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Thread: Finish Selection for Staircase - Suggestions Needed

  1. #1

    Finish Selection for Staircase - Suggestions Needed

    Staircase consists of American cherry handrail and newel post, iron balusters. Attachment of handrail to wall and newel is lag bolts which will be covered by flush plugs. Knee wall will be painted white. So, the stain finish concern involves only handrail and newel. No problem to dismantle and spray finish those parts. Should I use conversion finish or other? Or, try to finish leaving assembled in place? Finishing disassembled has me worried about getting the plugs in and looking right, especially with a conversion varnish.

  2. #2
    I would not use conversion varnish. Down the road someone will want to change the color ,and they will butcher the rail.
    The feel of the wood rail is a nice incidental pleasure. Traditionaly wooden hand rails are silky and dark.

  3. #3
    I see your point, Mel. Although the functional handrail is metal on opposite side. Here's a photo for clarification:

    image.jpg

  4. #4
    Well,it's certainly nice to have rail on both sides. But the black metal looks severe to me,I would paint it with semi gloss
    same color as the wall. Dark stain and wax for newel and rail. light color paint for balusters. But I'm an admitted traditionalist .

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    I would finish it in place with a wiping varnish; Arm-R-Seal, Waterlox, etc. You can use most any dye or stain under them, if desired.

    John

  6. #6
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    Definitely finish in place. Wiping varnish will work well, though personally I like shellac on stair rails. It's fast so the stairs aren't out of commission for any meaningful time. For me, I am particularly fond of the feel under hand of shellac. It's also easy to repair or refresh.

  7. #7
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    Finish in place. Use whatever is your favourite poison. Shellac will wear out too quickly. John has the best idea. Cheers

  8. #8
    Also, what do you think, satin or gloss on the handrail and newel? I appreciate the suggestions and finish in place it will be. It will be several days before I get to it so feel free to chime in on additional clear finish brands. Stain will be a Mission Brown to match the cabinets and shelf on the adjacent wall here which I also made:

    image.jpeg
    Last edited by Ron Corselli; 08-14-2018 at 2:29 AM.

  9. #9
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    Which sheen to use is completely personal preference. Looking at your photo (beautiful work) suggests to me that gloss or semi gloss would be a good choice. Nothing shows off the grain better than gloss. Plus, satin will become glossy over time as people rub their hands along the rail.

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    Only the top of the rail will see any wear so shellac will be fine if you topcoat the rail with wiping varnish. Unfortunately you will loose the nice feel of wood.

    I agree with Mel that the metal handrail looks out of place even though it matches the balusters. But white is not going to look any better. Both in another color might work.

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