Aluminum handrails are low-maintenance, sturdy, durable, affordable, and available in an impressive range of styles. They’re a popular choice for interior and exterior spaces where a convenient handhold is desired. If you’re renovating or freshening up one of these spaces, you might be intrigued by the notion of changing the handrail’s appearance with a coat of paint. Is painting an aluminum handrail an option? It is certainly possible. However, it’s probably not your best choice.
Painting an Aluminum Handrail
Today’s aluminum handrails aren’t meant to be painted. That’s because they come with a far more durable finish called powder coating. A powder-coated aluminum handrail can withstand scorching heat, bone-chilling cold, and everything in between those extremes. Even when battered by wind, rain, snow, or ice, this tough finish resists peeling, cracking, blistering, and flaking to keep the aluminum beneath it safe from destructive corrosion. However, if you have an ancient railing with a failing finish coat or are intent on a color change, you certainly can paint an aluminum handrail. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Gather Your Supplies
Before you start any job, it’s always wise to make sure that you have everything that you’re likely to need to complete it on hand. The following items are often required when painting an aluminum handrail:
- Eye protection
- A power washer
- Wire wool, sand paper, or sanding sponges
- A degreasing agent
- Drop cloths
- Paint brushes or a paint sprayer
2. Choose Your Time and Place
When you’re painting, moisture is not your friend, so it is vital that you choose a time and place where high humidity or a sudden sprinkle won’t ruin your efforts or hamper drying. For the best results, you’ll need to wait for a dry, sunny day without much wind if you’re painting outside. Alternately, you can opt to work inside in a clean, well-ventilated area.
3. Clean the Handrail
Did you know that dirt, grime, paint chips, corrosion, oil, and grease can interfere with the adhesion of paint? Even faint traces of oil left behind by the fingers that have repeatedly grasped the rail can make it more difficult for primer or paint to stick to the surface. Therefore, you’ll want to thoroughly clean every nook and cranny of the aluminum handrail before you begin applying any new finish. Start by lightly sanding the surface with steel wool, sand paper, or a sanding sponge. Brush away any resulting dust and wipe the handrail down with a degreaser. If possible, consider using a power washer to gently blast away anything that might compromise the bond between the handrail’s surface and the new finish that you’ll be applying.
4. Prime and Paint
Once the aluminum handrail is clean and dry, you can begin applying the primer. While it might be tempting to grab the can of primer left over from your last painting project, that’s probably a bad idea. All primers are not the same, and using one that is intended for painting aluminum is a must. After the primer is completely dry, you can apply your first coat of paint. Again, it is crucial that you select a paint that is intended for use on aluminum. With most paints, you’ll need to let the first coat dry for at least 24 hours before covering it with a second coat.
A Better Option
If you follow the proper procedure, you can paint an aluminum handrail. That doesn’t mean that you should. A meticulously painted handrail may be attractive initially, but this finish cannot match the durability and resilience of powder coating. Ultimately, replacing an aluminum handrail with a new powder-coated handrail is almost always a better option than painting an aluminum handrail.
What if you have your heart set on a particular color scheme? With the wide range of colors, textures, and styles available at Aluminum Handrail Direct, you’re sure to find exactly what you want in our selection of powder-coated aluminum handrails. Why invest time, money, and effort in producing a painted finish when you can have a new, stylish handrail that provides both the exact look that you want and the added durability of powder coating? In fact, our handrails come with a lifetime limited warranty against defects in workmanship and materials. You can be confident that they’ll be there whenever you need them for years to come.
When you need an aluminum handrail that you can count on, turn to Aluminum Handrail Direct. We work diligently to provide our customers with exemplary products that deliver top value. That’s why we source American-made components and extrusions and utilize local powder-coating facilities. To explore our full selection, visit us online today.