The Staircase Situation: Craftsman-Style Balusters & Reveal

The day is here when I can finally announce to the world: I am FINISHED with our stairway project! The last 10% of this project took up about 90% of the total project time, it seemed…but I digress.

When we moved into our house, this is what our stair railing looked like. It was perfectly functional and very sturdy.


But we all know that I “can’t leave well enough alone,” so it’s no surprise that we ripped down the railings and spindles last month.


Then we started to rebuild. First, I used MDF to build craftsman-style newel posts around the existing newel posts. Here’s that post for ya.

DIY Newel Post 1


DIY Newel Post 2

I stained the handrails using General Finishes Java Gel Stain and Kenny helped me reinstall them. That was a dramatic morning that I don’t ever need to relive.


Then it was time to add in the new balusters. We used about 50 of these from Home Depot for $4.97 each (ouch!). However, since I can’t do anything the easy way, I chose to do a design like this (favorite staircase ever! that wallpaper!). Have I ever installed a stairway railing before? No. But why not go big right out of the gate? HA. I’ll never learn.

You can see in the picture above that I already used a few balusters to line the bottom of the handrail. Next I had to install the baluster running parallel to that. I would imagine that it was probably pretty comical to be able to have seen my try to install the first one on my own…it was quite something. I needed about 6 arms.


You can see above that I used two pieces of scrap baluster to help me get the spacing just right (and found this website to be very helpful to initially figure out spacing).

After a while I got into a rhythm. I think it took me about 4 evenings total to install the balusters.


One of my biggest concerns with this project was getting the railing sturdy enough. Well, I worried for naught–these railings are going nowhere!

Once I finished installing the balusters, the torture began: filling nail holes, sanding, and painting. I rather dislike DIY projects that offer little immediate gratification….and this phase was terrible in that regard. But I kept doing a little every evening and finally–a month after we began? we can say that we’re finally finished!


I actually didn’t intend to end at the top with a full length vertical baluster, but I must have miscounted when I did my initial calculations. Oops! Thankfully it looks okay this way too!

Also, in retrospect, I wish I would have sprayed the balusters instead of brush painting them–some brush marks are definitely visible when you look up close. Hindsight is 20:20. But I’m proud of this project nonetheless. And we can just chalk the mistakes up to “character.” ;)

I love the look of the crisp white against the dark stain.


I’d love to get rid of the carpet and replace and stain the wood treads (and an awesome runner!), but that’s a slippery slope. But we’ll definitely get there someday.


Total budget for this project was about $350, $250 of which was the cost of the balusters. The wood trim around the newel posts was also shockingly expensive (to me, anyway)–maybe $25 for that? Good thing I like the end results so much!

One last before/after for your pinning pleasure (#subtlety):

DIY Stair Railing Makeover

I have very fond memories of my dad building the staircase in our house growing up (completely from scratch!) and I even used his DIY newel posts as inspiration. And then I remember my mom reading aloud to us “after” bedtime while we would sit on those stairs in our pajamas. Exciting to think what memories Kenny and I will create around these stairs!

Do you have any special stairway stories? I’d love to hear!

TDC Before and After


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