Refinishing Interior Handrail

Olga asked 10 years ago

I’m planning to paint my interior staircase handrails. They are currently stained and varnished oak wood. I read on your site that I should prime them with OIL based primer and later seal the paint with OIL based varnish. My question is does it have to be oil? I would like to re-use materials left-over from a previous project which are: Sherwin Williams latex adhesion primer and Minwax “water based oil-modified” polyurethane. Can I use either of these products for the handrail?

If I decide to stain instead of paint, is it sufficient to sand down the handrails’ current finish and apply stain (i.e. not use any chemical removers)? And in that case can I use the above polyurethane to seal the stain with?

Thanks in advance for your help.

1 Answers
Crowder Painting answered.

For painting- prime with oil primer. The paint can be oil based or acrylic depending on your preference. Varnish isn't needed, this is a clear coat not a paint.

It is important to use an oil base primer. This will stick better to old varnish. The finish paint can be any type. The Minwax is a clear finish and is applied over new wood stain only.
Do not apply polyurethane or water based clear finishes over varnish, they will have adhesion problems.

Restaining can be done over well prepared varnish but it is better to strip, sand and restain. It depends on the overall condition of the handrail. Chips and scratches will require excessive sanding which will remove the old stain, this will show in the final product if the entire handrail isn't also fully stripped and sanded.

Hope this helps!