Stair Railing Ideas: How to Create a New Focal Point
Staircases are one of the most important features in a home but are often given minor consideration when designing your interior spaces. Although some thought is given to this area's aesthetics and interior design, stair and railing are primarily designed with safety in mind.
A tumble down the stairs often ends in bumps, bruises, and injured pride — but sometimes, the outcome is far more serious. No one wants to think of concussions, broken bones, or death as being a possibility every time they use the stairs, but the fact is, if we’re not careful, they certainly can be.
As a homeowner, Stair Safety is an important detail to address. Fortunately, how to make stairs safer from trips and falls is not hard to achieve.
Including stylish safe stair railing systems in open-plan spaces is essential to bringing a fluid transition between floor levels.
There are several things to consider when creating a new focal point in your home.
- How to Select the Right Stair Railing Design?
- How to Choose the Right Material for your Home?
- How to Craft a New Focal Point with Lighting?
- Stair Safety: Provide Proper Lighting
- Stair Safety: Tread Carefully
- Don’t Neglect the Handrail
- Gate It Up
- Build to Code
- Eliminate Tripping Hazards
- Drop the Distractions
Feel free to browse our design articles blog and our image gallery to get design ideas.
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1. How to Select the Right Stair Railing Design?
Numerous stair railing ideas work well in contemporary and older properties, depending on your requirements. Straight staircases are ideal for homes that have plenty of space. In addition, you have the option to add railing on the first floor overlooking the ground floor living area.
Straight or Spiral
If you have curves in your staircase, you may require a winder style design with railing options to navigate a 90° angle. Both straight and winder stairs have a range of railing designs to work within your interior schemes. If you're looking for a funky design that provides visual interest over functionality, spiral staircases are a top choice. This intriguing design works with a range of railing options and creates a striking focal point in any living space.
As its name indicates, a floating staircase gives the illusion of floating stair treads. The treads are usually supported by the adjacent wall, a mono stringer, or from an above structure. This modern minimalistic look works well with cable, glass, and bar railing made of stainless steel.
2. How to Choose the Right Material for your Home?
After deciding on the design and location of your new staircase, the next thing to consider is the suitable material. There are several popular options, including wood, glass, and metal. Take a look at some of the ways each could work in both traditional and contemporary homes.
This type of staircase and railing offers a timeless look, pairing beautifully with traditionally styled interiors. There are various colors and wood types to suit a range of budgets, including oak, beech, pine, and ash. You might want to consider installing stainless steel cable railing with a wood handrail to add a touch of contemporary style to this classic design.
This material was once viewed as an industrial feature, but it has made waves in home décor over the past few years. Steel staircases paired with glass or cable railing offer a sleek and fresh look to your interiors. Steel stringers are prominently utilized in flights of stairs in homes, business and manufacturing facilities. You can use steel stringers in exterior applications where stainless steel is recommended.
For a luxury feel to an interior space, glass creates a glamorous architectural vibe. This material allows for an open living area and maximum light entering a space. If your goal is to create an impressive and striking feature, this look is the right pick. Keep in mind that this option is not the most economical and requires more maintenance.
Stone and concrete are often considered as an exterior feature or for properties with large entranceways. However, you can incorporate stone into any space for an industrial or contemporary look. This material pairs perfectly with cable or glass railing to give a crisp and fresh interior style.
3. How to Craft a New Focal Point with Lighting?
Staircases are often positioned in the center of properties, affecting how much natural light flows into this area. By designing this space with lighting in mind, you can create an alluring centerpiece with natural and artificial light options.
The material you choose for your stairs and railing affects how it reflects and absorbs the surrounding light. Glass and cable railing are ideal for bringing light into a staircase area, creating a new focal point.
Well-designed staircases are impressive and striking features in every home.
4. Stair Safety: Provide Proper Lighting
The first step (no pun intended) to a safer staircase is adequate lighting. You want to be able to see where you are going to prevent any falls. Stairs should never have lower illumination levels than adjacent areas, so make sure the lights over your stairs have the same wattage as those in the surrounding hallways.
Use low-glare overhead lighting to make tread nosings clearly visible and prevent strong shadows. Be sure to install light switches at both the bottom and the top of the stairs, so you don’t have to traverse an unlit staircase, and placing nightlights in hallways and landings for added visibility won’t hurt.
5. Stair Safety: Tread Carefully
Visibility also comes into play with each stair tread. Paint a contrasting color on the nosing of each step — a stripe works well and looks good even on carpet. As lovely as they might be, it’s best to steer clear of visually distracting patterns on the treads.
For carpeted stairs, keep tread coverings thin and tightly affixed. Soft treads — especially those that are short with a large rounded nosing should be avoided.
If your stairs are wood, concrete, or tile, you’ll want to apply something to the surface for added traction. Three long strips of non-skid tape on each step should do the trick. If you prefer your stairs to look as natural as possible, go for skid-resistant surface treatment.
A good idea would be to check on the condition of the stairs themselves. Uneven steps, cracks, bunched-up stair-coverings, or protruding nails will need to be repaired as soon as possible.
6. Don’t Neglect the Handrail
Since well-designed handrail greatly reduce the chance of a fall, they’re strongly recommended, regardless of the number of steps.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
- If at all possible, install functional handrail on both sides of the stairs.
- Handrail should extend the full length of the stairs and slightly beyond the top and bottom, without a break.
- Attach rails securely to walls and posts with stable handrail brackets. An adult should be able to put their entire weight on the handrail without damaging it, the wall, or the post.
- Handrail height, measured horizontally from the stair nose, is between 35 ½ and 38 in
- An adult should wrap their hand completely around the handrail, so a circumference of 6 ¼ in. or less is advised.
7. Gate it Up
If you live with small children, vulnerable seniors, or pets, a safety gate is a must-have. When choosing a gate, make sure you get one that is up-to-date with current safety regulations. Avoid gates that have gaps or notches that children could use for climbing.
Hardware-mounted gates have proven to be the most secure, so use them when at all possible, and if for nothing else, at the top of the stairwell. Pressure-mounted gates are not stable enough to prevent falls from the top of the stairs.
8. Build to code
When building your stair, you want to make sure that they will be compliant with your local building codes. For example, railing minimum height varies between 36" to 42" depending on your city's local building codes. Building your stair railing to code is essential to ensure a secure and safe staircase.
9. Eliminate Tripping Hazards
We tend to keep a lot of items around stairways that are major tripping hazards. Here are a few to be mindful of:
- Area rugs at the top of stairways are a tripping hazard, so they’re best done away with.
- Electrical cords. Use some tape or wire staples to pin electrical cords along the baseboards where they’re nice, neat, and out of the way.
- It will help if you rearrange furniture near or on the landings to keep pathways open.
- Refrain from storing any object on the stairs, even for a brief moment. While there’s plenty of decors that can add to the aesthetic of your stairs, it all increases the risk of falls.
10. Drop the Distractions
When using the stairs, it’s important to pay attention and proceed with caution. Use at least one handrail at all times, and avoid carrying anything which requires two hands or blocks your line of vision. As tempting as it is, don’t text, email, type, or search on mobile phones or other devices while using the stairs. Be careful to keep your eyes on the stairs.
The truth is, you can prevent most stair falls, and that prevention starts by acknowledging that there are always risks when using the stairs. By implementing simple strategies, keeping your stairs in good shape, and staying focused, you can help put an end to falls and serious injuries in the home.