Author Topic: Finish for a bannister  (Read 10727 times)

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Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Finish for a bannister
« on: March 26, 2008, 04:20 PM »
Hi folks,

A friend of mine is installing a beautiful wooden bannister in his house (he's a general contractor, but not really a woodworker). The handrail will be a central lamination of two 1/2 inch pieces of white oak, with a cherry handrail laminated along the top edge. The newel post is laminations of 1/2 inch white oak, cherry and curly maple. The balusters are powder-coated steel.

I was hoping someone would have suggestions for a durable clear finish for the wooden parts. I'm not sure if he has spray equipment, so probably something that could be brushed on would be preferable. The handrail part is only about 5 ft long.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Poto

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Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 05:27 PM »
Eli? Brice? Dave? Dan? Seth? Jerry? Anyone? I'm a tung oil guy, but I don't think it would stand up to the wear and tear of a bannister...

Offline Scott W.

  • Posts: 333
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2008, 05:49 PM »
I would use Waterlox or polly.

Scott W.
PA, USA

Offline Dovetail65

  • Posts: 4617
    • Rose Farm Floor Medallions and Inlays
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2008, 05:53 PM »
I love shellac and wax. It holds up on floors so on a banister it will easily. You could exclude the wax, but since it is such a small area go with the wax. This is a really simple finish to apply and repair. To keep it  looking new, just buff it out. Some people hate wax it gets a bum wrap as far as I am concerned.

Shellac dries fast, smell goes away really fast, alcohol based, no way you can mess up like with poly, sands in between coats great, compatible with ANY other top coat if you want to go to Poly or something else. But if you use wax that has to be removed. Can put on many, many coats the same day.

You can even go all out with the shellac and French polish the rail. There are many articles on the web, Google it. I always make my own shellac with flakes and alcohol, but you can purchase some pretty good stuff from Zinsser :

Shellac

Zinsser products that will work including poly

Flake kit from Rockler

Good primer on using shellac many other ways

To me no other finish gives the look of a shellac and wax finish.

My personal preference thats all.


Nickao
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 06:09 PM by nickao »
The one who says it can't be done should avoid interrupting the person doing it.

Offline Brice Burrell

  • Posts: 7356
  • Remodeling Contractor
    • The Green and Dark Blue blog
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2008, 06:42 PM »
  I tend to polly everything, I prefer oil based. Oil polly has an amber tint to, that looks good on cherry, on oak and maple it a personal choice, I happen to like it. Water based polly goes is almost perfectly clear but it doesn't hold up quite as well. But you probably already know all of this.
Check out my new blog, The Green and Dark Blue Blog.

Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2008, 07:45 PM »
Thanks gents. This is why I love this forum - you get 3 different answers from 3 different experts, and they're all right! I'll pass this along to my neighbor, and let him decide. I very much appreciate your thoughts.

Poto

Offline Chris Hughes

  • Posts: 570
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2008, 09:06 PM »
     I agree with Brice, I like oil based poly.  I use Quick 15 on hand rails and balusters, it is fast drying and self leveling.  For treads and risers I use Fabulon because of its high poly content, very durable.  Both product are easy to use and easily repaired.  Four years ago I never would have thought about using oil based product.  Either oil based polys have improved greatly or I suck much less.  Chris

Offline Dovetail65

  • Posts: 4617
    • Rose Farm Floor Medallions and Inlays
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2008, 10:37 PM »
Fabulon is a great product for flooring. I am not so sure it is  that easy to repair for someone not familiar or used to working with it though. Several of my clients have screwed it up. 

Chris I am sure you suck less and the products are better.

Nickao
The one who says it can't be done should avoid interrupting the person doing it.

Offline Dave Ronyak

  • Posts: 2234
  • Flyin' from NE Ohio
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2008, 01:00 PM »
Another product line you might consider is that offered by PermaChink.   See http://www.permachink.com/  They specialize products for log homes, including finishes for interior components including floors.   They also provide well written descriptions to help you choose the right products for your applications and instructions for proper application of those products.  Their sureshine finish should be suitable for a handrail since it is suitable for flooring.  See http://www.permachink.com/sureshine.htm for more description.  Note that I have not used this particular PermaChink product.  I have purchased some of their wood preservative products [Shell Guard] to thwart fungus attack on non-log structural members in my [non-log] house.

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Justin F.

  • Posts: 311
  • Louisiana, USA
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2008, 01:14 PM »
You could also do a 1/3 thinner, 1/3 tung oil , 1/3 varnish (I like Behlens Rockhard ) --- rub it on, and rub it out (3 + coats) -- finish with wax ------ pretty beautiful, pretty durable, pretty repairable, and pretty easy.



Justin
" The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. "

Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2008, 03:26 PM »
These - again - are all great suggestions. The bannister is now installed, but not yet finished, so there's still time to make decisions.

Justin, I like your idea. I'm making some window frames right now, to frame the insides of my windows (purely decorative). Will your finish peel or crack in the sun or moisture? I'm guessing not, as it soaks in pretty well. I've never worked with a varnish/tung oil combo, though.

Offline Justin F.

  • Posts: 311
  • Louisiana, USA
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2008, 03:50 PM »
Poto -- I'm no expert so take what I say for what its worth --- but I have used Behlens Rockhard Varnish on a floor (just as varnish, not the concoction I've listed) and it is really tough stuff.  Rockhard, itself, contains a phenolic resin which is common in spar varnishes and has pretty good UV and sun protection and it is listed as a table top varnish (ask Per on its qualities) so it should be pretty moisture resistant.   

The varnish/tung oil concoction is mostly a penetrating finish with maybe some surface finish --- it is really fool proof to apply.  Apply it  with a rag, let it sit for a bit (until is starts setting up --but just) , rub it out with a clean rag, let it sit for Behlens recommended dry time, rub it out with steel wool to remove debris and defects,  and do the whole thing 3 or more times.  Let it cure a couple days after last coat, and apply a wax if desired (with steel wool if a satin sheen is desired).  It is pretty tough and a wax will help hide any scratching that might occur from daily use.

This is just one way and all the mentioned solutions seem sound --- I like the shellac idea --- quick and beautiful and with a wax, pretty durable --- I don't know how it will hold up to moisture.

Justin

Edit: Poto, after re-reading your post , I realize that I restored some double hung windows a while back, staining the inside of the windows, and applying this varnish concoction --- after 3 years it is holding up strong --- and we get plenty of sun and condensation here in coastal Louisiana
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 03:53 PM by jaegerhund »
" The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. "

Offline Tom Bainbridge

  • Posts: 1009
  • Limey Carpenter
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2008, 05:22 PM »
being english

being totally off the wrong wall, the wrong side of the atlantic

certifiabley, and absolutly totally guranteed to be insane

to the average north american




wax is AN answer

coloured if necessary (i bring american white oak to english / european colour with it)



its easy to apply, smells wonderful (if it has bees wax in it)

you rub it in by hand

then, get your rotex 125 or 150 with a lambswool buffer......... total perfection






this type of product has a very special and unusual added advantage

if you have clients who's body's are particularly sensitive to modern world plastics and chemicals

things like natural beeswax are a massive help to them (AND YOU)
Bromley, Kent. UK

aka dirtydeeds

Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2008, 07:56 PM »
Hey - I really like that idea. The bannister guys are quite environmentally friendly - his wife wouldn't let him use certain species of wood because they weren't properly forested and cultivated. I bet they'd love the pure wax (espcially beeswax) finish.

I'll forward all these suggestions to him.

I've only used shellac once (on my dog bowl holder) and I really hated it. I couldn't get the brush marks out of it, even with thinning, sanding, steel wooling, etc. Tung oil's my favorite, until someone persuades me otherwise!


Offline Bob Swenson

  • Inactive Member
  • *
  • Posts: 184
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2008, 07:41 AM »
Poto
I pad on wax free shellac like French polish. No brush marks and
the padding fills  in the grain. Any mistakes are quickly fixed with a dab
of alcohol. If you can't buy wax free you can make it.   Fill a jar with
shellac and let it stand until the wax settles to the bottom, than decant it.

All the poly banister finishes are good. I like the feel of a perfectly smooth
rail so after sanding velvet smooth I wipe on a couple of very thin
coats of satin gel varnish. Renaissance Wax makes a good topping.

Bob

Offline poto

  • Posts: 408
Re: Finish for a bannister
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2008, 07:28 PM »
This sounds like a great finish, Bob. Thanks for sharing it with us. I'm going to give it a try on my next piece. It sounds fairly foolproof, and I'm sure gives a beautiful foil for the grain and figure of the wood.