How to Paint Railing Spindles in 5 Easy Steps

Painting your porch spindles is an easy and quick way to update the look of your home. Spindle railings are a dramatic architectural detail that can add style, charm, and elegance to any entrance or room.

The best part about painting spindle railing is that it’s an inexpensive DIY project with a professional finish. Whether you’re looking for something more traditional or want to experiment with colour on your porch, there are many ways paint can transform this focal point of your home exterior!

This article will teach you how to paint railing spindles in a few simple steps.

Step 1: Lightly sand the spindles and handrails

Before painting railing spindles, always ensure that your canvas is clean and free from loose or flaking old paint. The first step is to lightly sand the spindles and handrails to remove any dirt or debris stuck on the surface. Not only does this make them look and feel smoother, but it also prevents adhesive problems.

Sanding involves the process of rendering the wooden fibers uniformly rough by creating tiny ridges. With the pores of the wood opened, the spindles and handrails have a more adhesive surface that allows the primer and paint to stick well.  

Any handrails and spindles that are glossy or sealed with a slick surface sealant should also be sanded dull. The protective lacquer on the surface can affect the bond of the primer and paint. Your paint will likely peel later because of the lack of adhesion.

You can use 80 to 100 grit sandpaper to get the job done faster. If you have no budget restrictions, there are circle-shaped sandpapers designed for spindles. But if you prefer saving money, you can wrap a regular square sheet around the spindle. Afterwards, ensure that the spindles and handrails are dust-free.

Step 2: Use a liquid deglosser

As mentioned before, any sealant from a previous paint job should be removed before painting railing spindles since it can affect the surface adhesiveness. Now aside from sanding, another way to prepare clear coated, varnished, or sealed spindles for a new coat is by using a liquid deglosser.

These liquid deglossers, often referred to as liquid sandpapers, contain chemicals that remove paint, varnish, lacquer, enamel, polyurethane, and stain. Using this liquid chemical is even considered to be much easier than dulling out the gloss with sandpaper.

Keep in mind that liquid deglossers should only be used to dull old spindles. These liquid sandpapers are not the same as actual sandpapers. If the surfaces are irregular, scratched, or rough, only sanding and not these chemical solutions can smooth them.

If your spindles are free from clear coats or varnish, you can use a simple degreaser such as dish soap and warm water. Just wash the surface down and dry it properly before starting the next step.

Step 3: Use painter’s tape to section off areas

Painting railing spindles or any DIY projects can turn messy. That’s why it’s always best to be safe and cautious, so don’t skip on this step. Before starting with the new paint job, get some painter’s tape and put it on any area you don’t want to get paint on.

Spindles are easy to paint if you don’t have them installed yet. You can take them outdoors and paint them there before placing each piece on the railings. But if the spindles are already in place, using the painter’s tape will make your job easier.

Not only will it help you achieve crisp, clean lines, but you will also have less mess to clean up. Just make sure you have the flooring, baseboards, walls, and handrail’s undersides covered. Since the spindles’ in-between spots are hard to reach, you should also tape along their inner edges.

Step 4: Prime the spindles if needed

You can skip this step and start painting railing spindles if you’re using trim paint and primer in one. But if you’re using regular paint, then priming the spindles will help seal up the wood. Keep in mind that all these preparations before the actual painting are keys to a long-lasting paint job.

Without a primer, your paint will soak into the spindles, which means you’ll have to paint several coats to achieve the result you want. A good layer of quality primer also helps enhance the overall finish of your spindles.

If your spindles haven’t been painted before and you plan to use acrylic paint for this project, you need an oil-based primer instead of latex. But if they are already previously painted, a latex primer is a good choice for your spindles since they stick better to finished surfaces.

You can use a foam roller to apply the primer easily and save time. Roll it on one coat of primer and work on the spindles from top to bottom one at a time. If you can’t get into all the groves and corners, come back to those afterwards using an angled brush. Allow for adequate drying time before the next step.

Step 5: Give it a paint job

Once the primer is completely dry, you can start painting railing spindles. Again, work on the spindles one at a time. Start at the top and paint straight down, then move to the sides without overlapping your strokes. You can use an angled brush to cover the areas you can’t reach with the roller.

Dip your roller evenly into the tray and ensure it’s not saturated. If you notice drips on the spindle as you paint, you’re applying too much paint at once. It should only feel more like a dry application. If there are dripping paints, smooth them with a roller and clean them before they dry.  

Try to get the paint as consistent as possible, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look great at first. Depending on your primer, you will usually need two to three coats of paint for solid coverage. The extra layer provides you with the opportunity to correct any mistakes.

Check each spindle for any mistakes or areas left uncovered. Let each coat dry before applying the next. You can check the can of paint to see how long it takes for it to dry. Ensure that no one touches them while it’s still drying.  

Final thoughts on how to paint railing spindles

Painting railing spindles doesn’t have to be complicated with correct and adequate prep work. By smoothing the surface through sanding, removing the gloss, and using a primer, your new coat stays on and looks great for a long time without any problems. With these few simple steps on how to paint railing spindles, your spindle is going to look brand new.

But if you want a guaranteed professional-looking paint job, no other company does it better than industry-recognized Calgary painters, Earl’s Paintworks. We focus not only on top-quality painting services but also thorough and detailed preparation to create stunning finished painting projects. Ready to enhance your living space? Call us at (403) 701-4243 today to schedule your appointment and get a free quote!