Job: Capping your iron railing with a wood handrail
Difficulty: Medium to Easy depending on skill level
Tools: Chop Saw, Tape Measure, Hammer, Drill, Screws, Titebond Glue
Adding wood handrail to a full wrought iron balustrade can dramatically increase the look of 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 was once two separate railing styles are now 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 in 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.
Still, you may have a perfectly good fully wrought iron balustrade but lacks a little something. You can, of course, replace the entire system or you could just add a wood rail on top of the existing wrought iron rail. This is especially easy if your top rail is square or rectangular with a flat surface, in which case the new handrail can be screwed directly on top of it. If you have a more detailed profile handrail the wood handrail can be plowed so that the iron rail recesses into the wood handrail, thus concealing it. Most wood handrails are available plowed to several standard dimensions; however, you may need a custom width or depth to fit your particular situation. Woodstairs.com can custom plow any of our wood handrails at no additional charge. You might also consider several other methods of enhancing your existing balustrade in addition to simply adding a wood rail as described. For example adding stair treads, newel posts, or painting. Feel free to mix and match as well. There are often a variety of ways to get a beautiful system out of what you already have without having to start from scratch and replace everything.
If you have decided that capping your original iron stairway is the best and most affordable option. Here are the steps you need to take to make it happen: