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Category Archives: Design Concepts

Remodeling Your Home? Here’s How to Emerge Unscathed

Before and after restaining stair railing


For many homeowners, remodeling their home is a stressful event. Couples often experience marital strife during major home renovations due to financial stress, disagreements about things such as paint color, and the general chaos that tends to ensue when your whole life is turned upside down for weeks–or even months. While the end results are well worth it, you don’t have to suffer through months of stress and frustration while you renovate your home. Here are a few tips to help you emerge unscathed:

Plan Vacations Strategically If you’ve hired a contractor to oversee your home renovation, you can strategically plan a vacation around  the time your kitchen or bathroom will be out of commission to avoid some of the headaches that come with a major remodel. Plus, a relaxing vacation can be just what you need to take a timeout when the stress of your remodel starts to wear on you. However, if you’re acting as your own contractor, or aren’t confident that things will go as planned without your oversight, you’ll want to stick around.

Make Plans for Your Pets The upheaval that comes with a home renovation is stressful for many pets. If your pet is the anxious type, hire a dog boarder or pet sitter while your home is being torn apart. This will limit anxiety for you and your pet.

Expect the Unexpected Unforeseen complications can quickly increase the total cost of your home renovation, so it’s wise to plan for the unexpected. In general, add at least 15 percent to your total estimated costs. This cushion will help cover things like insect damage, water damage, or the unexpected cost of those chic backsplash tiles you just have to have. If you don’t end up using the extra funds, you can spend it on rewarding yourselves for surviving the remodel. In either case, you’ll avoid the panic that comes from being over-budget.

DIY Home Repairs that Have a Big Pay Off for Home Sellers

  • Eco-Friendly Home Repair Tips That Will Pay Off

    From leaky faucets to crooked shutters, it seems that there is always something that needs to be repaired when you own a home. Home repairs can be costly and time-consuming, and you may wonder which repairs will be worth it should you ever decide to sell your home. The good news is, there are some DIY home repairs you can make that have a big payoff when you sell your home; better yet, they are eco-friendly and can help you save money on energy bills while increasing your home’s value.

    Low-Energy Lighting

    When replacing lights or light fixtures, consider low-energy lighting options. A small investment in low-energy lighting can save you money while you remain in your home, and it will also be appealing to potential buyers. With low-energy lighting, you are able to light your home using the same amount of light for less money. Nearly 5% of the average home’s energy budget is spent on lighting, so switching to ENERGY STAR bulbs can save about $75 per year.

    Energy-Efficient Appliances

    Energy-efficient appliances do more for your home while using less energy. Most people can remove and install their own appliances with just a few tools and a little patience. ENERGY STAR rated appliances save homeowners money on energy bills, which also makes them appealing to potential home-buyers. All energy-efficient appliances are good for the environment because they save energy, but ENERGY STAR dishwashers are a particularly good investment because they use less water than older models. Switching just one appliance to an energy-efficient model is the equivalent of planting 1.7 trees and can save an average of 10%-50% of energy.

    Attic and Roof Insulation

    Insulating attics and roofs is a DIY home repair that will increase your energy savings and pay off when you sell your home. First, decide whether you want a cold or warm roof space. Cold roofs require insulation at the joists to eliminate heat escaping through unused roof space. Warm roofs are insulated between and under roof rafters. Adding insulation to your attic and roof saves energy and is eco-friendly, and choosing recycled insulation is a green alternative.

    Recycled insulation has become popular because it is eco-friendly and does not cause skin irritation as does traditional fiberglass insulation. The insulation process itself is the same, but recycled insulation is much easier to work with because you don’t need to worry about reacting to it. Be sure to check the instructions on the recycled insulation to ensure you install it to the proper depth requirement.

    Natural Flooring

    Natural flooring is a green choice that is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and made from sustainably harvested, recycled, or reclaimed sources. Bamboo and cork flooring are two types of natural flooring that are great for DIY home repair. These types of natural flooring are much less expensive than traditional hardwood floors and are more resistant to moisture than solid wood. They also do not require any chemicals for cleaning and maintenance and are highly durable.

    Water-Saving DIY Repairs

    When your water heater, toilet, pool pump, or sink begins to leak, consider replacing them with water-saving tankless water heaters, low-flush toilets, updated pool pumps, and aerator sinks. Replacing leaky shower heads with water-conserving heads can save gallons of water during each use. The bathroom and kitchen are responsible for 60% of a home’s water consumption, which makes water-saving DIY repairs eco-friendly as well as cost effective for you and potential home-buyers.


    Paul Denikin got into DIY home repair projects after his daughter was born with special needs. His initial efforts were all motivated by the desire to make his home more accessible for her. He learned everything he knows through trial and error and many helpful Youtube videos. He created to share some of the great resources he’s come across and to offer home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information.




Ordering Your New Stairs


At, 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.

Finishing Basement Stairs


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.

Painted or Stained Balusters

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

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 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.

SeDistinguished Painted 1cond, 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.

Hiring a Professional

Drilling handrail for balusters

Building or remodeling a home is a very personal experience. People who are successful in the industry understand that building relationships and earning referral business are part of the job. As a homeowner, you’ll want to find someone with whom you can communicate–it is important for them to understand and realize your vision.

The right contractor will bring industry knowledge and experience to your project. Woodworking and carpentry require familiarity with the material and an understanding of how wood will react once it’s installed. Due to its organic nature, wood is constantly moving and adjusting. An experienced carpenter will be able to utilize this tiered vantage maintaining tight trends and a sturdy banister.

Finding a carpenter you trust is imperative–after all, you’ll be inviting them into your home. It’s important to find someone who will stay on schedule and complete the work. Ask potential contractors and carpenters if they are licensed and insured to work in your area, and ask for proof. Doing business with a reputable company you can limit your risk and protect your investment.

If you have friends or relatives who have recently had work completed on their homes, ask them about their experience. Ask to see the quality of work and what it was like to do business with them. You can always reach out us. We will be happy help you find a qualified installer in your area.  Our toll free number is 888-390-7245.

Planning Your Remodel

Plan ahead for a successful project!

Remodeling, updating, and re-finishing your home can be great ways to increase its value and livability. Whether you have just purchased your home or have been in it for a while, making custom updates can be a great way to personalize your home and make it work for you. By focusing on the highly visible areas of your home, you can maximize your return on your investment.

Once you’ve decided to undertake a home improvement project, take time to do a little research. Look for images of homes you like. Take note of the styles, trends, and finishes you would like to incorporate in your own project. At this point, you may want to start discussions with a licensed contractor or someone who has recently completed a project that is similar to yours–they may have money-saving tips and ideas to help you plan your project.

Consider the way you intend to use the space during and after the remodel: you can replace a mantle in a matter of hours, but if you’re gutting your kitchen, you may not see a home-cooked meal for several months. It’s a good idea to discuss your upcoming project with other members of the household, so everyone knows what to expect.

In addition to planning the function and design, have a clear idea of your budget and schedule.

Sometimes it helps to think about your project in phases. By beginning with the end in mind, you can ensure that the finishes you select at the beginning of your project match the finishes that you will be selecting as you complete it.

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

Combining wood stair parts with wrought iron balusters

Alder and Wrought Iron Combination Balustrade

If you are considering a wrought iron baluster pattern, you may be wondering whether you should choose a full iron balustrade with handrail, posts, and balusters or a combination of wood stair parts with wrought iron balusters.

For interior balustrades, where sun and weathering are not an issue, first consider the stylistic aspect as a whole and then delve deeper into the individual components.

Wrought_Iron_BalustradeFirst, let us consider a full iron balustrade which includes handrail, balusters, and newel posts.  Wrought Iron has been used for decorative purposes since the middle ages (prior to that it was used primarily for tools and weapons).  In the early 1900’s, true wrought iron was gradually replaced with “mild steel,” which is less expensive and easier to produce.  Mild Steel has many of the properties of wrought iron and is what virtually all wrought iron stair parts are made of today, despite the fact that the term “wrought iron” was erroneously retained presumably due to marketing considerations: “wrought iron balusters” sounds more appealing than “mild steel balusters”.  If the architectural style of your home harkens back to an earlier period to which you want to remain true, then a full wrought iron balustrade may be the obvious choice.  Wrought iron balustrades in interior spaces are stronger and will last indefinitely.  Of course, this may only apply to the structural capacity; aesthetically, it may not be true.  A perfect example is the wide-spread use of wrought iron during the late 60′s and 70’s, primarily for cost purposes, that often seem dated today.  They were typically cheap designs that made little or no attempt to stand on their own creative or artistic merits.  While full iron balustrades are not nearly as common today as wood and iron combinations, there are many situations in which this style is preferable.  These include maintaining an authentic theme in a home where wrought iron is perfectly matched or in contemporary designs such as modern or semi-industrial, using horizontal iron balustrades.

Do I Need a Professional Railing Installer?

Wood and Wrought Iron Balustrade


One of the most common questions our customers ask is, “Do I need a professional railing installer?”  This is a loaded question based upon the complexity of your stair and railing system, your understanding of the simple mathematics and your carpentry skills.  A full balustrade installation can be compared to piecing together a gargantuan jigsaw puzzle with a variety of tools and using pieces that have a specific position but require some modification to get that perfect fit.  If you have zero woodworking experience then you should avoid all but the most simple of installations such as adding a wallmounted rail, etc.  Unfortunately we cannot answer this question for you but help you to find the answer for yourself.

To do this you must first evaluate your particular system and the individual components that comprise it.  The level of completion of specific components can vary based on the manufacturer which can make the installation more flexible for the professional but may also require more skilled craftsmanship.  If you are not an expert, choosing stair parts that most closely fit your banister will make the installation process simpler.  The stair specialists at are always available to help you identify the best components for your project.  Feel free to call us any time 888-390-7245

Next look at each component individually and ask yourself, “Do I have the right tool for this job”.  For example if you are installing wood balusters for stairs you will probably need a saw and a drill.  While you may not own the specific stair installation tools you may be able to borrow them from a friend or neighbor.  A large portion of stair and railing installation requires very little skill, such as screwing, plugging, sanding, etc.  So, if you know someone who is skilled in woodworking and has a few of the larger tools, they can often help with the more difficult tasks leaving you with those that require less skill.  Also, there are tool rental companies and many of the large home improvement stores have rental departments as well.