Staircase railings are one of those things people tend to take for granted. Even if you never reach out and grab a hold of one just knowing it’s there if you need it provides a huge psychological lift most folks are not even aware of. But imagine if you were to descend the stairs and suddenly the railings were gone. The experience of descending those stairs would be more like descending a mountain instead of descending stairs only not as safe, because on the mountain at least you’re tied to someone else for protection.
Staircase Railings Provide More Than Safety
Handrails are must-have elements of any house, like a front door. They also happen to be subject to strict building codes that cover nearly every aspect of their physical structure including:
- How far they should rise from the stair
- How thick the handrail must be if it’s made of wood
- How much of a load the railing must be able to withstand
- How wide a stairway can be before it requires handrails on both sides
And so on. No matter what you may think of staircase railings you’re going to have to address them from an aesthetic angle at some point, because the government says you have to have them. So here are some things to keep in mind when choosing railings for your stairway.
- Aesthetic Integration – You want a railing that’s going to mesh seamlessly with the existing wood of the stair as well as the existing design ethos. For example: if your stairs are spare rectangular boxes you don’t want an ornate railing system and vice versa. If your stairs are oak you probably don’t want maple handrails and if you have custom wood stairs you don’t want to cut corners on the railings.
- Material – If you have a wood railing outside in a harsh climate you’ll be replacing it every few years as the wood breaks down from exposure to rain, snow, ice and the vicious freeze/thaw cycle. On the other hand wood is typically the way to go indoors. And why not? It’s beautiful, functional and versatile all at the same time.
- Usage – The final configuration of your staircase railings will depend in large part on who will be using the stairs. Are they elderly and infirm? Is there someone in the house who is larger than most average people? Are there going to be a lot of kids running up and down the stairs? Will there be a stair lift attached to the staircase at some point? All of these things need to be considered when choosing the right railing for your stairway.
Handrails are one of those essentials that get very little attention until they save someone from serious injury or it’s time to replace them. But railings are as important as stairs themselves. Fortunately, like stairs, they can be shaped and finessed until they transcend their utilitarian purpose and become essential interior design elements. Give the professional stair builders at Stair Star a call and let us help you decide what type and style of staircase railings are right for your home.