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stair railings

Stair railings are nearly as important as stairs themselves. Material selection is the first priority when choosing a stair railing systems. Handrails for stairs and balusters are available in different types of metal, wood, vinyl, stone and composite materials, each of which offers its own advantages in terms of decoration, durability or economy. This is an overview of the most popular types of modern stair railings for indoor and outdoor installation.

Indoor Stair Railings

Being more organic and less formal than wrought iron, wood is the most common material to install indoors, with oak stair railings being the most popular. Wood stair railings can be stained or painted to match virtually any interior, not only in color but in texture. For hardwood floors, it’s common practice to apply a stain finish on the railings to give aesthetic consistency to the landings.

While it’s a popular material for gates, wrought iron railings are less popular for homes of average size, especially for the expense. In smaller houses, wrought iron stair railings tend to look rather heavy, so it’s more common to see more lightweight metal stair railings, such as aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum railing is quite durable, coated with a baked enamel finish that makes it suitable for either indoors or outdoors.

The most modern stair railing systems for industrial homes use stainless steel and glass. Cable stair railings feature widely spaced balusters with steel cables stretched between them horizontal, typically ever 4 inches. Glass stair railings also have wide balusters, with rectangular glass panels (or panels of parallelograms) inserted between them with steel brackets.

Outdoor Stair Railings

Vinyl railing systems are usually considered the most cost-effective solution for porches and decks, offering a somewhat of the look and feel of wood to the casual eye without the wood’s tendency to warp from prolonged exposure to rain. Composite railing, though more expensive, has an even more wood-like texture, and is less likely to yellow or flake than vinyl. Since decks are more exposed to rain than porches, composite decking is more economical in the long run, with lower maintenance costs, than wood decks, so composite deck railing is a logical choice.

Wrought iron stair railings are great for decks. While railings made entirely of wrought iron are common, combinations of wood and iron, or vinyl and iron, are effective alternatives, where the banisters are made of wood or vinyl, and the balusters are wrought iron. Balusters are often sold in packs ranging from 10 and 200 pieces.

With a wide array of materials to choose from, you’ll not only have to consider how the possibilities for stair railings mesh with the look and feel of your existing stairs, but how much they’ll cost, how durable they’ll be, and how safe they are for your family. There’s more to think about than decoration.

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