How to repaint porch railings to minimize future flaking and why fall is a great time to paint exterior areas exposed to the outdoors.
This post is sponsored by Behr. All opinions and text, as always, are mine. Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them and purchase I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Do you think of early fall as a time to paint or repaint porch railings, your house's exterior trim, or wooden garden features?
Brian and I have come to find that it's actually a great time to paint, especially areas that need more frequent repainting like porch railings, fences, and wood structures like garden arbors that are exposed to the elements.
We love the long porch that we added to our 1980s ranch to give it farmhouse-cottage character. It not only adds charm, but provides a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors through the seasons.
One thing we've noticed, though, is that the white railings have needed to be repainted every few years, especially in the area that's covered with only a pergola and clear roofing system versus a solid roof.
I was pretty sure that if we used a better quality primer and exterior paint we could extend the time between repainting (instead of cheaping out like we usually do...), which is why I was so happy to partner with Behr for this project to repaint our porch railings.
I'm sharing with you our experience, some painting tips we learned, and why we've found fall to be one of the best times to paint!
Porch Railings Before
Pictured above is what we started with for this DIY porch railing makeover - the balusters and posts weren't too bad, but the bottom rail, which takes the biggest beating from the weather, had almost no paint left on it (there was a bit more than this, but we had scraped the remaining paint off).
Sadly, we had scraped and repainted this same rail just two years ago. It may take us awhile, but we're learning that some things are worth investing a bit more money into to save time (and money or more problems) down the road.
Why Paint in the Fall?
This brings us to one of the key reasons early fall is a great time to repaint and touch up exterior trim and molding: it's thoroughly dry from the summer, which is important for any bare wood areas.
In spring there's usually off-and-on rain and your exposed railings and trim will probably be moist inside even if dry to the touch, and that moisture can cause paint flaking down the line. Then by the time it seems like it would be completely dry in the summer, it's too hot to spend hours painting.
Which is why we love repainting and refreshing exterior railings and trim (and any garden structures) in the fall - the wood will be dry and the weather is pleasant!
What Paint to Use?
This time we decided to layer on extra protection for our railings, using both a quality primer, KILZ 2, and an exterior paint resistant to dirt & fading, BEHR MARQUEE Exterior Paint & Primer.
We were looking for resistance to outdoor elements which the MARQUEE Exterior line had, and we learned that it is also "early rain resistant," which means you can paint even if rain is forecasted within 60 minutes - even better for fall applications!
Though I don't want to be painting that close to the line, it's nice to know that this paint can handle it if needed.
How to Repaint Porch Railings & Tips To Make it Easier
- Quality primer
- Quality exterior paint
- putty knife and sand paper
- Paint brushes: 2 to 2.5 inch angled primer brush and 1.5-inch angled paint brush
- 4-inch foam paint roller and paint tray
- flattened cardboard, plus a narrow sided cardboard box large enough to hold a paint can and damp rag
- rags for wiping spills
1. Scrape any flaking paint completely with a putty knife and sand any areas that need it with a medium-grit sandpaper (like our putty-knife damaged wood above - our son was a little too exuberant, a-hem).
2. Prime well, especially areas exposed to the elements like porch rails. We used an angled paint brush for this to be sure to get in all the nooks and crannies.
It took a couple hours one afternoon and though we could've started painting over it within 30 minutes, we ran out of time and started adding the coats of paint the next day.
3. Paint 2 coats of exterior paint. The best things we found to paint all the edges of porch railings were:
- A narrow 1.5-inch brush (about the width of the balusters) for the first coat over the primed areas (less drips when the whole brush is in contact with the surface).
- A 4-inch foam paint roller for the second coat and repainting all the other areas that needed a touch up coat. The foam roller ROCKS! Whoever invented this, you have my undying, DIY-ing heart's gratitude. It made painting our kitchen cabinets so much easier and now this. Less drips, smoother coverage, and rolling quickly. Love.
Tip: if you don't have any commercial paint tray liners on hand, cover your paint tray with a plastic grocery bag, taping as needed to secure. It works in a pinch and still provides easy clean up!
4. Protect areas from paint splatters with cardboard. We found that a flattened cardboard box used under the area we were working on kept paint off our porch floor and was super easy to move around to where we needed. It was easier to pick up at the end of painting, too, versus large drop cloths or taped areas.
We also kept the paint can in a cardboard box with low sides which was easy to scoot where we needed while still protecting the wood decking. When you're painting a long rail, you need to be able to move along it easily.
Enjoy Great Autumn Weather With a Refreshed Porch
The priming took a few hours the first afternoon, the painting another couple hours for each coat. Not that long, really, to turn a tired, dusty place into a crisp, clean space to enjoy the fall season.
Now we can sit on our fall porch and truly relax - enjoying the view of both our neighborhood and the fresh white porch railing.
And we discovered we're not the only ones who are enjoying the repainted porch railings. The difference was so obvious that the when we had friends over after completing our project, it was the first thing one of them noticed!
And while that was a little embarrassing to think how bad it had been looking (yikes!), I'm confident that now we've really treated these railings the right way and they will stay this way longer.
UPDATE: Curious to see how the railings held up after a winter? Go here to see!
Disclosure: I received product and/or compensation for this post. As always, the opinions, thoughts, and projects are all mine and I will NEVER promote something I don't love and think you will find helpful - promise! This post also uses affiliate links that earn commission based on sales, but doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.