By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Many exterior stair landings of older homes have metal railings that provide a sturdy barrier and firm gripping surface to assure safe footing. But when the painted surface becomes chipped at high-use areas or rust forms from corrosion, the metal needs a good paint job to restore its good looks. A thorough scraping, priming and fresh topcoat of paint will add a protective finish for years to come.

A painting contractor will charge $125 to sand, prime and paint 100 square feet of rusted metal railing, which includes the labor and material. You can buy the primer and paint and do the job for $35, saving 72 percent. You’ll need sandpaper, a wire brush, a paintbrush, a drop cloth and painter’s masking tape to protect the surrounding surfaces from paint drips. If there are some areas you can’t reach with the paintbrush because it’s too wide, use a small artist’s brush or foam brush to apply paint in tight spots. If you’re new to doing it yourself, consider this as a good first-time project. It’s easy and inexpensive, and unless you spill the paint, it’s goof-proof. Spend time scraping off any loose, flaked and chipped paint, and remove rust from the surface with a wire brush. Sand all the surfaces smooth and apply a rust-inhibiting primer, followed by a topcoat of protective enamel designed for metal. Use a drop cloth to protect any shrubbery or plants nearby.

The average price to paint a metal railing noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself. Tweak the data by adding your ZIP Code to find a local cost.

Cost updated 2012

Would you do this project?

Poll Results

  • DIY58%
  • PRO42%