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Category Archives: Stair Remodeling

Ordering Your New Stairs

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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.

Starting Steps

Starting Step Right Side

 Starting steps protrude into a room at the base of a staircase and may be visible from several sides. This added surface area can showcase  materials and finishes of the risers and treads. It can also be used for base newel posts or elaborate volutes.  Substantial starting steps can also give scale and balance to a staircase by providing a proportionate base for wider newel posts and handrails.

Starting Step from AboveStarting steps have made a resurgence in contemporary stair design. These exaggerated first stair treads are a great way to establish a tone for your stairs and to draw the eye up the newel post and across the entire balustrade. Starting steps also provide utility and functionality when stairs meet a landing by allowing multi-directional access to your stairs.

Starting steps are typically described as “single bullnose” or “double bullnose.” This refers to the overall shape, specifically whether the step has room for a radius cap or volute base on one (single) side or both (double) sides.  The deciding factor is usually a wall on one side of the step. Also, notice that there are specific starting steps designed for use with box newels.

When ordering a new starter step, measure across the existing stairway. This will ensure the correct fit. If you have questions, please contact us. Our toll free number is 888-390-7245.

Starting Step From Side

Stair Makeover – Changing Newel Posts

Turned and Box Newel Posts

Newel posts are the largest component of a staircase.  Because of the size and complexity of newel posts, they are also often one of the most expensive parts in the balustrade.  It is for this reason that the newel post doesn’t always match the scope and style of the railing system.  Simply put, while you do need posts, they don’t necessarily have to be large, luxurious ones.  Also, because railing systems often come near the end of projects, if it wasn’t considered early on, people often go over their budgets on other items and no longer have the money to spend on the balustrade.

Many people decide to save a little money by downgrading the newel posts in their balustrade, so as home upgrades are considered, newel posts can be a good place to start. Changing newel posts is an easy and inexpensive method of upgrading the look of your banister.  Replacing the starting posts of the stair requires very little skill.  The existing posts are removed, the new posts are cut to length and are then installed.  Newel posts can be pre-finished, or they can be finished after installation. The new posts may be similar in style, or they may be a completely different type  of post.  For example, turned newel posts may be replaced with box newel posts  and vice versa.

Stair Makeover – Adding a Wood handrail to Wrought Iron

Upgrade your full metal stair by simply adding a wood handrail.

Adding wood handrail to a full wrought iron balustrade can literally heat up your railing system without the expense of replacing the entire banister.  Wood handrails are typically larger, warmer to the touch and the eye and more comfortable in your hand.  This is one simple and inexpensive way to perform a stair makeover of an existing full iron banister.

Over the last 30 years or so, what were once two separate railing styles are often combined.  Wood and wrought iron balustrades allow you to have the warmth and comfort of wood and the versatility of wrought iron balusters.  Wood stair treads, newel posts, handrails and moldings are generally larger and tie in better with the other wood features of the home such as base, doors, moldings and furniture.  Wrought iron balusters on the other hand are far more versatile.  Rather than repeating a single baluster over the entire balustrade, multiple wrought iron balusters are combined to create patterns within the larger pattern of the banister.  Relatively new advancements (say the last 20-30 years) in wrought iron balusters have made this merger possible.  Doweled tops for installation into wood handrail instead of having to be welded to an iron rail and baluster shoes that conceal the holes in the landing tread are the two most prominent of these. 

Stair Makeover – Adding Stair Treads

The dramatic effects of adding stair treads and risers plus a little paint to your stairs.

Adding stair treads to a stairway can have a dramatic visual impact that adds value to your home.  While we have not had the chance to speak with all of our many customers who choose this option, those that we have heard from have raved about the results.  The few we’ve talked to who did this to help sell their home have been unanimous in their belief that this either helped to sell their home faster or that they were able to ask for more than they would have otherwise.  Basically, the stair treads more than paid for themselves.  This same sentiment is true on most of the home flipping shows on television.  Old and outdated stairs are always addressed through some renovation and stair treads is one of the best and easiest.

Adding stair treads and a little paint can totally transform your stairs.

Adding stair treads and a little paint can totally transform your stairs.

This is because the stair treads offer a large area to upgrade and that the difference is dramatic.  Even the most luxurious carpet is no match to the beautiful natural texture and patterns of the wood grain in solid oak stair treads.  Also, while installing stair treads does require the balustrade to be removed and reinstalled, the components are reused.  So, you don’t have to spend the additional money on handrails, newel posts, balusters, etc.  The installation is also far easier than it was to begin with because everything is already cut to length, the layouts have been done and you only have to remove those balustrades on the stairs themselves, not the overlooking balconies.  You might want to consider just adding a bullnose stair tread also called a starting step to the bottom step.

False tread caps and balustrade upgrade

False tread caps and balustrade upgrade

Stair Makeover – Replacing Wood Balusters with Wrought Iron Balusters

Upgrading from outdated to wood iron balusters can make a dramatic visual impact.

Replacing wood balusters with wrought iron balusters is one of the most common methods of upgrading an outdated balustrade.  This is not to say that wrought iron is superior to wood in general but sometimes wood balusters may have been damaged, broken, or they are simply outdated.  You  may be able to remedy this look by refinishing which I discussed in my previous post, or you can swap out your wood balusters with wrought iron as I will described today.

There are three basic methods to replacing wood balusters with wrought iron balusters, I’ve named these the Up-and-Down Method, the Secure Method and IronPro.   There is a fourth option in which you can replace the entire balustrade with the balusters this still involves one of the three methods listed above.  In fact these three methods are the same when installing a new balustrade from scratch.  Today, I don’t intend to go through the specifics of each method but rather to consider the reasons for and the possible results you can achieve by upgrading shabby wood balusters with wrought iron.

 

Changing only the balusters allows you to save time and money by keeping your the wood components intact.

Changing only the balusters allows you to save time and money by keeping your the wood components intact.

If you are interested in this option and would like more information on the details I’ve written a series of articles here that explain the processes and the pros and cons of each. 

Stair Makeover: Refinishing handrail

Adding Stair Treads can make a huge difference in the appearance of your stairs.

Although refinishing your existing stair is not in our best interest it very well may be in yours.  I mean that recommending this option may prevent you from buying any of our stair parts.  However, in all honesty this is often the best solution to dramatically improve your balustrade with the least expense possible and the results can be very dramatic.

So, if you are happy with the style and design of your balustrade and it is structurally sound then this is your first and best option.  There is really no need to replace anything more than is necessary, either structurally or aesthetically, than you need to.  Not only with this option save you money but it will save time and you can most certainly do the job yourself.Before and after restaining stair railing

Basically you will need to evaluate the system as a whole then look at the stair parts individually.  I’m going to throw in a few links here to some of the most common items that may need to be replaced, but remember if they are in good shape and you like them then keep them.  If you are lucky you may only have to sand down your existing banister parts and re finish, or perhaps you will just have to re secure some of them, the last possibility is that you will have to replace some or all of the components.  In this case, you may simply have a couple components that you need to match and replace, for example you may have a couple of balusters that are too badly damaged but the rest are still in good condition.  WoodStairs.com offers custom turnings and profiles in all available hardwoods and stair parts to match what you already have.  So we can make one or two balusters, a newel post or section of handrail to match your existing stair parts. 

Stair Makeover: Part 1

Stair Remodeling

You’re not the only thing that needs a makeover!  Actually, you probably don’t need one at all, but old, worn and outdated stairs can often use a little (or a lot) of freshening up.  Whether you want to make your home a better place to live or if you are trying to sell it, your stair and balustrades provide a great opportunity.  Over the next few days I plan to write a series of articles on one of the most commonly asked questions we address.  What are the best, easiest and most cost efficient methods of stair makeover?  Of course this question depends on what your existing balustrade consists of, what it looks like, what damages, if any, it has and how strong and secure it is.  While this question may be asked because a system is unsafe or insecure, it is usually one of aesthetics.  For some reason the existing stair is just plain ugly, doesn’t match new renovations or maybe it’s fine but not the work of art you know it could be.  Whatever your reasons, in order for me to help you decide what course of action you should take I have to address the different types of balustrades upon which you will be improving.  So, let me begin with a list of possible balustrade types and then today I will summarize the different techniques you can use to revitalize each arrangement.  In subsequent articles I will address each solution in detail.

All Wood balustrade
All Iron Railing System
Wood and Wrought Iron balustrade
Other