In short, here's your update.
I'm sure you remember my banister project in the old house that i thought was such a huge deal until i had to deal with this monster in our current house:
It continues up the stairs and then wraps around the entire hallway:
What had me deciding to start this project is that it was free, since i already had the stain and poly-acrylic on hand from my previous banister project. Plus, i'm very results-driven, and i knew this thing was gonna be a HUGE beast and the quicker i checked it off my to-do list, the better i'd feel.
Step 1: I lightly sanded the whole thing. By "lightly sanded," i mean i scuffed up the protective coat - i didn't remove it all completely. This took months because i had to keep taking weeks off due to crippling morning sickness. Have i mentioned how awesome pregnancy is?
Step 2: I taped it all off. Including the individual spindles, which was probably the most time-consuming part of the whole process.
Step 3: Stain time. I had to do it one section at a time since nap time is only so long. I double-gloved, then applied it with a cotton sock. I had the idea of just staining the balusters and the railing and leaving the bottom white, but i thought the contrast would go better with the carpet. So i decided to go with dark all around. I did two coats of General Finishes gel stain in Java. HIGHLY recommend this.
Step 4: Once the stain was completely dry - and i waited three full days - i applied the poly-acrylic. The reason i let it dry for so long is because the stain is oil-based and the poly-acrylic is water based. If there's one thing i learned about that oil fire in my childhood backyard was that trying to put it out with the hose was a bad idea. (We instead smothered it with my sister's sled.)* So oil and water really don't mix, which it turns out i was taught in school. It's amazing i've survived this long. ...Tangent! But it's cool once everything is dry - really, i promise. Come over and see for yourself. PLUS! Poly-acrylic doesn't yellow over time the way that polyurethane does. I used General Finishes polyacrylic in a satin finish, and i applied this with a sock as well. (I previously applied this with a foam brush but got too many bubbles.)
Before (wayyy Before...this pic was taken at walk-through):
*We lived in a town house! How did no one call 911!?