A properly designed and built flight of stairs is a thing of great beauty. Every part that goes into creating it plays an important role in the final product. The stair railing and the newel posts are not only important for the overall design but also for the issue of safety.
Choosing Newel Posts
Newel posts are those large posts at the beginning, and sometimes in the middle and top of a flight of stairs. In older homes, these were the central point, bearing elaborate designs and adding a bit of flourish. The range of materials used these days has changed a lot, but wood still remains a popular choice.
Oak remains widely used, not only because it is strong and durable, but when finished, it has a beautiful natural honey color. Other wood types such as ash, maple and cherry are also common. Cherry’s dark-brown color can blend in well with many colors used in home decor.
One of the first decisions a buyer will be faced with is whether to use an over the post system or a post-to-post system. With an over the post system, the stair railing runs over the newel posts, while the latter is attached using fixtures from post to post.
Whether or not you are choosing custom designed newel posts, there are some things to keep in mind. Some buyers are satisfied with the options offered by manufacturers. Either way, you should pay attention to:
* The decor of the building or home it will be used in
* The prevailing environmental conditions, since certain finishes are better suited for some climates than others
* The amount of money that is available for upkeep and maintenance
Choosing a Stair Railing
The choice of stair railing used whether on the exterior or interior of a home will rest on various factors. Exposure to the elements demands the use of the most durable material available. Maintenance and upkeep will be more time consuming in these cases.
Wood is still a very popular stair railing choice whether it will be used indoors or outdoors. The same types of wood used for newel posts are also suitable and for the same reasons. Using it in combination with metal or some other material can create a unique look.
Since the main purpose is to keep users safe, the design and size of the stair railing should be suitable for anyone regardless of age. The elderly, children and people with disabilities will find it easier to hold onto simpler types. It does not have to be boring or unattractive, but a less elaborate design may be appropriate.
Caring for Staircases
No staircase will retain its luster without some amount of maintenance. Depending on the material used to make them, the cleaning methods will differ. For external staircases made of wood, there are times when apart from sweeping the treads, a little washing with soap and water and a broom is necessary.
The following steps are helpful in cleaning interior wooden staircases:
* Sweep or vacuum the steps
* Polish or wipe with the recommended solution based on the type of wood and varnish used when making the steps
* Dust or wipe down the stair railing and newel posts, paying particular attention to grooves and carvings where dirt may accumulate
Never use wax or any type of solution that can make the stairs slippery. Check every few months for any signs of damage or decay. Detecting problems early makes it easier and cheaper to effect repairs. Check the stair railing, newel posts, balusters and treads for cracks, warping or holes.
Remember that anything made of wood is tempting to termites, so keep up your annual inspections. Proper maintenance will maintain the look of the stairway, and in effect the value of the home. A beautiful stair railing can improve the resale value of even the most basic building.