When you have stairs in your home, that means you have handrails or guardrails along those stairs for security. Stairs and handrails that see a lot of traffic will also see a lot of wear and tear. Over time, that can lead to damage that needs to be addressed. One of the best ways to help reduce the effect of this wear and tear is to refinish the railings on a regular basis. The good news is that this is something you can do on your own. Here's a look at what you need to know about the proper steps for refinishing your handrails.
Start With Proper Preparation
Refinishing isn't going to do you any good if the railings aren't properly prepared. The best place to start is to clean the entire surface. Create a mixture of warm water and an all-purpose cleaner. Use that cleaner with a damp sponge to clean the entire surface of the railings. Once you've done that, wipe it down with a clean, dry rag. Let the railings sit for a few hours to dry completely before you do anything else. The surface needs to be fully dry before you proceed.
Apply some painter's tape to the hardware that's connecting the railings to the wall and the stairs. That protects all of the hardware so that it doesn't get scratched while you're working. Finally, spread newspaper out on the floor below the railings to protect your stairs from any drips or debris.
Remove The Existing Finish
Before you can apply a new finish to the railing, you have to remove the existing one. Start with medium-grit sandpaper on a hand sander. Use the hand sander along the surface of the railing, following the wood grain. Repeat this process until the immediate surface finish is gone.
Replace the sandpaper with a fine-grit variety. Sand the entire surface of the railing again with the fine-grit sandpaper. Once you've done that, swap the sandpaper again, using an ultra-fine grit. Repeat the process until the railing surface is completely smooth.
Apply The New Finish
When you're refinishing wood railings, one important thing to consider is that you should always start with fresh stain products. Open a brand new can of stain and stir it thoroughly with a paint stick. The tint used in the stain can sometimes settle a bit, so mixing it ensures that the color is consistent all the way through.
The best way to apply the new stain is using a clean, dry rag. Dip the rag into the container of stain. Let it stop dripping first, then wipe it along the surface of the railing. Use long, consistent strokes to apply the stain evenly along the railing. Take a second clean, dry rag and wipe the whole thing down again to get rid of any excess stain on the surface. Let it dry for a while, then repeat the entire process. Keep repeating this process until the wood color matches the finish that you're looking for.
Seal The Finish
Once the last coat of the stain is dry, it's time to seal the finish to protect it. Use a clear polyurethane to do this. Stir it well, then use a fine-bristle paint brush to apply the sealant. Apply it in an even, consistent layer to seal the entire surface. Let the coat of polyurethane dry completely, which usually takes 24 hours or so.
This is the best way to refinish your home's handrails. If you want to keep them in good condition, do this periodically. If your railings are too heavily worn or damaged, you may need to have them replaced altogether. Talk with a local company like Diamond Iron LLC to find out about your options to install a new handrail.