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Category Archives: You Get What You Pay For

Iron Balusters: Comparing “Apples to Apples

Solid Versus Hollow Iron Balusters

Like all of the other stair parts in my “you get what you pay for” series, Iron Balusters are no different.  The quality variations between one iron baluster and another are not drastic but enough that you should understand the difference so you don’t compare the two different styles when considering price.

Iron balusters come in many designs but in two distinct styles.  These are hollow iron balusters and solid iron balusters.  The differences between the two involve more than just price.  Neither is an unsatisfactory option but the solid are definitely stronger. 

Hollow - Left Solid - Right

Hollow – Left
Solid – Right

In the past I’ve written blogs on the differences between the two and you can find more information here.  Today I want to focus more on the reasons why the two should not be compared side by side as far as price is concerned.  Hollow iron balusters are less expensive.  This is because they require less metal and because they are lighter.  They are also not as strong, but the difference is not such that they should be avoided, it just means that your balustrade will “flex” more because of a property called deflection.  Solid Iron Balusters will also flex but not as much so the railing system is stronger.  As far as aesthetics, Solid Iron Balusters have a more “hand-forged” appearance with a little more texture, sharper corners and more variations in the surface.  Hollow Iron Balusters tend to be smoother with slightly rounded corners and don’t typically exhibit the same “hand-made” look.  I want to be clear here, neither Solid nor Hollow Iron balusters are hand made these days, but the manufacturing process of the solid version does have a more authentic iron-work appearance.

Box Newel Posts: You get what you pay for!

Box Newels

As is the case with most items we buy there are occasional steals but in general when making comparisons a dramatic difference in price reflects something about the products themselves. This is to say that you get what you pay for, so although two items may appear to be the same, there are often cleverly concealed discrepancies in the quality of the materials or manufacturing or even the services or warranties offered by the manufacturer. This is true for most stair parts and today I hope to shed some light on the variations in Box Newel Posts that often makes an inferior version appear to be a steal, when in fact you may be comparing “apples and oranges.”

Newel posts are the most important structural support member of a railing system. This is due in part to their relatively large size and to the fact that they are the strongest method of securing the handrail to the floor and offering additional support to the balusters. In addition they are one of the most prominent and architecturally stunning pieces of any banister and, in fact, the home.

Box Newel Posts are available in a wide variety of styles and designs and there are several material types and methods used to manufacture them. While most methods are acceptable, it is important to know the differences so that you can determine whether or not your selection is a good deal or a “bait and switch.” I understand that not every situation demands the best and highest quality product. Appearance may be the most important factor and if you can find an inexpensive version that meets your needs it is probably a good deal. The problem that we at encounter on a weekly basis is that people believe that they are comparing two identical products (either on our site or between our site and another) that differ drastically in price. offers a low price guarantee on every product we sell so frequently we are explaining why one of our newel posts is more expensive than a competitors’. Occasionally a customer has simply found a good deal and we simply beat our competitors’ price, but as one of the oldest and most respected online retailers of stair parts our products, pricing and value have long withstood the test of time.

Comparing Stair Parts – Wood Handrail


Perhaps even more than your typical purchase, with stair parts you get what you pay for.  The problem with this is that because of the relative simplicity of the products, the variation that effect price can be so drastic that two seemingly similar products can scarcely be classified as the “same” at all.  Consider two cars, a luxury sports car and an economy car.  While both are equally suited for their particular purpose, it is impossible to confuse one as the other and comparing them as “apples to apples” is a meaningless endeavor.  They are obviously two different products, often with two radically different price points.  One does not consider the sports car too expensive or a “rip-off” because of its comparison with the economy car alone.  It may exceed our personal budget but we understand that the differences in quality, design and performance are substantial and justify the larger price tag.

The issue with stair parts, especially those sold online, is that these differences are easily disguised until you receive them.  Here is where due diligence comes in.  I don’t want to give the impression that there are not acceptable differences in stair parts.  There are luxury and economy versions of virtually everything.  The issue arises when the parts are mislabeled or presented as the same when in fact they are not.  I plan on writing several blogs on this issue because it has become so prevalent over the last few years with the downturn in the economy and the tightening of our purse strings.  Today I just wanted to create an awareness that this issue does exist and if you aren’t educated on the potential “short-cuts” you may end up with a product that is not what you were expecting.


Solid Uniform Handrail

Solid Uniform Handrail