Here's a simple solution for covering up an old, outdated railing.
Materials and Tools:
large sheet of cardboard
3/4" plywood sheets (The amount will depend of the size of your railing; we used four, two for each railing.)
grass cloth or wallpaper
1. Hold cardboard to the outside of your old rails.
2. Draw the design of your new rails onto the cardboard template.
3. Cut out the cardboard template and trace onto a sheet of 3/4" plywood. Cut two sheets of the new design out per rail.
4. Apply a fabric or wallpaper design of your choosing to the outsides of the plywood. For this project we used grass cloth wallpaper and applied it with spray adhesive. Trim the excess paper off with a utility knife.
5. Apply glue to the edges of one of your plywood templates and then attach a piece of 3/4" plywood for the faceplate. Fasten with 1-1/2" brad nails.
6. Attach the second plywood faceplate to the other side. Finish applying the faceplate around the front side, the rail and the top.
7. Slip the new railing right over the existing one.
8. Attach plywood trim to finish your new stair rails.