How to Pre-Paint Balusters (& hang them up to dry)

painting bottom end of baluster When I built the railings for our veranda project, I pre-painted all the components before assembly. Pre-painting allows you prime the end cuts to prevent moisture wicking, you don’t have to kneel or squat for hours on end, and you can do a better overall paint job.

I had about 80 balusters that needed one coat of primer and two finish coats of semi gloss. I painted the balusters in batches of 20-30 as needed to build the railing sections.

Preparing for painting

  • baluster with screw eye attachedYou’ll need a couple of packs of small screw eyes and 1 1/2” 4d finish nails.
  • The first thing to do is mark the centres on the ends of the balusters. 
  • Drive a nail about a 3/8” into the bottom end.
  • Insert the the screw eye in the top of the baluster.
  • Drill a 1/8” hole about a 1/4” deep near the edge of a scrap board and clamp it to your workbench.

Watch the video

Painting technique

Work from the bottom to the top so you’re always brushing into the wet edge. It’s easiest to paint the bottom half holding it in your hand. Paint the end grain first and work your way up, while rotating the piece and smoothing out any drips or sags.

Once you have the bottom half done, set the nail in the hole. Use the same technique, rotating and tilting the piece to make sure you have good coverage without drips.

As you reach the top end of the piece, shift your hand to the screw eye. Use it to steady and rotate the piece as you finish painting, including the end grain.

Once you’re done just lift it out of the hole and steady the lower end with a finger on the nail.

hold screw eye to paint top of balusterbalusters hung on nails in joists 

Hang them up to dry

I have exposed joists in my basement shop so I drove a bunch of 1 1/2” 4d common nails into the lower edge of the joists about 6” apart for hanging the balusters to dry between coats.

Once the the first batch of 30 balusters was dry and ready for assembly, I removed the screw eyes and nails and reused them to prep the next batch for painting.

text graphic - components to finish with this techniqueThis technique makes it easy to paint, stain or clearcoat entire pieces without the mess or fingerprints in the finish.

You have handles at each end and can hang them to dry between coats.

Why not give it a try on your next project.


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