dry wall repair and paintable caulk
  • Good paintbrushes (I used an 1 1/2" brush)
  • PATIENCE! And lots of it. And maybe 30 free hours to paint.
Start by wiping down the woodwork to remove any dust, hair, etc. This goes quick.

Tape off the carpet (I use duck tape and wedge it down into the crack where the woodwork and the carpet meet.) Tape off the walls, too.

Next, caulk ALL gaps and seams. Really, truly, this needs to be done. It's the difference between a professional looking paint job and a really crappy DIY one (which, is what you're doing- the DIY not the crappy part, but you want it to LOOK professional:). Caulking all gaps, seams and cracks (ie. where the hand rail meets the trim, the base of the spindles) ensures that the painting will look smooth and continuous.

Now bust out your smelly but glorious can of primer and paint away. This coat doesn't need to look good- crazy brush strokes are okay.

Now finish with two coats of paint. I love love love Behr's Premium Plus Ultra paint. It covers really well, and is pretty thick. Be VERY watchful for drips- I tried my darnedest to catch them all, but they still decided to show up. After both coats were dry, I chiseled them off with a putty knife type of tool and then touched up the spot with paint.

I'm not kidding when I say that this may have taken 30 hours- I didn't keep track, but it's probably a close estimate. My plan was to go slow and steady- I get very impatient and tend to start projects well and finish them sloppily. So, I'd spend time painting the railing (the spindles were the WORST!) in two hour chunks while listening to Christian talk radio. While I was self-inducing carpal tunnel, at least my soul was being fed:). I'm not kidding, it really was so encouraging!

I think the railing being white totally transforms the look of our home. I hated this project while I was doing it, but LOVE it now that it's done. And, now Leo matches the trim.

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