Stain Colors for Handrail Lumber

One of the most frequent questions I get is regarding paint or stain on the dimensional lumber. Along with the many different railing designs, there is a greater number of stain options. Mountain Laurel Handrails are typically built with a red cedar railing 2×4 top and bottom to which the sticks and branches are fastened. These 2x4s are also usually painted or stained to match the deck or balcony posts and other lumber. To help with a color selection, I’ve selected some common and not so common stain colors so that you can see what the wood looks like once it is stained. In the image below, I’ve stained a white pine 2×4 and a red cedar 2×4, both sanded with 80 grit paper, with 9 different stain colors.

Stain colors for handrail lumber

Stain colors for handrail lumber

Color choices are one of the most difficult in any home design choice and I’ve personally witnessed homeowners agonize over the right color choices. I understand what they’re going through as I’ve been involved in color choice decisions. Hopefully, these stained boards will give you a little help in making a pick!

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Updated on February 6, 2015 by jimmypader

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2 Responses to Stain Colors for Handrail Lumber

  1. Cathie Lovell says:

    You said above that folks agonize over what color to order and that’s exactly what were doing. We have a cedar sided house and over the years the color has slowly gotten darker with each time we have to restain it. My question is…since you have seen your product in a lot of different colors we were wondering if you think it would look good with the whole railing, branches and all, stained golden oak in front of a dark cedar stained house? We have our house numbers and our name on boards that are stained with golden oak and we thought if we did the rails a lighter color that it would brighten up the front of the house so everything isn’t so dark. Thanks for your help. -Cathie

    • wood railing says:

      Hi Cathie,
      Color choices are possibly the #1 most difficult decision faced by homeowners during any construction project, new or remodel. In your case, as in many, I recommend buying some test lumber and stain testers. This is a great way to see whether the color will work for you. We typically use smooth red cedar 2x4s for the handrail lumber which might be a good choice for your home.

      The branches are naturally a reddish color, somewhat like a dark red wine. They take stain much differently than a piece of cedar. So, here’s some options for you: We can stain a stick in the shop and take a picture of it for you. Or we can send you a few sticks that have been stained. Or we can make the railings and include some tester sticks in with your order.