How do you make a faux brass stair railing?

by Kristina

Standard iron railing finished with faux paint to look like antique brass.

Standard iron railing finished with faux paint to look like antique brass.

Standard iron railing finished with faux paint to look like antique brass.
You don't have to live with boring black or white iron railings anymore!  With a little paint you can turn any ordinary railing into something quite extraordinary!

Hello Jane,

On your 'Stair Railing Ideas' page, you show a photo of a stair railing that I would like to recreate for my home. It's the one where you discuss how you had a painter faux your stair railing, but you didn't like the result, so you tried removing the faux, but in the process achieved the old brass railing look that you had wanted.
I saw this photo on another website and spent two days tracking it to your website. I'm glad I did, I absolutely love your website and hope to use some of your ideas for our home.
As for the railing, it is perfect for our small entryway and I'd like to try to recreate it. Is it possible to purchase the (pre-faux) railing somewhere, which I could then (try to) faux? If not, can you email me the dimensions for the top and bottom rails, Newel posts, balusters (and distance between the balusters), etc.
Also, what is the railing made of and what product was used to faux it to look like old brass? Any information you can provide would be much appreciated.

Thanks so much, and thanks for inspiring me. We are building with a very small budget, and I was beginning to resign myself to mediocre and uninspiring, but you've given me hope.

God bless,



fab frugal Jane write back:

Hi Kristina,

I too loved how that railing turned out :) The railing itself was a "builder stock" square spindle iron railing you could buy anywhere. The spindle width is whatever the modern building codes call for. Note: these spindles are thicker than on a traditional wrought iron railing (approx. 1 inch square) and they are hollow inside.

The painter started with a neutral tan color for the base that was close to the similar in tones as the color brass. If you have an old brass object or trinket lying around you could use that to pull colors from.

The faux paint was oil based which may have given me a bit more of what they call "open time" to play around with it before it sealed completely. In other projects on walls I've used acrylic glaze material and added 25% paint to it. This dries faster so you would need to focus on smaller sections. What you don't see in the photo is that there are several railings upstairs too.

The color you choose for your glaze should be a shade or two darker than your base. Think of it like dirt and grime.

After the glaze had been ragged on and allowed to sit for a bit, it started to thicken. Then, the action of rubbing it in using a pattern of straight lines, you take away the "cloud" pattern of the ragging and meld the colors together.

The glaze is meant to give the effect of adding layers if dirt and grime in the crevices. By adding extra elbow grease to the high points (which would be anywhere hands would touch) you're creating that "worn over time" look.

This look could also be used in silver grays, or shades or faded black with hints of rust, etc.

Another idea which may be faster... is to start with a metallic brass paint and then use a glaze more sparingly on the crevices for aging. Modern Masters makes lots of amazing faux metal paints, and you may find the perfect color you desire without you're having to do a 2nd step.

Please share some photos with us when you get done as I'd love to see what you come up with!


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