How To – Resurface Metal Stair Railings

Metal stair railings and balusters can be gorgeous and they certainly give a home a lot of character. However, even the strongest iron can begin to look worn over time. Fortunately, resurfacing iron railings is a lot simpler than it may sound. It’s a project even novice DIY-ers can take on, often with great results. If your railings are in need of a makeover, try these steps to get them looking like new again.

Prepare the Area

Lay down plastic and other protective materials around the railing. Some of the cleaning agents and chemicals used in this project can cause damage to wooden stairs and even strip the paint off walls. In order to avoid creating additional work for yourself, make sure the area is well protected before you begin working.

Remove the Rust

Rusting and corrosion is one of the most common fates to befall old iron railings and fixtures. Some degree of rusting is inevitable when iron comes in contract with oxygen, but in areas where the air is humid and warm it may happen more quickly. While rust may look ugly, removing it is fairly simple. There are several different products you can use to remove rust, but when working with a vertical surface like stair railings, consider a rust-removing gel or jelly that is less likely to run down and pool on the floor. Apply the gel, following application instructions, before removing it with a cloth. The rust should come off at the same time. If rust still remains on the railing, repeat the process one to three additional times.

Apply a Metal Primer

Metal primer helps smooth the surface of the iron and prevents new patches of rust from forming. Use a paintbrush to apply a thin, even coat of primer to railings. Make sure to smooth the coat out as much as possible to prevent bumps from forming. Some brands of primer require you to sand the iron before applying, so check the directions on the one you choose.

Paint and Finish

Once the primer is dry, apply oil-based paint specially designed for use on metal. Black gives the iron a classic look, while silver or another metallic is more modern. When painting iron indoors, choose pain designed for indoor use and work in a well-ventilated area to prevent potentially dangerous fumes from building up. Add a final topcoat to protect the paint to complete the project.

Enjoy your refinished railing. With minimal maintenance and protection, iron railings should last for decades to come.

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