recommendations on finishing a maple stair rail

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Forum topic by pennyanguy posted 01-30-2013 09:39 PM 2798 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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01-30-2013 09:39 PM

Looking for some recommendations on what finish to use for an interior maple stair rail and newel post. The wood is a very light-blonde very tight grain and we would like to keep that color… so we are not staining it at all and are looking for a crystal clear finish that will give a durable hard coating.

I have tried some test pieces with spar varnish…that imparted an amber color we do not want.

Also tried Miniwax water base polycrylic…liked the color, not too amber, but 3 coats did not seem to develop a thick enough surface (kinda looking for the “hard acrylic—-plasticy” look) I will be trying more coats of this in the coming days on my test pieces but since the railing is up and being used , applying days worth of coats seems like an accident waiting to happen. Also, at this point the polycrylic does not seem to have a rock hard abrasion resistant surface.

The local Lowes guy recommended I try a two part epoxy finish like is commonly used on bar tops…since that is supposed to “flow” I dont know how well it will brush on verticle surfaces…The finish is about what I am looking for though…any finishes you know of that would give that …

The big hurtle to me is how the material paints and flows…the railing assembly is a top and bottom rail with glass panels recessed into the rails…I have to finish it with the glass panels in place, so I will need to be able to paint and dab into crevices.

Looking for something I can apply in place (brush or wipe), will be able to span the seems and corners well( not so hard it will crack) and that will be good for kids (we have a bunch), easy to clean, durable and again… clear. I recently saw some Maple benches in out local YMCA locker room that were done in a clear, thick very durable coating so i know something exists.

I am located in western NY so have access to Lowes, Homedepot, sherwin williams, and of coarse the web so any ideas are welcome.


-- TJ

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5819 posts in 3054 days

#1 posted 01-30-2013 09:43 PM

Clear dewaxed shellac does not add much color. I just finished some poplar drawer boxes with clear shellac, and they came out great.
Lacquer will yellow with time or light exposure.
Most finishes will change the color slightly – and seems drastic at first – but then once it dries, and everything is the same color it looks natural again.

I usually try to match the finish on the rest of the woodwork in the house.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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#2 posted 02-12-2013 04:02 PM

OK, Now I am confused…

I had someone highly recommend General Finishes High Performance Polyurathane top coat, then when I went to buy a quart at Woodcraft, the sales guy there said its a good product, but I really should look at tounge oil or danish oil as a more natural, repairable finish. He recommended toungue oil bacause , in his words, “when it gets scratched or dull…which it will no matter what you use, you can just rub another caot of tounge oil on and its good as new…with the poly you would need to sand the abrasion then refinish the whole rail”

OK..I am SOOO confused now…will tounge oil give a durable finish???

-- TJ

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