Monthly Archives: February 2016
At WoodStairs.com, we understand that you have options when it comes to your new stair project. We appreciate your business. We are proud of our product, and we will do everything we can to make sure that you love your new stairs.
The vocabulary in the stair industry may sound unfamiliar or confusing. There are so many different styles, types, sizes, and species to chose from that the decision can seem a bit daunting, so let’s discuss some of the terminology and theory of stair design.
Think about scale. A stairway provides utility within a specific dimension but should also contribute to the spaces it joins. The actual dimension of the material in your stairway has an affect on the way the space is perceived. While thin cast iron balusters allow almost complete transparency into the stair space, thick, blocky balusters create a partition and obscure visibility.
Think about Balance. Bold colors and rich wood may seem out of place around more muted tones. Also, remember that large handrails and large balustrades require Newel Posts that are strong enough to support them.
What is your preferred style? To see several different style options, check out our selection of Box Newels and Turned Newel Posts. Think about the other elements in your home. If you have Shaker cabinet door fronts, you might be looking for a simple Box Newel Design. We can also match your elaborate turned corner posts. The kitchen is a great place to start if you are looking for inspiration. Please contact us for questions about profiles or custom matching what is already in your home. We can match any design in one of our 20 species of wood.
Depending on the design of your home, you may have stairs leading to your basement that are unsightly and hazardous. This may be a great place for you to invest in the value and utility of your home. For the purpose of this post, I will consider a rough framed stairway that I would like to finish with carpet and a wall-mounted handrail.
First, inspect the existing stairs and notice what the wall construction looks like. Be sure that you have completed the drywall. Locate the studs and mark their location on the wall so that you can mount handrail hardware. Look at the current tread material. In many cases, the rough tread material was meant to be temporary and was intended to be removed.
It is important to ensure that there is as little variation as possible between the final tread riser heights. This includes the initial rise from the finished floor. This really can’t be stressed enough and is the primary rule in calculating stair stringer cuts: every rise of every step has to be the same. If you find yourself rebuilding an entire stair, Weyerhaeuser SturdiStep® system is a great place to start.
You’ll usually encounter stringers that have been framed from 1 1/4 inch rim joists or 1 7/8 inch micro-lam beams. If you are down to bare stringers, lay out your skirt boards. Lay them on the stringers and use a framing square to mark your cuts. Remember to plan to meet your baseboard. Start the cuts with a circular saw and finish with a jigsaw. They will be visible, so take your time. Once your skirt boards are cut, measure and plan your cuts for the risers and treads. Note any spacing blocks running past the center stringer. These can be great spots for added glue and screws or nails. The better you fasten your treads and risers, the fewer squeaks you will have.
You’ve decided on wood balusters. You may have even settled on a design, but the question inevitably comes up: painted or stained? Although this typically comes down to personal preference, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you are selecting your finishes.
First, be aware that “stain-grade” wood is generally better. You can paint almost any species of wood–even MDF–and end up with balusters that look very similar. This is where WoodStairs.com differs from our competitors. We sell only solid wood balusters. Even our paint grade balustrades, handrails, and newel posts are solid poplar. The differences are hardness, durability, and quality. To compare different species of wood, consult the hardness scale found on any of our product pages.
Second, nicks, dings, and dents tend to show up more on a painted surface than a stained surface. The wood-grain and texture of a stained baluster tend to hide blemishes in the wood. However, a good painter can prepare and repaint worn or damaged painted balusters more easily than they can a stained wood surface. The final clear varnish coat on a stained baluster is more difficult to sand and often requires the entire baluster to be refinished; this limits your ability to perform spot touch-ups.
Third, consider your hardwood floor, baseboards, door casings, and even your cabinets. If you spend some time thinking about the spaces that your balustrade connect, it may make it easier to decide on the finishes for your stairs. We offer primed balusters that are ready for your painter. We also offer raw wood in almost any profile in over 20 species that can be finished right along with your cabinets.