When it comes to home improvement projects, residential pros know that renewing a staircase can have a dramatic effect on a home.
A stairway project can either be extensive, such as installing a brand new system, or minimal, such as adding newel caps. Not only will it bring in a fresh look, but it can also be a matter of safety.
Stair part manufacturer LJ Smith Stair Systems says general daily use takes its toll on balusters and bannisters. If a stairway project is a matter of renewing a dated stair’s appearance, LJ Smith says it’s a good idea to check that each piece of the railing system is firmly in place.
Exterior stairs and decks are important as well. Half of the 60 million decks in the country are in need of repair or full on replacement, according to the North American Decking and Railing Association.
These days, design trends seen in other areas of the home are trickling into stairwell designs, too.
“Waterfall designs are gaining in popularity throughout the home,” writes Beth Galigher, director of marketing and new product development, on LJ Smith Stair Systems’ blog. “You see the same free-flow design in kitchen islands, countertops, and vanities. Now it’s catching on with stairway systems.”
And as modern and more contemporary styles continue to increase in popularity, the look can be achieved through an updated stairway. The stairwell is an ideal place to blend different materials, such as metal and wood. This design choice is popular overall, but LJ Smith Stair Systems notes popularity varies by region.
“My feeling is that our current top selling products--box newels, iron balusters, and square designs---will continue to gain momentum in 2020 over traditional turned stair parts,” says John Houskamp, director of marketing of LJ Smith Stair Systems for the upper United States. “There are definitely ways that our stair systems compliment the varying wood millwork products offered by Ornamental.”
Just like interiors, stairwells are becoming increasingly minimalistic compared to their ornate mouldings from the past. Top sellers include plain styled balusters and newels.
“The most important thing to remember is that stairs are not just conduits between different areas of the house,” writes Sebring Design Build. “They also play an important role in setting the feel and look of your home. A well-designed stairway can transport a contemporary living room back to the Victorian era or create a warm welcome at the entryway.”
We found seven products that will help improve the appearance and safety of your staircase:
Ornamental specializes in moulding manufacturing and its stair riser options include herringbone shiplap, beaded wainscotting, oak, or primed. These premium MDF risers are 7-9/16 inches wide and 42 inches long. For those homeowners who look for a modern farmhouse design, the white primed decorative risers are ideal. The company says risers can easily be glued to the stairwell and you’re done.
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Feeney says infills for railings are a growing trend and the company’s resin panels offer unique designs with both contemporary and natural influences. These panels do not have to fill every inch of a stairwell either; they can be mixed and matched to create a personalized design. Options include organic elements such as rice grass, leaves, and bamboo embedded into the ¼-inch-thick resin. Nine designs are available.
This year has been the year for matte black finishes. From kitchen faucets to hardware, matte black finishes are popping up everywhere. Homeowners love the clean, dramatic look and Viewrail’s stainless steel rod railing certainly captures all eyes. Viewrail also offers a 10-year finish warranty and says its rod railing are non-corrosive and non-porous.
If mixing metal with natural wood is your client’s thing, a metal newel cap can add a nice touch. The square metal newel caps are available in six different sizes, two styles, and come in low sheen black, matte nickel, oil rubbed copper, satin black, or stainless steel. Adding a metal newel cap can add another layer of design and further make a stairwell stand out.
Carolina Stair Supply’s Ole’ Iron Slides is the only patented iron baluster available, according to the company. Ole’ Iron Slides can be installed using average hand tools and can be used to fix broken balusters or replace stair railings. Installers have a swivel top that can adjust to any angle and can adjust heights from 29½ inches to 38½ inches with shorter options available. Carolina Stair Supply offers six styles ranging from the trendy plain baluster to more ornate S-scroll balusters.
Glass railings can make a small, tight room feel more spacious with the removal of solid balusters and railings. For open concept floor plans, glass railings can make an area feel even more open and limitless. For exterior uses, a clear glass baluster and rail helps to maximize views. Wolf Handrail’s glass balusters are 8 inches wide and offer a more unique take on a classic glass railing. The tempered glass is ¼ of an inch thick with a 100% aluminum alloy frame for strength.
For the ultimate modern staircase without traditional balusters, look no further than LJ Smith’s metal panels. These pre-assembled panels offer easy installation and complement urban and modern interiors. There are seven panels and three different heights available including knee wall panels. According to the company, panels will accommodate most straight and L-shaped stairs.