Best Options for Refinishing My Atlanta Indoor Stair Handrails

Welcome back good people of Metro Atlanta and today’s article is based on a frequently asked question when it comes to sanding and ultimately refinishing your Atlanta indoor stair handrails in order to leave them with that wow factor that I know you want. It seems that folks want to know what the most cost effective way to do this would be and I constantly let them know that with some serious sweat equity they could save themselves quite a bit of their hard earned money because it can get rather pricey (in a hurry) to refinish your Atlanta indoor stair handrails so let’s get started on some options that might help in your decision to hire a professional (Foxhound Floors Atlanta) or to do it yourself. 

So you have multiple scratches on your once beautiful handrails and you are absolutely determined to change that and add “pizazz” back to your Atlanta handrails but what should you do? Glad you asked and it is going to require a step by step process so please see below for details.

1. You first have to strip off the finish or paint and you are probably wondering why you just can’t paint over it (frequently asked question) and the answer to that is don’t you dare do  that. The major reason (only reason as far as I am concerned) is that by removing the old finish it will allow the new finish to “stick fast” to the wood based on maximum efficiency. What solutions are needed you probably asking about now and the answer to that is you can either strip the old finish by either sanding the handrails or using a wood finish remover. Either or will work or a combination of both will do so it is really up to you.

2. How long should I sand the handrails? We at Foxhound Floors Atlanta believe through our collective experience that you should sand until the finish is practically dull and no longer has any stain color left and you are just left with the actual raw wood color which will prove amazing when you put the finish back on and has that “pop” that you are looking for.

3. What kind of sanders should I use? Geez, you good people in Atlanta are asking all the right questions and the answer is a combo of an electric sander to remove the old finish for the large areas and my all-time favorite which is a sponge sander for the very small areas that are hard to get to. Please know that this is going to take some serious sweat equity and though I’ve mentioned it before, I just wanted to make sure you are fully aware hence the reason I am repeating it again.

4. Where do I start especially if there is quite a bit of square footage to cover?  Please make sure to start sanding at the top (that is where we always start) of the railing and work your way to sanding the sides of the railing. Make sure (very important tip) when using the sponge sander to push hard enough to form the sponge to the shape of the handrail so you get all of it when sponge sanding and don’t leave any spaces untouched.

A couple more tricks that we use is to get a piece of sandpaper when working on the spindles and make sure to wrap it around the pole and scrub to your hearts content (make sure it is back and forth.) You can also use a stiff toothbrush (reminds me of my Army days when I actually had to clean floors with toothbrushes to make them super clean) for those oh so hard to reach places that can drive you batty if not using a stiff toothbrush. Also, another tip that I need to add is to make sure you sand with the grain of the wood and always and I do mean always apply even pressure as that will have the best outcome. And for good measure as a precautionary measure, scrape away anything that the sander didn’t get to and make sure to use a wood finish stripper for any areas that need it. 

5. What now Foxhound Floors? At this point you are ready to clean the wood thoroughly after having labored away (sanding) and you need to use a vacuum with a brush attachment. Please make sure to use a damp rag in order to remove the fine dust as this is crucial before you start the refinishing process because if dust particles are left and get under the stain, your hard work will be for naught because the surface will look grainy and you do not want that after all that sweat equity.

Now you are in a good place on your journey to having beautiful handrails but we want to give you more options and that would be to use a gel or some type of liquid finish remover because the combination works well together and I will tell you why. 

  1. Gel works best when there are rather large flat surfaces and the likelihood of dripping is probably not that great.
  2. Liquid finish removers work best for those smaller areas especially if they are difficult to get to so the liquid finish remover is going to work just fine.
  3. Make sure when you apply the stain stripper you do so for a small area to prevent it from drying on the wood itself. The trick is to rub the stripper into the wood using a steel wool and make sure to do this once the actual surface of the old paint or varnish begins to blister. Oh by the way, please make sure to wipe the stripper from the wood itself with a rag and be thorough about it otherwise you will regret it and be absolutely sure to do this before the stripper dries on the surface. 
  4. You have to keep doing this to all sections of the wood and it might take you up to three applications to get it right. Yes, it is a laborious process but so worth the final effect that it will have on your handrails.

Now it’s time to stain your Atlanta indoor stair railing and by now, you have probably dropped a few pounds and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so let’s get started.

  1. Make sure to select the finish of your choice and know that if the wood is old or not in very good condition or possibly damaged, you will need a penetrating finish which will allow the strength of the wood to increase and also add some much needed protection.
  2. You will also need to apply some much needed penetrating finishes with a lint free cloth or some kind of nylon that you will use in a circular motion and when the wood cannot absorb any more of the finish, you will know that it is time to wipe off whatever excess there is and make sure to dry and repeat until you get the look you are after. It reminds me of The Karate Kid line where Mr. Miagi tells the Karate Kid to “wax on and wax off. 
  3. And last but not least, make sure when you use a surface finish, you stain the stair railing by applying a thin layer with a super high quality brush. Once it dries, make sure to sand using really fine sandpaper and of course, using your trusty rag to keep applying some more coats. Be absolutely certain to smooth any bubbles or drips right away of you will be regret it. 

At this point in time, I feel that I’ve shared some tips and answered some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to sanding and refinishing your Atlanta Indoor Handrails. Once again, thank you for coming to our blog and please be assured that we will continue to add more articles based on questions from our clients and potential clients. 



Foxhound Floors Atlanta Team

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