How to Paint Outdoor Stair Railings

What You'll Need
Primer that is suited for your railing material
Oil based paint that is suited for your railing material
Paintbrushes both natural bristles for the paint, and acrylic bristles for the primer
Sander or wire brush
Paint stripper
Drop cloth
Paint tray with liners

If your outdoor stair railings are looking a worn and flaky, there are a few simple steps you can take to repair them. The railings can really bring down the look of a home and make a poor first impression for your visitors. Time and wear can make them look battered, but it is easy to get them looking great again with a little elbow grease and paint. A smart looking railing will increase the value of your home and make an elegant statement. 

Step 1 – Fix all Fastenings

Whether your railing is wood or metal, you will be able to do a more professional job if you are able to take the railing apart. If not, take a close look at all fasteners and joins. Any movement in the ground, or people leaning on it can cause any screws and bolts be loosened over time. Tighten any loose bolts and joins. Fill or remold any rotting wood. It the rot is extensive, you will need to buy new railings to replace the rotted ones. 

Step 2 – Remove All Paint

Wood railings - You will need to remove all old and flaking paint or varnish down to the grain. Allow the railing to completely dry if it has any dampness at all.

Metal railings – Use the wire brush to remove all trace of rust and flaking paint. 

Step 3 – Apply Primer

Lay the drop cloth under the area. Then apply the primer from the top to the bottom. This technique is required so you are not getting drips down onto already primed surfaces.

Wood railings – Apply an exterior primer, making sure you get into all nooks and crannies. Allow to dry.

Metal railings -  Apply an exterior primer, making sure you get into all holes, around bolts, and corners. Allow to dry.

Step 4 – Apply Topcoat

Making sure you start on a mild to warm morning, when you can be sure that it will not rain all day, paint the railings. Paint from the top down, using a sturdy paintbrush, and allow to dry. Apply a second coat, taking care that all surfaces are covered and no spots have been missed. Then, you can wash up the paintbrushes.

If your are deciding between an oil or stain, you should know the effects of each type of paint. An oil based paint is usually better for outdoors use because it does not raise the grain of the wood and stands up to harsher conditions well. If you prefer to stain your rails, buy a stain that has a deck sealer in it so the rails won’t dry out as quickly as with a normal stain. 

If your railings need to be replaced because the paint does not help, you can use new all-weather PVC railings. These will need less maintenance and will maintain their appeal longer than other types of railings.