I hired contractors and they recommended using tremclad semi gloss to repaint my stairs but unfortunately it's leaving a really ugly look. They are saying it's because there's urethane on the spindles, which is why we can see all the imperfections.

I've asked the team to give me time to do some research as I'm not satisfied with the result of tremclad on the spindles. I would like to get white spindles with a smooth finish and not see any of the old orange.

May I ask what steps should we be taking, I did not see any sanding was done. Should we sand everything and prime and then paint? Not quite sure what to do, any assistance would be greatly appreciated

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  • did the contractor say why they suggested tremclad? I had to look it up, but it seems as though it’s for metal/rust. It also looks like it’s a spray paint. Rustoleum products, in my experience, are a pain to paint over. More so than the urethane. – Jax Nov 4 '19 at 1:53
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    @jaxk they suggested tremclad because they said it sticks better to wood. – Master Nov 4 '19 at 12:02

Having recently embarked on painting old spindles on the 100 year old stairs leading up to my newly renovated master bedroom (and wanting the new and old to blend seamlessly) I can offer you some product advice that worked for me.

Some of the spindles has a high gloss lacquer, some had several layers of high gloss paint, and the associated chips. Like you I wanted a smooth finish, and to maintain (what was left of) the details of the spindles. I did the work myself on weekends so sanding/removing (lead-based for sure) paint was not an undertaking I had the patience, time, nor tools/resources for. So, I opted to de-gloss the existing surfaces (I used Krud Kutter), then I filled the worst chips with either wood filler or putty (whatever you’d use on a painted wall) depending on if it was a painted or lacquered spindle, then I used Stix primer, followed by a satin finish top coat. I used a foam roller to get a nice smooth finish. For both the primer and the paint.

I believe that the stix primer will prevent any orange from bleeding through, and does a great job of adhering to tough to paint surfaces, so even if the de-glosser doesn’t get to every nook and cranny, you should still get a long lasting, durable base coat for your paint to stick to. My stairs get a lot of use with 6 people (4 kids) going up and down all day, getting banged by toys, laundry baskets, furniture, etc and I have had zero paint chips, bubbles, smudges, peeling, or bleed-thru. It’s been a year. I also used stix on all my previously lacquered doors and none of them are having any issues at all, even though they have the added challenge of being in a bathroom with constant exposure to heat and humidity.

I would hope that your contractor makes the situation right for you. None of this should be outside his/her capability, as I’m just a homeowner, not a pro, and I did not find any of this challenging whatsoever.

Btw-I’m not affiliated with any of these products. Just a regular ol’ consumer.


At this point in the game I think your best bet will be to get some paint and finish remover and brush it on to the spindles and remove everything. Then you can sand, prime and paint. T would have thought that the contractors would have known what would happen if you used the Tremclad over urethane. i must be old school because I hate to see finished wood painted over. Good luck.

  • I recently had to paint over some of the original oak trim in my house that was in bad shape, to match some other, previously painted trim (not by me!) and it was PAIN. Soul pain. I almost couldn’t watch, but, it’s tough to paint with your eyes closed...I actually heard myself apologize to the house out loud. – Jax Nov 4 '19 at 1:58

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