What to Know About Replacing a Stairway System - Part One

Replacing an interior stairway system is a big step for a homeowner. Literally. However, with the help of a building professional, the stunning transformation results make it worth the effort.

To make the job easier, we’ve asked industry experts to offer a variety of recommendations, from design style to technical details, to make an interior stairway replacement a focal point in your home.

Make a Big Impact

“A stairway renovation can be the show-stopping element that makes the biggest impact on your entryway,” says Tamara Day, host of HGTV’s Bargain Mansions television show. “Oftentimes stairways are overlooked, which is a mistake.”

Day suggests that the stairway presents an opportunity to be both bold and dramatic with your personal style. “I like to consider the spindles (or balusters) as the repetitive element that adds drama,” says Day. “If your house is traditional, try going a bit modern with the spindles to layer the style. If there’s lots of woodwork in the entry, add in a painted handrail for contrast. If you have tile flooring, go for a wooden railing and spindles to warm up the space. Overall though, make sure you fall in love with the details … they truly make the design!”

Look at Your Floors

Martin Crandell, the owner of Martin Stairways in Calif., agrees with many of the points made by Day.

“People need to consider the flooring in the area around the stairs,” says Crandell, who installs more than 100 stair systems each year. “Most of the time there’s wood flooring, and the idea is to have your stairway either match or really contrast the wood species.”

    

Crandall points out that you should understand the difference between stair wood and flooring wood. “Stair wood is painted or stained after it’s installed,” says Crandell. “Flooring wood comes pre-stained. Stair wood gets its coating on location once the project is complete.”

Tips to Add Style

Before Tom Kraeutler started hosting The Money Pit home improvement radio show and podcast, he spent a number of years building stairs and installing railings in homes across the nation.

“For many builders, railings are seen simply as a code requirement, and not as a design element or opportunity,” says Kraeutler. “That’s a mistake. Many stock houses have just one or two railing designs --- either wood ‘colonial’ style or prefabricated metal railings. These both can look cheap and kind of cheesy.

“The good news is that homeowners can get a new look for their stairway system in a matter of hours. By switching out old-styled wood balusters to newer iron balusters you get a new look to your stairway quickly. This creates a totally improved ‘first impression’ for people entering the home.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 in our “What to Know About Replacing a Stairway System” series that will appear soon!

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