How I Used Chalk Paint to Update my Banister

I’ve gotten some questions about my banister recently.  I mentioned it briefly in this post about my favorite paint colors and you can also see it here in the post about my art nook but I thought I’d share a little more today about how I actually painted it.

I hated our banister color.  It was this orangey oak.  Here’s the best before picture I could find, I know its small and grainy, but at least you can see the color. bannister before

The thought of sanding and priming all of that sounded awful to me though. All those curves and angles, just ugh!!  I know, I’m totally whining.  Whenever Paul or I get whiny about something that truly doesn’t matter in life we quote a line from You’ve Got Mail to one another.  Its from that scene where they’re stuck in the elevator and think they may never get out. Everyone is sharing deep moments from their hearts and Parker Posey’s character is digging through her purse and exclaims, “Ugh! I can’t find my tic-tacs!”

You've Got Mail So yeah, I had a “can’t find my tic-tacs” moment about the banisters.

And its because I know it isn’t something that matters that much in the history of my life and it also isn’t something I wanted to invest that much time or money on.

So here enters chalk paint.  It requires no sanding or priming.  Oh, and apparently you can make it yourself pretty easily and cheaply. Perfect!

Chalk Paint :: The House of Figs

I am totally not a DIYer as you may have discovered from this blog.  I don’t really do crafts and we hire out when jobs are too big for us.  But like I’ve already said, this wasn’t really something I wanted to spend lots of money or time on, so I just did a quick google search and found a great and inexpensive recipe for chalk paint.

That was all I needed to give it a go.  You can’t really ruin something you already can’t stand, right? So here’s the recipe I used:

2 parts paint plus 1 part calcium carbonate

I ordered this Calcium Carbonate on Amazon and it has lasted me for a LONG time.  I think I used around a cup of paint for the entire bannister.  The color is my favorite gray, Olympic’s Silver Dollar.  Now just a little warning, from what I understand, this recipe is not the greatest when you are planning to do distressing.  I knew I wanted a clean and modern look so I wasn’t concerned about that.  See other recipes for making your own chalk paint here.

Chalk Paint Bannister :: The House of Figs

I didn’t use a different brush or anything, just a regular old paint brush. I had to do a couple of coats, and did end up needing to put little circles of tape on all the white spindles (ugh!!) but it was worth it in the end.  No sanding, no priming.

After painting, I wanted it to be super durable, so I covered it with a couple coats of a satin polycrylic.  This is similar to a polyurethane but its waterbased so it doesn’t change the color at all and it gives it a nice sheen and protective coating.  We’ve had it this way for over a year and it has held up nicely.


After doing the bannister, I loved it so much that I decided to do it on my mantle as well! It only took one coat because it was already white.

Mantle with Chalk Paint :: The House of Figs

Wall color:  Olympic’s Willow Springs, Mantle & banister color:  Olympic’s Silver Dollar

Fall Mantle: The House of Figs

So there you have it, pretty easy and super cheap update to that old orangey-oak banister wood.  Have you ever used chalk paint on anything in your home?

Thanks so much for reading!



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15 Responses to How I Used Chalk Paint to Update my Banister

  1. Grace Culbreath October 12, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    This is beautiful! I think this post has inspired me to go ahead with my plan to use chalk paint on my kitchen cabinets. Thanks for sharing!

    • Bethany October 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      Thanks, Grace, so glad to hear it inspired you! 🙂

  2. Kathy Carter October 13, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Love it! This may be the solution to my kitchen cabinets too!

  3. Elizabeth October 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Thank you for posting this! My banister looks exactly like yours used to. You’ve inspired me once again!

    • Bethany October 20, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

      Thanks, I’m so glad to hear!! 🙂

  4. Hilary June 11, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Does the calcium carbonate dissolve quickly when added to the paint? Also, does it matter what the paint sheen is (high gloss) when making the chalk paint?

    • Bethany June 13, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

      Hi Hilary! You do have to stir it quite a bit to avoid clumps, so I wouldn’t say super quick. And I’m really not sure about the sheen- I’ve only ever tried it with flat or eggshell paint. You could always just try a tiny bit and see how it works. I don’t think it will be as glossy or glossy at all, because the chalk makes it very matte. Hope that helps!

  5. Susan July 9, 2016 at 1:04 am #

    You inspired me to finally update my banister! Thank you! I have one question. Did you coat the chalk paint when you were finished with any wax or poly?

    • Bethany July 9, 2016 at 9:25 am #

      Yes I used a polycrylic after. Good luck with your project! ?

  6. Sara January 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

    Could this chalk paint recipe be finished off with a clear wax instead of the polycrylic?

    • Bethany March 4, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

      I think so! I’ve never worked with wax though!

  7. Heather March 2, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

    Love this!! I will be trying very soon!! Quick question what kind of pant did you use-like flat, semi gloss etc.. maybe I missed it!!

    • Bethany March 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

      I think it was eggshell paint- it was just leftover wall paint! The sheen afterward came from the satin polycrylic I put on top. Thanks!

  8. Kelly otten September 30, 2018 at 5:52 pm #

    What kind of paint did you use?

  9. Ellen October 15, 2018 at 5:04 pm #

    Was the orangey oak portion polyurethane? Mine is also a nightmare to sand so i would live to tey chalk paint.

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