How to Cover Ugly Stair Railings

Written by kate bruscke
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How to Cover Ugly Stair Railings
Liven up ugly railings as a weekend project. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

One of the most overlooked areas in a home is the design of the railings along interior or exterior stairways. Chances are, if you rent or have recently purchased a home, you neither picked out these railings nor have the right, cash or equity to replace them entirely. In these cases, you can easily -- and inexpensively -- create custom railing covers for wood rails that can be removed at a later date, if necessary, when you do invest in replacement or move out.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • 3/4-inch plywood
  • Hand or power saw
  • Sandpaper in various grits
  • All-purpose glue
  • Foam brush
  • Fabric or wallpaper in desired colour and design (enough yardage to cover railings)
  • Utility knife
  • Drill and wood screws, or twine or thin rope

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  1. 1

    Measure the length and width of the ugly stair railing.

  2. 2

    Cut the plywood, using the hand or power saw, following the dimensions of your railing, adding 1/8 inch allowance on either side. This plywood will be used to create a cover for your current railing.

  3. 3

    Sand the edges and surface of the plywood, moving from the coarsest grit to the finest, to smooth out any jagged or splintery areas.

  4. 4

    Coat the top surface of the plywood with all-purpose glue, applying an even coat using the foam brush.

  5. 5

    Press the fabric or wallpaper onto the glue, smoothing out any wrinkles or blisters.

  6. 6

    Flip plywood over and apply a 1/2-inch-wide line of glue around the perimeter of the wood.

  7. 7

    Fold the edges of the fabric or paper onto the glue around the perimeter. Allow to dry and cut away excess fabric or paper using the utility knife.

  8. 8

    Attach the rail cover to the top of a wood railing using the drill and wood screws. Alternatively, you can drill evenly spaced pairs of hole along the length of the cover, thread each pair of holes with a length of twine or rope in a complementary colour, and tie the railing cover onto the ugly rail, securing with a knot beneath the old rail. This method is great if you are a renter and cannot damage the old railing.

  9. 9

    Repeat for any additional ugly stair railings you want to cover.

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