Paint Projects

Modern Meets Traditional Staircase Remodel

I recently shared on my Instagram stories my questions, opinions, and doubts about my main stairway handrail. It was originally painted a bright white, and I never minded how it flowed seamlessly with my trimwork, risers, and baseboards. It was great and it worked, especially after I swapped out for iron balusters and updated my runner to this beauty!

But when I went through the process of updating my stair runner (How to Install a DIY Stair Runner) and installing iron balusters from Stair Parts USA, I started to question if I needed to do something more. Something more bold. Then I stumbled on this post from Chris Loves Julia and I was smitten.

After staring at my stairs and how the white just seemed to clash with the balusters now, I just went for it. I couldn’t get the idea of a black handrail out of my mind so I made my decision and I went for it. I purchased top of the line paint to endure the wear and tear and I started the process of sanding and painting.

The way this stairway turned out is beyond my vision. It’s beyond any and all expectations. It’s the perfect statement that ties in the subtle black accents around my home and adds beautiful dimension with the contrast of my paint color and white wood. I am thrilled with how this project has turned out and I truly can’t stop staring at this beautiful focal point as you enter my home.

When choosing the paint for this project, I wanted to work with a strong enamel paint that would be tough against the wear and tear and use of a handrail. However, I took the search even further because I also wanted to find an enamel that didn’t have an obscene dry and curing time. Can you believe that some enamels on the market take over 30 days to fully cure?! Our house doesn’t have the time nor the ability to wait through that storm!

What I landed on was Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel. It’s a hybrid that has the durability of an oil-based with the resistance to yellowing and lack of strong fumes like a water-based. It’s the best of both worlds and it was so easy to work with. Nothing too thick, fast dry time (but not TOO fast), and a leveling ability that allowed for those pesky brush strokes to just smooth themselves out as it dried. The drawback? (Because this all sounds too good to be true, right?) The list price for this product is $103/gallon. That’s pricey no matter how you look at it! Right now, you can nab it for 35% off with the Sherwin Williams paint sale but you have to act fast! The sale ends August 8th.

When I talked through options at Sherwin Williams, the very kind man did explain that it comes pre-mixed with “black” paint so I didn’t have to specialize the color. I was looking for Tricorn Black, as that’s what I used on my front door and shutters, and he explained that this black that it comes in is almost a perfect match for that shade. If your store doesn’t carry the pre-mixed black version of this, ask for Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black for the same look.

Since my handrail and newel post was already painted in a white enamel, I spent the extra time prepping the areas by hand sanding them with 220 grit sandpaper to take off the glossy finish and sand out any imperfections and nicks on the surface. This allows for my new enamel to adhere fully and not risk being nicked off over time. This extra prep work is imperative for a solid, strong finish.

In the end, I used three coats of the enamel on all parts of my handrail and newel post, and did a fourth coat on the top of my handrail with a foam brush just to avoid any remaining brushstrokes.

It’s a beautiful piece in my home now. One I’m so proud of and find so calming and welcoming as I enter through my front door. Although white was “fine,” this new black piece is stunning and the perfect mix of a traditional and modern touch that fits my home fabulously.

Missed out on previous stair remodel posts and photos? Check these out!

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