Stain for oak bannister rail

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


1 Oct 2019
Reaction score
Advice would be gratefully received on which good quality stain to use on an oak bannister rail which has been sanded down to the bare wood. The existing finish is a light oak. Said bannister is original from a 1930's house.

Thank you.
I don't know where you're based, but I assume the UK, and that you're perhaps a novice. Sorry if I've got that wrong, but asking the question suggests limited knowledge and experience. But, basically, given my assumptions (right or wrong) I suggest you work on the KISS principle, and go to any of the big box stores, pick a brand and follow the instructions on the can.

  • B&Q have the Colron brand, which is water based.
  • They also sell the Liberon brand, which is spirit based. I prefer spirit based stuff because, unlike water based, it doesn't raise the grain, although you do have less time to get the stuff on and wiped down to ensure even take up of the colourant.
  • Wickes also supply the Colron brand, as do Homebase.

All you'll need after that is careful preparation, careful application, and a clear finish to go over the top, e.g., varnish, and here again I prefer oil/spirit varnish. You know if you're buying spirit varnish because the can's guidance for cleaning brushes mention using paint brush cleaner, white spirits, or similar to remove excess paint from application tools prior to finishing off with soap/detergent and warm water. Slainte.
Do you need to stain the oak to change the colour, or do you really just want to know which varnish or wax to use to refinish it.

This is not intended to be insulting - just that there is a difference!!
I don't want to change the colour, was using stain in a generic sense of applying a finish, maybe it's varnish/wax I need. Just a do this/do that summary. Looking for quality brands as well. Will use oil based for longevity

UK based.
Last edited:
For clarification I want a finish that changes the colour of the bare wood but doesn't penetrate it.
For clarification I want a finish that changes the colour of the bare wood but doesn't penetrate it.
Anything that you put on will soak in slightly, except paint. An oil based polyurethane varnish will eventually yellow, a water based/acrylic varnish will tend to stay pale. Oil and wax will enrichen the colour you have at present.
Whilst wax would be the traditional finish this will allow dirt to pass through and stain the wood in contact areas. You could apply a brush coat of sanding sealer to limit this before waxing. I would however go with Danish Oil. It is easy to apply, is resistant to water marks and can be maintained easily.

Last edited:
I agree with Colin. Or some form of polyurethane varnish. Definitely not wax - dirty hands just spoil it in no time. Danish oil does darken it quite a lot, but does sand off easily if you're not keen. If you really aren't sure what to go for, best is to try the finish on some spare wood, (or similar if none available), or in a small 'hidden' area.
If you pm me your address, I'll send you a bit of oak untreated and treated with danish oil if that'd help.
I was thinking of Rustin's Danish Oil mixed with Rustin's Wood Dye to add the right oak colour to match the existing: both solvent based - would they mix OK?
I’ve just used osmo hard wax oil on the bannister id stripped and it gave great results. It’s quite pricey but you only need a small tin for a banister. I used the natural finish which leaves a light sheen but still keeps the wood looking natural. Really easy to apply, plenty of videos on YouTube. I started using a brush but in the end found it easier to use a soft cloth and rub it on. You just need to make sure you rub it on but then rub off with a second cloth so it doesn’t pool at all - you need the thinnest of coats. I lightly sanded between the first and second coat with an gentle abrasive sanding pad (looks like a dish scourer, just picked it up from lidl). Once the second coat dries you can just buff it and it looks great. I’ve attached a photo. Osmo gets really good ratings and it’s easy to see why - I used it on an old desk recently too and it came up great.


  • image.jpg
    78.7 KB · Views: 7