When you are building stairs and need railing for the staircase itself, as well as landings, balconies, and other associated dangerous dropoffs, the coolest option is for a craftsman to build custom railings.
While this would undoubtedly give your house instant charm, for most homeowners the cost is prohibitive. Is there an alternative? Yes, there is: a staircase railing kit.
01 of 06
While you will find no shortage of railing kits for exteriors (decks), there is a far smaller pool of products for interior. They range from the sweet-and-simple, like the hemlock wood StairSimple, up to the metal Euro-styled (and expensive) Prova and Arke.
With prices ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands, railing kits provide all the materials needed to rail in your stairs and balconies.
02 of 06
Axxys kits consist of an 8 foot run of hemlock railing; base; 15 metal balusters; 30 pivoting connectors, 2 hand rail connectors. With kits running around $224, Axxys is one of the cheapest stair railing kits you can buy.
The beauty of Axxys and similar kits is the pivoting connector for the balusters. This helps you avoid the difficulty of drilling angled holes in the base. It's also one of the weak points: the connectors are unattractive and plastic. It doesn't help that the balusters... are hollow metal.
Yet if you want quick, simple railings, StairSimple may be the way to go.
03 of 06
RailPro comes through venerable staircase supplier L.J. Smith. RailPro consists of handrail, base, and balusters.
RailPro has a bit more flexibility: you can order hemlock or oak, traditional or contemporary styles, 4" or 6" baluster spacing, and two different heights.
RailPro is a more elegant offering than Axxys. But RailPro is more difficult to obtain. While you can pick up StairSimple online or at Home Depot, RailPro involves a convoluted ordering process through L.J. Smith.... RailPro's ancient brochure attests to the fact that they seriously need to update their offerings.
The real highlight of RailPro is the way the balusters invisibly attach to the base/shoerail. They nearly look like they were built in place by a carpenter.
04 of 06
UK-based Prova makes slim, sleek Euro-styled stainless steel railings appropriate for both exterior and interior.
The infill part of the railing is what distinguishes Prova from other railing systems: tensioned cable, tubes, or clear plastic acrylic panels.
Prova advertises that its systems help to show off the view behind the railing. While this may be true, another reason for installing a cable, tube, or glass railing system is to show off that system. You really have to like shiny stainless... steel, because that is the only kind of post (newel) they offer.
Lowe's carries Prova products. While Prova is not at Lowe's stores, you can find it on Lowes.com. Bonus for U.S. homeowners, on Lowes.com you pay in dollars, not Euros.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Arke stair railings can be obtained from U.S. distributors, though its products are styled and produced in Italy. Arke is the U.S. subsidiary of Albini & Fontanot.
Arke is mainly about spiral and modular stairs, but they have a number of stair railings, too. Named Lan, Nik, and Inox, their railings sound like something you would buy at IKEA.
If you like Prova's cable or tube infill design, but do not want the shiny steel, Arke's Inox line, with its brushed satin steel, might be just... the ticket.
06 of 06
Learn Stairs Terminology
Note on stairs terminology:
- Railing: The long part that you hold when walking up or down the stairs.
- Balusters: Vertical posts that rest in the base at bottom and railing at top. Balusters do not provide substantial structural support for the railing. Rather, they are intended to prevent people or objects from falling through.
- Base or Shoerail: Long section at bottom that parallels the railing. Balusters set into the base.
- Newel: Large vertical support posts at the end of a staircase railing.
- Infill:... Not commonly used, this general term refers to the sections between newel posts that prevent people or objects from falling out. Usually balusters are infill, but horizontal cables or tubes, or clear acrylic, can be used as infill, too.