The Significance of Stair Railings

by Matt Goering

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Stair railings are an important aspect of any stairway. They can provide a sense of class and elegance to any set of stairs. More importantly, they are a vital safety feature protecting you and your loved ones from harm. If you're looking to replace or install a new set of stair handrails in your home, here's a few things to consider as you look around.

Because of the wide range of materials that are available to choose from, it's important to ask yourself where your railings will be installed and which look you like best before you buy.

  • Wood is probably the most popular material, especially with interior stair handrails. It's attractive stained or painted, and adds a warm, comfortable feeling to any stairway.
  • Metal is a close second, and is probably the better choice if the stair rails are going to be installed outside because of its longevity and resistance to weather.
  • Stone is tough to beat if you can afford it. There's nothing more striking than a polished marble stair railing, though be sure your structure can support the weight. Stone is heavy and stairs might need to be reinforced in order to accommodate it.
  • Aluminum and Vinyl stair rails are available for purchase as well. These materials are cheaper than the others previously mentioned, and have the benefit of being virtually maintenance free. Their one big drawback is that they just don't measure up when it comes to looks. This makes an excellent product for outside applications, though not as well suited to the indoors.

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    Stair Handrails

    If you're having trouble deciding, maybe you'd prefer a mixture of the two? Metal stair rails with wooden balustrades are a stunning addition to any home, and will provide you with the best of both worlds.

    Talk to an Expert
    There are two reasons you'll want to talk to a contractor or other craftsman experienced in installing stair railings before you buy. For starters, an expert will be able to provide you with a much broader line of options to choose from. Materials are an important place to start, but you'll also be choosing from different styles, colors, type of wood, shapes and more. Getting expert advice when making such a huge decision is always a good idea. The second reason is that you don't want to take chances where installation is concerned. As mentioned before, your stair railings aren't just there for looks. They also provide an important safety barrier between your loved ones and potentially dangerous falls. By having them professionally installed, you'll ensure that your stair rails are one thing in your home that you'll never need to worry about.

    Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.