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!

Pamela Vigneault
Pamela Vigneault
We hired Earl and his crew to paint the baseboards & walls of our basement. He is very good at answering emails and texts. Also is punctual when meeting for quotes and doing the work. I specifically wanted our baseboards lacquered and NOT brush or roller painted. It cost more, but the results speak for themselves. The basement was left clean and the furniture well covered. Great work from this company. Would recommend
Lorraine Townsend
Lorraine Townsend
Recently Earl painted the exterior of our house. The structure was very challenging and needed an enormous amount of prep work. Earl and his crew showed up every day on time and went full tilt for 4 days to get all the prep and painting done. The paint was all brushed and rolled.They were very professional and it was obvious that they take pride in their work.I did have trouble deciding on the colours and after a couple of stressful months, I followed up with a colour consultant that Earl recommended. It was money well spent and we are very pleased with how it turned out.I would not hesitate to recommend Earl and his crew.
Earl and his team helped me dramatically improve the interior of a recently purchased 1960 Bungalow. They prepped and painted the main level completely (ceiling, walls, windows, door jams, etc.) and did some painting in basement as well. Easy to work with from the start to finish. Great job, on time, and at a reasonable price. I highly recommend Earl’s Paintworks. I will most likely be using their services again soon!
Jenn Balderston
Jenn Balderston
Earl is the best in the business! We hired Earl to paint the exterior of our 106 year-old heritage home that was in disrepair. Our house is a craftsman bungalow that required highly detailed workmanship. Because of the uniqueness of the house, and its heritage value, we were nervous to hire the job out to just anyone. We met with a number of companies and Earl's Paintworks stood tall above the rest. We loved that Earl was an owner/operator and knew after talking to him that he'd take great care with our beloved home. We weren't wrong! Earl and Jeremy were meticulous - sanding every nook and cranny to ensure a perfect finish that would stand the test of time. We wanted a tri-colour scheme to show off the home's craftsmanship, which required a lot of taping, cutting, and intricate work. Our neighbours would stop by to compliment Earl and Jeremy - blown away by the precision and quality of their work. Both my fiancé and I were sad to see them leave. Earl and Jeremy had become fast friends, always making time to stop and visit with us (despite putting in long days of hard labour). Couldn't recommend them enough! If you are looking for a painter, do yourself a favour, and stop here.
Julie Sontag
Julie Sontag
We recently hired Earl's Paintworks to repaint the entire interior of a newly-purchased home and could not be more pleased with the quality of the work and exceptional service provided from start to finish. We were on a very tight timeline & Earl (the owner) and Jeremy showed up ready to work 30 minutes after we took possession of the house. They put in long hours to finish the job in only 8.5 days, despite the fact that it was a massive project (3 storey house with over 30 windows/doors to paint around and some 20ft ceilings). The care they took to cover our hardwood floors, carpeting and cabinetry was remarkable - not a drop of paint left anywhere it didn't belong.Earl was truly a pleasure to work with, responded to our questions in a timely & friendly fashion, and provided knowledgeable (and realistic) advice on different finishes and colour options. He even went above and beyond to point out some small repairs that needed to be addressed around the house which was helpful to us as new owners. We had 4 different companies quote on the job and chose Earl's Paintworks based on a gut feeling that Earl was the right choice. Very happy with our decision - so much so that we're hoping to have them back this summer to do the exterior of our house as well.We would recommend Earl's Paintworks to anyone without hesitation. If you're looking for a hardworking, locally-owned company to do an efficient, professional, super high quality job, this is it!
Ken Cheung
Ken Cheung
We wanted the interior and doors repainted in our home in preparation for selling. We obtained a couple of quotes from painters. We ended up choosing Earl due to our positive interactions with him.This is a small but very professional company. It was good to work with a smaller company where the person painting your home is the actual owner and therefore, someone who took full responsibility for the work. Earl was very helpful with colour suggestions. He was easy to communicate with via both emails, phone calls and text. Earl was a perfectionist. He finished our 2 level 2000 sq ft home in about 6 full days. He came a few weeks later to do the exterior doors (garage and entry) when the weather was warmer.I would not hesitate to recommend Earl's Paintworks.