Banisters can be metal or wood, and either surface can be painted. Removing the existing paint from a wooden banister is a necessary step before you refinish it. Removing the paint will give you a smooth, clean surface to which the new finish can stick. You can remove the paint with a regular chemical paint stripper. Read the safety directions before using any chemical stripper.
Things You'll Need
Gel or paste paint stripper
Place drop cloths on the floor under the banister. Attach drop cloths to the rails of the banister using painter's tape if you are not going to strip those as well.
Paint a paste or gel paint stripper onto the banister with a paint brush. Apply it in a thin, even layer and try not to brush the same area more than once.
Let the stripper sit on the banister for the time directed on the container. You will see the paint begin to bubble up as the stripper loosens it from the wood.
Scrape the stripper and the old paint away from the wood with a putty knife. Once you have scraped away all the paint, wipe the banister down with a solvent as directed on the stripper container using a rag. This could be mineral spirits or water.
Use 120-grit sandpaper to sand away any paint that the stripper did not remove. Wipe the banister with tack cloth when you are done.