View Full Version : Finishing an Oak Handrail and Banister
03-16-2001, 03:09 PM
I have a new house.
The oak handrails and banister is in the 2 story foyer.
The flooring is 3/4 Natural Maple (3.25 inch planks).
ANy suggestions in how I should finish the handrail, banister and spindles?
03-16-2001, 10:03 PM
Handrails get lots of use. Several coats of a good quality poly would seem to be indicated.
Normally I finish with two coats of poly cut 50%-50% with mineral spirits to aid penetration. Rub down with 0000 steelwool after each coat is dry. Finish up with one or two coats 100% poly (Minwax Satin Clear) and give final rub with #2000 wet/dry automotive sandpaper to take out any lint. Light coat of Johnson's Paste wax & buff should finish the job.
Roger S. Dillman
03-18-2001, 12:45 AM
Why not use a hand rubbed oil finish,such as Danish Oil. There are many colors available,easy to rub on and very easy to maintain.
03-18-2001, 11:36 AM
Mainly because you want something more cleanable than just an oil finish. Handrails get lots of ... well, "goop" ... on them and you want something that you can give a spritz of cleaner on and not attack the finish. Since part of "goop" is oils, anything that will take off the "goop" will want to take some of the oil-based finish with it. A good coat of poly, on the other hand, will prevent the "goop" from penetrating the pores of the wood and resist (at least somewhat) cleaners.
This is not just an appearance item, it is a durability issue.
03-18-2001, 10:33 PM
Thanks for the advice.
I'm debating about whether to stain it with minwax 'Natural'and then poly or just poly it with no stain. Any thoughts?
03-18-2001, 11:04 PM
That's simply a matter of taste.
Roger S. Dillman
03-19-2001, 01:12 AM
Using pure poly is no way out. All you are doing is protecting the surface. It adds no color,just a plastic looking coating,that still will soil from soiled hands. My experience tells me to use the oil finish and paste wax to protect it. You can easily remove soiled wax with mineral spirits and re-coat.
Roger S. Dillman
03-19-2001, 01:19 AM
To achieve a quality finish between the oil and wax,apply sanding
sealer in between oil and wax.
03-19-2001, 01:25 AM
In addition Danish oil is not pure oil. It is about 1/3 oil (BLO), 1/3 thinner, and 1/3 varnish. It penitrates the wood and give a finish you can't take off if you want to. I tried to bleach out a cabinet that had 3 coats of danish oil dark walnut. I tried everything including two part bleach. It looked the same as before I started. The only way to get rid of the finish is to sand it off and it takes lots of sanding.
Hope I'm not to late. First as far as staining or not; a coat of
Minwax's 201 (Natural) will pronounce the natural grain as well as raise it some for a final\finish sanding.
I personaly despise poly-anything. My finish of choice would be
laquer. It's durable, easily repaired without nearly the build up poly would give you. Varnish becomes brittle, Danish oil I think would be high maintenance.
I used laquer in my own home, same application, wife had a new mattres\boxspring delivered. The handrail was scraped about 3ft
from them loosing the boxspring. I billed the idiots, but the repair is virtualy invisable and took about 15-20 minutes.