When you are building stairs and need a railing for the staircase itself, as well as for landings, balconies, and other peripheral areas, often the only option is to hire a carpenter to build custom railings.
While this would undoubtedly give your house instant charm, for most homeowners the cost is prohibitive. Plus, fine woodworking is a skill set that many of us don't have.
But there is an alternative that is far easier and less expensive. In many cases, they can be installed by a do-it-yourselfer: pre-configured stair railing kits.
Interior vs. Exterior Stair Railing Kits
While you will find no shortage of railing kits for exterior decks, there is a far smaller pool of products for interior staircases. These products range from simple, less expensive kits on up to the metal, more expensive Euro-styled products like Dolle USA's Prova and Arke's Inox or Nik lines.
With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands, stair railing kits provide all the materials needed to rail stairs and balconies, keeping users safe and adding a distinctive design element to your staircase.
What Stair Railing Kits Are
A stair railing kit is a unified collection of all of the elements to build a short stair railing. Kits typically include the hand railing, balusters, newel or other types of end posts, and all hardware to attach the railing to your wall or floor.
Most stair railing kits are fairly short—6 to 10 feet. But they can usually be attached to other, same-model kits from the same manufacturer to form railings that are as long as you need.
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Dolle USA's Prova staircase system is a line of 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 stair railing kits: 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 its sleek, gleaming ultra-modern appearance.
This type of railing and infill system is especially valuable if you have a home with a view. Vacation houses, lakeside homes, seaside cottages, and mountain cabins all can benefit from having this style of railing on exterior decks.
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Arke stair railings can be obtained from US distributors, though its products are styled and produced in Italy. Arke is the US subsidiary of Albini & Fontanot.
Arke is mainly about spiral and modular stairs, but they have a number of stair railings kits, too. Named Lan, Nik, and Inox, their railings sound like something you would buy at IKEA. Lan is the most bargain-friendly offering from Arke and is a smooth, continuous railing system that can parallel any staircase configuration. The Nik is a more premium line that uses aluminum balusters, steel cables, and a wooden handrail. Nik is meant only for straight stairs or balconies.
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 what you want for your house. The Inox line's round balusters are joined with parallel tubes.
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Vista offers rails in six types: regular picket railing, wide picket railing, framed glass railing, frameless glass railing, cable railing, and glass wind wall.
The railing kits come with fully assembled posts. All pieces conform with building codes, though you should always check for code specifics in your area.
Vista railing kits are easy to install. Because they're made of aluminum and other durable materials, they are easy to maintain.
- Railing: Railing is the long part that you hold when walking up or down the stairs.
- Balusters: Balusters are vertical posts that rest in the base at bottom and railing at the top. Balusters do not provide substantial structural support for the railing. Rather, they are intended to prevent people or objects from falling through. The space specified by most local building codes is 4 inches or less.
- Base or Shoerail: This is the long section at the bottom that parallels the railing. Balusters rest in the base.
- Newel: Newels are vertical support posts at the end of a staircase railing. Newels are both functional and decorative. Newels represent one of the strongest points in the staircase railing.
- Infill: 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 also be used as infill.