My mother decided that she wanted her family room to look different. When you walk in her front door, the stairs to the basement are about 5 feet away from the front door, and to the right of the stairway is the family room. She has this oak banister that she wanted to change. This process does take some time but it is well worth it in the end. Just by staining the railing her family room looks really classy.
After the sanding is done, wipe down the railing so nothing is on it. Usually when you stain they say to use a natural or acrylic bristle brush, apply the stain then wipe it away. What my mom did is used a foam brush, applied the stain and DID NOT wipe the stain off. This gave her a darker and richer color.
She started by staining the top and the bottom of the banister.