What is the best paint for banisters?
It’s a question that is subjective and will vary depending on who you ask. For example, some painters will choose a durable gloss whereas others might prefer something like satinwood which is less durable but more pleasing on the eye.
So how do you know which paint is best? Of course, you could just rely on product descriptions and hope for the best but in our opinion, we’ve found a better way to decide.
We’ve surveyed 124 professional painters and decorators and asked them to choose their favourite banister paint, taking into consideration durability, ease of application, coverage, aesthetics and of course, value for money. Here’s what we found.
Best Paint for Banisters Vote Results
1st: Johnstone’s Aqua Satin (32% of vote)
2nd: Dulux Diamond Satinwood (22% of vote)
3rd: Crown Quick Dry Satin (15% of vote)
4th: Johnstone’s Non-drip Gloss (13% of vote)
1. Johnstone’s Aqua Guard
Being a water-based satin, this paint has a variety of uses and whilst it works magnificently well on banisters, you can also use it on a variety of interior woodwork substrates such as skirting boards and spindles.
Being a satinwood finish, it’s also a bit nicer on the eye due to it being a mid-sheen and gives a nice balance between being good at hiding imperfections but not being too reflective.
Our favourite feature of the paint is it’s durability and this was echoed by professional decorator Phil Hann who said this when we asked him why he chose Johnstone’s Aqua:
It’s the best full, non yellowing banister paint on the market at the moment in my opinion. The polyurethane resin makes it bomb proof compared to other full acrylic products. It’s almost as tough as any trade oil-based satinwood without having to worry about the odour.
As mentioned above, durability is key when it comes to banister paint as thee banister is one of the most touched objects in any home. You’ll need a paint that can withstand frequent traffic and there’s no doubt that Johnstone’s Aqua is able to.
- Highly durable
- Attractive satinwood finish
- Low odour and low VOCs
- Very easy to apply and dries quickly
2. Dulux Diamond Satinwood
Coming in second place is Dulux’s Diamond Satinwood which is both stain and grease resistant. These two particular qualities make Diamond Satinwood a great choice for family homes, especially if the little ones are knocking about with mucky paws!
Like our number one choice, this particular paint has a satinwood finish but being from Dulux’s Trade range means it’s going to be far superior in durability and quality than typical retail paint so is likely to last a good few years before needing a repaint.
Fortunately, the Diamond Satinwood (despite being a trade paint) comes in a relatively small size (1 litre) so will easily cover your banister with a couple of coats and you’ll likely have plenty leftover for touch ups on other woodwork within your home.
Here’s what Phillip Roderick, who voted Diamond Satinwood as his favourite, had to say about it:
I can highly recommend Dulux’s Diamond Satinwood. It’s great to use, has a fantastic flow rate and has adorned my own banisters for the last 5 years – still looks great and marks wipe off easily. Overall a lovely bit of gear.
- Fantastic flow rate
- Easy to apply
- Water-based makes it quick drying and low in VOCs
- Can withstand multiple wipes over the course of years
- Might need 3 coats if painting over a dark colour
3. Crown Quick Dry Satin
As far as retail paint goes, there are plenty of professional decorators (15% of the overall vote for example) who swear by Crown’s non-drip satin and would recommend it for use on banisters.
There’s been a number of times where I’ve gone to a job where I’m penned in to paint interior woodwork and a common issue I see is paint drips that have dried on banisters (especially if my client isn’t a painter and has painted them theirselves). Crown’s non-drip satin has the perfect combination of consistency and drying time so even for amateur painters, this isn’t really an issue you’ll face.
In terms of durability, this is about as good as it gets for retail paint as the tough formula can withstand multiple cleans without losing any performance aesthetically. Of course, it’s not going to last as long as the trade paints mentioned above, but for a cheaper alternative it’s worth the purchase.
Here’s what professional decorator Alan Crooks had to say about it:
My favourite thing about Crown’s satin is that it’s actually more like an eggshell in finish (the white is beautiful) but has the durability of satin. So the sheen is quite low but the durability is decent, especially for banisters. Being cheap obviously helps!
- Quick drying with minimal VOCs
- Has a low sheen finish but maintains durability
- Very cheap
- Comes in smaller sized tins
- Not as durable as the first two paints on this list
4. Johnstone’s Non-drip Gloss
Whilst the top 3 paints in the vote were in favour of satin finishes, the number 4 spot goes to Johnstone’s non-drip gloss. And just because the gloss comes in 4th place, that doesn’t mean we should rule it out entirely and I’ll explain why.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that gloss paint is typically extremely durable. And in this case with the Johnstone’s non-drip gloss, that’s certainly accurate. The hard-wearing formula has been created to withstand multiple washes and should stand the test of time on your banisters.
Secondly, this particular gloss is one coat and doesn’t need an undercoat. This means that beyond a bit of prep, you can have the job done in a matter of minutes.
Finally, it simply looks very nice. It’s still generally accepted among decorators that despite water-based paints matching the performance of oil-based paints, oil-based paints still provide a nicer finish.
Of course, being oil-based, you’ll need to deal with the typical pitfalls such as the odour so if you do go with this paint, make sure to air out your home before, during and after application.
Here’s what Tony Allen, a professional painter with over 30 years of experience had to say:
As an old head, I still prefer to use oil-based paints as I think they look nicer so if I was going to be painting a banister Jonno’s non-drip gloss would be my first choice. It’s hands down the best when it comes to price:performance ratio.
- Provides a hardwearing finish that’s likely to last years
- Looks fantastic
- One coat makes it convenient to apply
- One of the best value for money banister paints on the market
- Has a high sheen
Best Type of Paint for Banisters
If you’re still not sure which banister paint is right for you, take a look at our quick buyer’s guide which notes the characteristics you should look for.
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when you’re painting your banisters. Sure, we all want that perfect look but it’ll mean nothing if in a few month’s time your paint is starting to scratch off or fade.
As one of the most touched surfaces in your home, your banister paint needs to withstand this. For that reason, choosing a washable satinwood or gloss is always a good call. Whilst a matt or eggshell paint might LOOK better, ultimately, they wouldn’t be able to withstand the high traffic.
What’s the point in having a durable paint if you don’t actually like what it looks like?
My favourite choice here would be a satinwood which combines durability with an attractive mid-sheen finish but ultimately the choice is yours. In some home with certain colour schemes, even a high gloss can look great.
Think about how you want your banisters to look – do you want them to stand out? Maybe you want them a neutral colour that blends in with your existing decor. Either way, aesthetics matter!
Ease of Application
To achieve the aforementioned quality finish, you’re going to want to buy something that is easy to apply – whether you’re a professional or an amateur. There’s no point buying a paint that’s ultimately going to leave runs and brush marks on the final coat.
Your paint job should last you for years so don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more now on a high quality paint that will be a dream to apply and will ultimately stand the test of time.
Banister Paint Maintenance
Maintaining the health of your banister paint all depends on the paint you buy. If you’ve bought a high quality one that has been suggested by professionals, you should have an easy time keeping it looking great.
Choosing a paint that is resistant to stains and grease will win you half the battle but for those particularly stubborn marks, you might need to give your banister a good wipe down.
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