Monday, May 4, 2009

Staircase Railings Part Five: Mistakes to Avoid

Welcome to the final post on staircase railings series. There are a couple of very important mistakes to avoid listed below. Many of the other mistakes listed are of an aesthetic nature. My goal is to present information that will prevent you from making any of these mistakes.

Most people do not realize the many choices they actually have when it comes to their staircase. One thing that is avoidable is for a homeowner to move into their home and be disappointed in the location of the newel post, the width of the staircase, the size of the tread, etc. These are all things that can easily be customized if the homeowners wishes had been known to the architect.

1. Make sure the distance between each spindle or baluster meets the requirement set forth by the building codes department. Also, the height of the railing must meet the building code requirement.

You do not want a child’s head to become stuck between two spindles or your pet’s head either.

2. Before deciding on an elaborate ornate design, consider the effort it will take to keep it clean. You don’t want a beautifully designed railing to be full of dust.

A good analogy is the wheels of a car. Some of the best looking wheels are intricate and to look their best need to painstakingly be cleaned by hand. Due to time and budget constraints a car owner will find they often drive around with somewhat dirty wheels.

3. If selecting an iron railing and adding a brass design element, keep in mind that the brass will occasionally need to be polished.

4. If any part of your handrail is attached to the wall, make sure there is backing in that wall for maximum support. See previous post on backing here. It is a good idea to add backing to  both walls so if an additional handrail needs to be added, it will be securely attached to the wall.

5. Be specific regarding the location of the newel post.

You have several options: Attached to the floor, on the first step, second step, third step, built into a step, etc.  Click here to see some of the options.

6. Be specific in stating whether you want an iron handrail or a wooden handrail (or other material).

If  your staircase railings will be iron, let your architect, designer, or builder know your preference on railing. You don’t want any assumptions. Click here to see iron handrails and click here to see wooden handrails.

7. Be specific regarding the circumference of the spindles or balusters and their shape.

You don’t want anyone making assumptions regarding what you want.

8. If your staircase will have a landing at a turn, make sure the width of that landing will accommodate any furniture you plan to move to upper floors.

9. Spend time noticing and measuring the width of your friend’s staircases so that you have an actual visualize on the width you desire.

10. Make sure the height of all rises is consistent from the first step to the top step.

I was in a home where the height of the riser changed at the landing midway up the stairs which throws off the cadence you have developed in your step thus having the potential to cause a fall. 

11. Specify whether you want an open sting(er) or closed one. Click here to see photos.

12. If you are a big footed family and need deeper treads, let your architect know before drawing the first floor plans so extra space can be allocated for the staircase.

13. If you want any type of lighting on the riser or tread make sure that is specified.  Often lights are placed in the staircase wall but in some cases the stairs have a lighting detail.

Feel free to leave a comment, I love hearing from you! …susan


susan said...

Susan-So glad you stopped by! I just started my blog in February! I am dying to try Windows Live Writer, but am afraid to tamper with anything!! :) Your job sounds very interesting. I hope you'll visit again and maybe we can learn together--another G.R.I.T.S. Susan

Anne Marie said...

You have some wonderful advice here on your blog---
it's a lot of work to get it all written down so orderly...very nice.

DesignTies said...

Lots of good information, thanks :-)

We currently have NO railings at all in our house. I'm so worried a dog or a human is going to go through a hole in the floor...

Kelly @ DesignTies

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

HI, Susan, hope you're doing good! I have thought about doing a post about shopping yardsales, so I'll do that. I've seen other bloggers cover that subject very well too, but maybe some of my readers could benefit as well. I'll put something together soon on that. Thanks so much for coming by. I really hope to inspire more people to shop this way. It's truly changed the way I view shopping totally. I don't even feel at home in the big dept. stores or the mall anymore. And I used to fit in there just fine! :)

Vimsingen said...

Very nice blog, I have learned alot!
/Vimsingen from Sweden