Spring is just around the corner. It’s time to start planning that home improvement project that you’ve wanted to do but have been waiting for the right time. Well, that time is now.
The cost of completing your project will never be lower. Labor and material costs are down, but, not for long. Building material prices are starting to climb as the demand increases. Many people have waited long enough and are moving forward with their projects.
The one project that is on many homeowners lists is updating their old staircase and balustrades. Many builders only offer their homebuyers a basic stair design package to keep the initial price of the house down. We have helped many of these customers upgrade their stairs from the plain, basic cookie-cutter design to a more sophisticated look for a relatively small investment.
Many homes are designed around the staircase utilizing its grandeur to enhance the elegance and atmosphere of a home. Every stair, large or small, has the potential to give your home a warm inviting beauty that will last for many years.
The first step in planning your stair is deciding on a design that works well with your home’s decor. Your stair should follow and accentuate the same style as your house or particular room. This could be modern contemporary, Mediterranean, early American, or just about anything that you have in mind.
The carpet has to go! The single biggest improvement to give your staircase character is replacing the carpet with hardwood treads. This can be accomplished very easily with Retro Fit treads. These modified hardwood stair treads give you the appearance of full 1″ thick treads without the hassle and expense of removing the existing rough treads. Retro Fit treads can be simply cut to length, then glued and nailed into place directly over the rough treads. Since many of the carpeted staircases are have a mortised and wedged tread to stringer assembly, removing the treads is a very difficult process and may require additional framing. The Retro Fit tread avoids this expense.
In addition to the treads, you will need to add a riser board to the face of the riser which may be stained or painted as you choose.
The next step is to replace the balusters (spindles or pickets as they are often called). The baluster selection is often the most difficult decision to make. There are hundreds of baluster designs and patterns from which to choose. The baluster selection will determine the style or theme of your stair and ultimately the home.
We are seeing a strong trend toward contemporary modern themes. This includes glass panel balustrades and stainless steel cable systems. You can add “warmth” to these designs by integrating wood railings and handrails with the glass and cable. If you have young children using the stair, you may want to shy away from the glass. It shows little jelly fingerprints very well. That aside, glass makes a very beautiful system.
The wrought iron baluster collection is our next best seller. This is where you can be very creative in your designs and colors. Wrought iron balusters are often referenced by the region that they represent. Tuscany, Palermo, Marsalis, are just a few of the many balusters available. This reference makes it easier to coordinate the style of baluster to the decorating theme of the home.
Iron balusters can be arranged in a multitude of patterns to create the perfect look for your stair size and shape. This allows you utilize a scroll baluster at strategic spots for accent while selecting a smaller, less expensive baluster to fill in the other areas. Or arrange a single basket, double basket, single twist combination. The options are endless.
Wood Balusters range from the straight square painted style to the ornately turned exotic woods. Nothing warms a stairway more than rich stained wood. With the availability of nearly every type of wood, the only restriction to your imagination is price. Wood balusters can range from $3.00 per baluster to $50.00 per baluster.
Most balusters can be replaced without removing the handrail. However, to achieve a clean new appearance and perhaps change the design of the balustrade, a new fresh handrail is best.
There are two types of rail designs; Post-to-Post, and Over-the-Post. A Post-to-Post system is simply the handrail installed between two square top newels. The finial, or post top, extends up past the handrail. The Over-the-Post system has the rail running over the top of the pin top newels. This Over-the-Post method creates a continuous handrail throughout the stair. Handrail fittings are used over the top of each newel to allow for attachment and maintain a consistent reveal at each post top.
When planning a staircase, there is one rule I stress to my customers. Don’t let price be the sole qualifier in making your selections. Every time you enter your home and look at that staircase, it should put a smile on your face. You will be looking at that stair for a long time and it must be a work of art that is pleasing to you and everyone who enters your home.
If everyone put as much thought into the design of their stairway as they do in choosing furniture or which flat screen TV to buy, there would be more happy homeowners. Your stairway will be around much longer that either of those and may even cost less.
The guests in your home will remember your elegant staircase much longer than your Flat Screen TV.