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History of the Staircase

History of the Staircase

The staircase is one of the oldest architectural achievements of mankind. But even before humans first created the staircase, they were already being formed by nature. Stairs were created by the natural formation of geography along hills, mountains, canyons, and other forms of sloped terrain. If a path follows continuously over an incline, rugged stairs will form over a long time due to nature’s forces like earth, wind, fire, and water. When these natural stairs were first seen by our ancestors, they were likely replicated onto stone structures, providing easier access to higher levels of ground.

The earliest documented form of stairs dates back to the year 8000 Before Christ (BC), by a civilization in East Asia. Ein as-Sultan, located near Ancient Jericho, was a small town inhabited by an unknown people. This town is known as the world’s oldest settlement, and has shown evidence of primitive stairs made of gravel, mud, adobo, and other earth elements. An example of this:

HiSTORY-OF-THE-STAIRCASE

Around 6000 BC, a town named Catal Hoyuk, located in Turkey, showed evidence of staircases built inside homes. Each house was built beneath the ground, and contained wooden stairs leading up to the surface so that people can walk up for ventilation. Around the same time in history, Egypt and Mesopotamia had shown signs of stairs implemented outdoors to create access to raised entrances of huts and caves.

In the year 55 BC, China had made the first granite staircase which led up a sacred mountain in Tai Shan. Confucius mentioned in one of his stories that he had gone up these stairs for religious purposes. The main function for these stairs was so that religious natives could walk up to reach divine height and establish a spiritual bond between earth and sky.  See picture below:

HiSTORY-OF-THE-STAIRCASE-2

During medieval times, spiral stairs were used in castles for military reasons, such as using height to outmaneuver the opponent. The soldier defending the castle would usually defeat the intruder trying to overtake the castle because he would have his right hand free to move in space, and attack as necessary. The invader climbing up the spiral stairs would not have the space available to move his right hand freely – his sword constantly hitting the wall, thus giving an advantage to the castle defender. This is seen in the picture below:

HiSTORY-OF-THE-STAIRCASE-3

It wasn’t until the 19th century that a mathematical system for stairs and railings were developed. A Scottish engineer named Peter Nicholson was the first person to calculate precise measurements and blueprints for the modern staircase. In Nicholson’s book, “Treatise on the Construction of Staircases and Handrails,” he illustrates in detail the proper methods for building staircases and handrails. Using Nicholson’s blueprints, stair builders around the world started to implement the classic iron and wooden staircase in a majority of all developing multi-story structures.

As buildings got taller and more advanced, staircases grew with them. Buildings now have escalators and elevators – but these will never completely replace the wood staircase. Elevators and escalators require the utilization of electrical energy, which is not reliable during a power outage or fire. Stairways are still required in buildings to meet fire and safety hazards.

Stair Parts Depot is a great place to purchase indoor and outdoor stair parts. If you are in the market to rebuild your staircase with new, high-quality stair parts, please check out our complete selection. We take pride in our shipping procedure – whether it be a large tread or small fitting, we will make sure each package is safe and sound with plenty of packaging material in order to full support the product while minimizing potential damage during the logistical transportation process.


DIY Amazing Rail

DIY Amazing Rail

The DIY Amazing Rail is engineered to make the stairway installation process as smooth as possible. The DIY Amazing Rail is a pre-built stairway section with handrail and shoe rail made of Oak and complementing black metal balusters. Add value to your home by installing the DIY Amazing Rail onto your stairs. The DIY Amazing Rail provides homeowners the material needed to remodel their staircase with popular Red Oak and black metal balusters. You can purchase the DIY Amazing Rail here.

DIY 4

There is free shipping within the 48 continental states.

 

FREE SHIPPING! Please call (510) 602-0399 or email info@stairpartsdepot.com for any questions about the DIY Amazing Rail.

DIY Amazing Rail options:

Level: Metal balusters are cut to 35″ with flat shoes attached top and bottom. Connectors are pre-assembled onto 6010 Oak handrail, and Shoe rail with one screw is fastened on position.

Rake: Metal balusters are cut to 31″ with angled shoes attached top and bottom. Connectors are pre-assembled onto 6010 Oak handrail, and Shoe rail with one screw is fastened on position.

Rails come in three sizes: 4 feet, 6 feet, and 7.5 feet.

See more pictures of the DIY Amazing Rail below:


Wall Mounted Guardrails

Wall Mounted Handrails

Always make sure to check with your local building department before attempting to build or modify your home.

Depending on how wide your stairway is, your residential and/or commercial’s building code may require a guardrail or wall-mounted handrail in order to maximize safety for your staircase. Please check with your local building code; usually if the stairway is over 4 feet long, you will need a guardrail on at-least one side of the stairs going up for maximum safety. Most commercial and residential building code will want wall mounted handrails to terminate into the wall for various safety reasons like preventing children from bumping their heads on the rail or clothing getting stuck on the rail. See how dangerous it looks when the guardrail not being terminated into the wall and is free in space:

wood-stairs

For these reasons, your local building code will most likely state that handrails must be closed off into the wall. You could do this in a variety of ways: splicing two pieces of rail at the correct angle for the guardrail to  finish into the wall – or use two level quarter-turns to terminate into the wall on either ends. Please check with your local building department for specifications on how to terminate the handrail into the wall.

However, simply attaching the handrail/guardrail into drywall will not suffice; handrail must be installed into the building’s frame work (usually into wall studs) to prevent the rail from loosening out over time. Please check with your building department. Using a level quarter turn or splicing two pieces of handrail can work if done correctly.

A Rosette can increase surface area for where the rail touches the wall, giving your drywall an extra layer of protection – while simultaneously adding an elegant finishing touch and giving your rail a home to rest on.

Please feel free to ask your local experienced stair builder for advice on how to terminate either ends of the guardrail into the wall.

Wall Rail Brackets must be used in between to further support the structural integrity of the wall-mounted handrail. Please check with your local building department; they will most likely state that your handrail will need Wall Rail Brackets to strengthen your guardrail and so it does not loosen over time.  Using a Stud Finder device can be helpful. Most commercial and residential building code state to use at least one Wall Rail Bracket in between the length of the guardrail if the total rail length exceeds 8 feet. For example, if your guardrail is 12 feet long, an example layout of Wall Rail Brackets can be perhaps be at the 3 foot, 6 foot, and 9 foot mark. Either ends of the 12 foot rail need to be terminated into the wall. Even if your handrail is 8 foot, 1 inch – you will need at least one Wall Rail Bracket for support. Building code varies by state and city.

Stair Parts Depot supplies Wall Rail Brackets in 6 finishes: Black, Antique Bronze, Brass, Brushed Nickel, Chrome Plated, and Oil Rubbed Bronze.


Open Treads with the DIY Amazing Rail

Open-Tread-Staircases with DIY Amazing Rail

Regarding the installation of the DIY Amazing Rail onto an Open-Tread-Stairway: extra metal baluster connectors are required. The Open Tread option for the DIY Amazing Rail includes extra EZ connectors to help install the 4 foot, 6 foot, and 7.5 foot section onto Open Treads.

Each Metal Baluster Connector kit comes with two connectors, which is enough to install one baluster onto the DIY Amazing Rail – one connector for the top; the other connector for the bottom. Please see pictures of black metal balusters installed onto Open Treads using Metal Baluster Connectors:


Handrails for your Staircase

Handrails for your Staircase

Handrail selection:
The handrail selection process is one that involves determining what shape, size, and species of wood you want in your house or commercial building. Whether you want to match existing woods in your home, or go with a completely new look to accent a particular style you have in mind, Stair Parts Depot can help you reach your dream of having the perfect staircase.

Stair Parts Depot offers handrails in Red Oak, Maple, American Cherry, Brazilian Cherry, Beech, Poplar, White Oak, Alder, Mahogany, Walnut, and Hickory. The most common type of handrail sold in North America is the Colonial 6010 and 6310, which are the industry standards. Below you can see pictures of the complete selection of handrails offered at Stair Parts Depot:

handrails

Prior to making a purchase, make sure your handrail profile is allowed in your city. Not every single handrail offered may meet your city’s building code. Some handrails may be too wide – others too tall. Before buying your handrail, research your city’s building codes, so that your staircase is within the allowed size.

Plowed Handrails:
Now that you’ve selected which profile of handrail you want to go with, you should decide if you need to “plow” your handrail – which depends entirely on which kind of baluster you want for your stairs. If your baluster is square-top, you will need to have the underside of your handrail plowed in order to create space for the handrail to rest on top of the balusters.“Plowing” your handrail indicates that a small rectangular portion of the bottom of the handrail is cut off in order to create space for square-top balusters.

Your wooden baluster’s width must match the plow exactly so that the handrail is rigid, safe, and immovable. After the square-top balusters have been inserted underneath your plowed handrail, there will be some extra space there. This is where “fillet” is used. The “fillet” is a portion of wood that is cut to precisely match the width of the square-top balusters. Once the balusters, handrail, and fillet have been installed, the space under the handrail will no longer be shown, and the end result will showcase a professionally-built, beautiful stairway. Here is an exampled of a plowed 6210 handrail:

plowed 6210

Shoe Rails:
Just as the handrail is meant to rest on top of your balusters, the shoe rail is designed for the bottom of your balusters. Any square balusters in your stair system will require your shoe rail to be plowed. Plowed shoe rails serve the same purpose as plowed handrails: to secure your square baluster in place. And just as fillet is used to fill in the spacing underneath the plowed handrails, it is also used to fill in the space left behind by the balusters on top of the shoe rail.

shoe rail

Bending Handrails:
Bending handrails are for curved or spiral staircases. These special handrails are cut into narrow slits of wood (glue to be applied in between) so that the wood can be molded into the desired curved shape.

See pictures of bending handrails below:

handrails

Our handrails at Stair Parts Depot are all made of the highest quality woods, and are offered at reasonable pricing. Whether you need a straight, plowed, or bending handrail, Stair Parts Depot can help you finish that staircase you’ve always dreamed of.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding handrails or any kind of wood products, feel free to call Stair Parts Depot: (510)-602-0399. Our distributor’s store hours are Monday – Friday, from 8 AM – 4 PM (Pacific Standard Time). You could pick up handrails from either of our distributor’s store locations in California or Maryland.


Newel Posts: Machine-Turned and Intricately Cut

***Please Note: not all items are always in stock.***

Colonial:
Colonial/Traditional Newels offered by Stair Parts Depot are the 4010, 4013, 4015, 4040, and 4045. The thinnest portion of the Colonial/Traditional post is 1-13/16” and the thickest portion is 3” – an overall variation of 1-3/16”. These posts have a square base that ranges from 16” to 28” depending on the overall length of the post. The 4010 (both Ball Top and Pin Top) are produced in various lengths: 48”, 54”, and 59”. The 4015 Ball Top is produced in a Ball Top. Colonial/Traditional Newels come in these variations: Pin Top, Ball Top, Mushroom Top, and Tapered Top. The 4015 Colonial Post (Ball Top) is offered as a shorter turning (4015BTS-13). The 4015BTS-13 has a 13″ face, 17″ turning, and 25″ base. The 4010 Pin Top is produced in 48”. The turning of the Colonial/Traditional Newel, which varies depending on if it is a 4015BT or 4015BTS, starts with a 1-13/16” thick notch and tapers slowly outward for 9-1/2 inches; it then curves inwards for half an inch and rests on the last portion of the turning knob, which is 4.5 inches tall. The BTS has a shorter turning (17″) and the BT has a taller turning (23″). You can match any set of balusters with the Colonial/Traditional Newel Post, but the set of balusters that match best (in terms of having the same Colonial style) are the 5015, 5040, and 5141 which are offered in Red Oak and Primed White.

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Classic:
Classic Newel posts offered by Stair Parts Depot are the 4953, 4954, 4955, and 4956. Classic Newels have a turning design with deep ins and outs. Classic Newels can be provided in a 3” or 3-1/2” form. The face, turning, and base become slightly thicker when the Newel is turned with a 3-1/2” blank post. Regarding the standard 3” form: the thinnest portion (the first notch at the top of the turning) is 1-5/16” thick and the thickest portion (the face & base) is 3” thick. This is an overall variation of 1-11/16” – the largest variance of the ins and outs of all the Turned Newel Posts offered by Stair Parts Depot. It has a square base which can be either 16” or 24” long depending on if the post is 48” or 56” in length. It comes in three forms: Ball Top, Pin Top, or Tapered-Top (mid-span post). The face of the Classic Newel Post (Ball Top) can be 7” or 13”  on your stairway needs. The 4956 has a 10″ face while the 4955 has a 5″ face; both are Ball Tops. The turning is 23” long, and the base can be either 14” or 22” depending on if the the post is turned with a 48” or 56” blank. The Pin-Top and Taper-Top Classic Newels have a 24” turning with a 24” or 32” base depending on if the overall size of the post is 48” or 56” long. The turning of the Classic Newel starts with a deeply-cut notch (1-5/16” thick). Right below the notch, it tapers slightly inwards for 3.5 inches, tapers outwards for 6.5 inches, and then back inwards for 4.25 inches. It then forms a notch that is 1-9/16” thick, which is a quarter inch thicker than the notch at the top. The last portion of the turning design is 6.75 inches long, and rests on top of the base. The length of the base ranges from 14″ to 24″ depending on which Classic Newel Post. You can match any set of balusters with the Classic Newel Post, but the set of balusters that match the best (in terms of also being a Classic Style) are the 5908 and 5909.

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Hampton:
Hampton Newels are the 3500, 3503, 3505, 3513, 4270, 4272, 4500, 4503, 4504, and the 4505. Hampton Newels have a strong, robust look to them. The turning design is a double ring enclosing a single notch style. There are three notches on the post – one on top of the turning and two at the bottom of the turning. Regarding the standard 3” form: all three notches are identical (2-3/16” thick). The thinnest part of the post is 2-1/16” (the first part of the turning) and the thickest part of the post is 3” (the face and the base). This is an overall variation of almost a full inch: 15/16”. The ins and outs of the Hampton turning design do not fluctuate as much as other styles of Newels. Hampton Newels are produced in both 3 and 3.5 inches. The 3500, 3503, 3505, and 3513 are 3” posts, while the 4270, 4271, 4275, 4503, and 4505 are 3.5” posts. The face, turning, and base become slightly thicker when the Newel is turned with a 3.5” blank post. The first section of the turning is a notch enclosed in two rings. The notch is 2-3/16” in diameter for the 3″ posts. The turning then tapers outwards for 6 inches, and back inwards for 1.75 inches. The last section of the turning is a duplication of the initial section (two notches enclosed in four rings). This part is 4.75 inches long. The entire 16” turning design sits on top of the base, which ranges from 15 to 26 inches, depending on the particular Hampton Newel. The 3500 Ball Top has a 7” face, 16” turning, and 21” base. This post can be produced in both 48” and 59” long. Only the base is extended when the Newel is produced in 59” long In both the 48″ and 56″ form, the face and the turning remain the same (only the base is extended). The 3500 Pin Top has a longer 27” turning, and a shorter 15” base, which extends to 26” if the post is made in the 59” form. You can match any set of balusters with the Hampton Newel Post, but the collection of balusters that match the best (in terms of also being  Hampton style) are the 5200, 5205, 5300, the 5005.

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Sheraton:
Sheraton Newel posts include the 3030F, 3045F, 3030, 3042, 3045, 3030T, 3045T, 3010, 3010T, and 3015T. Sheraton Newel posts are 3.5” thick. The thinnest part of the Sheraton Newel is the notch below the top of the post (1-11/16” thick), and the thickest part is the face and the base, sized at 3.5” – an overall variation of 1-13/16”. Sheraton Newels are produced in four lengths: 43″, 48″, 56″, and 60″. The turning design of Sheraton Newel starts below the 5” face with a sharp inward taper for half an inch, and then a slow, gradual outward taper for 14.5 inches. Post-to-Post Sheraton Newels have either a 5 or 10 inch face, 18 or 24 inch turning, and 15 or 23 inch base. Over-the-Post Sheraton Newels have a 27” turning and a 15”, 20”, or 32” base; they are produced in 43”, 48”, and 60”. The base of the post is extended when produced in longer lengths; the face and turning remain the same. You can match any set of balusters with the Sheraton Newel Posts, but the ones that match best (in terms of have the same Sheraton style) are the 2015 and 2015F.

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Contemporary:
Contemporary Newels are the 4001, 4003, and 4006. Contemporary Newels have a square design which is great for home owners who want a simple look to their staircase. The square-style of Contemporary Newels set a simple, calm tone to a home. Primed and painted square posts matched up with primed and painted square balusters are a simple combination, but provide a great deal of aesthetic value to a Contemporary staircase. Contemporary Newels are blank posts; they have no intricate shape or deep cuts like other Newels. The square base of Contemporary Newels is encompassed by most or all of the post. Some Contemporary Newels have a Ball Top and others have a Flat Top. Some stair builders and contractors prefer routing the edges of a Contemporary Post so that the edges are not so sharp, and are easier to hold and handle for users of the staircase. Contemporary Newels are smaller than Box Newels. Contemporary Newels are mostly used for Post-to-Post systems. Stair Parts Depot supplies Contemporary Newels in 3” and 3-1/2” square base, being 48” or 59” tall. The set of balusters that match well with Contemporary Newels are the 5060 and 5360 (squares).

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Box Newels:
Box Newels offered by Stair Parts Depot are the 4075, 4076, 4077, 4078, 4092, 4093, and 4094. All Box Newels offered by Stair Parts Depot are made of solid wood and carry a craftsman style design. Box Newels differ from turned Newels because instead of being turned, they are cut with straight blades, carrying square designs with rectangular panels, faces, and moldings. Unlike Contemporary newels, where the face of the post extends all the way to the base, Box Newels have a face, body, and base – each with different designs. The base of a Box Newel is larger than its face and body, increasing load support for the staircase – as well as its aesthetics. Box Newels have square bases ranging from 3-1/2” to 6-1/2” thick, and are 58” – 60” tall. Box Newels have either a square or pyramid top. Box Newels are used for post-to-post systems. Both wood and metal balusters match great with Box Newels. The 4075 box newel has a 5” pyramid cap that is attached to a 60” tall square post sized at 3.5”. 10 inches below the pyramid top, Astragal molding is attached to the 3.5” square wood post. The 4075 post looks great if the customer prefers a simple pyramid top post and does not want the post to take up too much space on either side of the stairway. 3.5” wide posts can be used for smaller stairways and still provide sufficient room for the end user to walk up and down the stairs. Larger posts like the 5” 4092 post should not be used for smaller stairways, as they can block the end user from being able to walk up the stairway. The 4076 is a post very similar to the 4075 in that which the same 3.5” square wood block is used, but this post has a routed flat cap instead of the pyramid cap and a different type of molding. The Flat Capped 4076 post is a great addition to any Contemporary-styled staircase. The 4077 post is a Newel that is very similar to the 4075. The posts are nearly identical except the 4077 has a wider base (5” compared to the 3.5” of the 4075) and an extra set of molding. The 4078 post is a newel that is very similar to the 4076. The posts are nearly identical except the 4078 has a wider base (5” compared to the 3.5” of the 4076) and some extra molding above the 5” base. The 5” base of the 4077 and 4078 post is 25” long and is housed by cove molding. When the 4077 or 4078 post is purchased, the equivalent 4075 or 4076 post is given along with a separate box containing the 5” base sleeve and two feet of molding (enough to attach to all four sides of the post above the sleeve). The 4092 is a great post on the larger end with a solid 5” base. It’s got a 2-⅞” rectangular face engraved into the center of the post. Square panels are 12” below the 5-½” pyramid cap. There are two rectangular panels on the 4092 post: one 5.5” panel below the pyramid cap, and the other 22-¾” panel below the square molding. The 4093 is a hallow post – 6-1/4″ base with a flat top and molding attached to the top, mid-section, and bottom on top of the base. The 4094 is a 4092 post plus a 6-1/2″ sleeve and molding.

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Newel Posts: Machine-Turned and Intricately Cut


Cable Rail System

Cable Rail System

Stair Parts Depot offers the Cable Rail System in two models: Inside-to-Inside and Outside-to-Outside. These systems have specialized parts and fittings to work with level and rake handrail. Made with 316 “Marine Grade” stainless steel, the Cable Rail System is good for exterior usage:

Cable Rail System Kit

  • Contains one cable at 5 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, or 25 feet
  • Contains male and female fittings for Inside-to-Inside or Outside-to-Outside systems
  • Usable with various square posts: wood or steel (sold separately)

Wood, galvanized steel, or stainless steel Newel posts that complement the Cable Rail System:

Wood posts are for interior use only.

Pictures of galvanized and stainless steel posts with receiver fittings:

 

 


Worn Out Staircase Renewal Tips & Tricks

Worn-out Staircase Renewal Tips & Tricks

Overtime, dust and other particles can accumulate on the stairs of your home. This article provides some tips on how to refresh a worn-out staircase.

Dusting with a feather duster or lint roller can work fairly well. However, when there is more than just dust on the surface of the wood, like dirt or grime, a feather duster might not be sufficient enough. In this case, a piece of cotton cloth dipped in mild soap and water can be used to clean the surface of the wood. Do not completely soak the wood, but rather, lightly wash the surface and then dry. Some marks and blemishes can refuse to fade away even after an excellent washing. To remove these stubborn marks/stains, try using a mixture of baking soda and water instead of soap and water. Avoid damaging or scratching the wood by scrubbing overly hard.

Applying furniture oil can protect the wood by making the surface resistant to future accumulation of dust and other particles. You can purchase furniture oil and wood polishers at your local hardware store, or you could make your own oil by mixing one cup of olive oil with a fourth cup of white vinegar. Lemon oil can also work. Apply an even coating of the oil to the surface of the wood. If your staircase generally bathes in sunlight for most of the day, it may require a substantially thick coat of oil to prevent cracks and scratches long-term. The wood will slowly soak up the oil. After about 15 minutes, use a piece of clean cloth to swab off all the excess oil, applying even pressure so that the remaining coat of oil is uniform. Let the newly oiled stairway dry for a full day before touching it.

Just like with wood, dust and other particles can accumulate on metal balusters and overtime they will require cleaning to give it a fresh look. You can use a feather duster to dust off the metal balusters. Microfiber cloths work well too, as they can get inside the twists and grooves of an iron baluster. Your metal balusters may require washing as well as dusting. Wrought Iron Balusters are rust resistant, so using water will not damage them. Mix one cup of water with a fourth cup of distilled white vinegar and use this solution to wash the metal balusters. Do not use harsh industrial chemicals because these can erode the surface of the iron balusters and cause permanent damage.
Sometimes older staircases just don’t appear the same as they used to. In this situation, it might be time to remodel your staircase with completely new stair parts. Stair Parts Depot is a great place to acquire high quality stair products. Stair Parts Depot can ship your stair products to 48 continental states!


Tips on Building the Classic Wooden Staircase

The Classic Wooden Staircase

*** Please note that these are general tips for your stair remodeling project. Please check commercial, residential, and all other building code before proceeding to install yourself. If needed, please hire a licensed stair-building professional to help.***

Tips & Tricks:

If your desired handrail and baluster is made of wood, your handrail options may be limited depending on the type of the baluster; choice of baluster may affect design of the handrail.

Taper-Top Wood Balusters like the Colonial 5015 can be installed onto wood handrail such as the 6010 and 6310, and Square-Top Wood Balusters like the Colonial 5141 are compatible with plowed handrails which require fillet to be secured; strips of fillet will be placed between each baluster to secure them in place. If the baluster is square-top, then your handrail needs to be plowed at the exact width of the baluster to create the perfect amount of room for it to sit on – thus, maximizing structural load support from each baluster to the plowed handrail and resulting in the perfectly built staircase.

Step size is an important factor to consider when purchasing the treads and risers for your staircase. Stair Parts Depot supplies treads that are 11-1/2″ wide: Qwiktreads, Plain Treads, and Redi Treads.

Not all visually appealing handrails may be allowed to be installed onto your staircase. Please make sure your handrail’s size is compliant with your local, state, and federal building code. Handrail height is also an important variable to consider (please check your residential or commercial building code for handrail size).

Check local building code for all technical specifications.

Newel Posts:

  • Count one Newel Post to start each section.
  • Count one Newel Post every time the stairway section joins a landing.
  • Count one Newel Post every time the stairway changes direction (excluding bending railings or spiral stairways).
  • Ball-Top Newels are for Starting Posts and Landing Posts.
  • Pin-Top and Taper-Top Newels are used for continuous sections of handrail (some cities and states allow Ball-Top and Box Newels when going up the stairs for a post to post system).
  • One Newel should be used at least every 8 feet of handrail. If handrail is over 8 feet long, one intermediate post is required in the middle of the handrail section. For example, if handrail section is 12 feet long, an intermediate post is required at the 6 foot mark.

Balusters:

  • Check local building code for all technical specifications.
  • Baluster spacing is generally 4 inches apart
  • 4” sphere cannot pass through the balustrade.
  • Shoes for bottom and/or top of metal balusters.
  • Shoe size matches baluster width.

Handrail & Shoe Rail:

  • Check local building codes for handrail height and sizing specifications. Some handrail models are too wide – others too tall. Limitations on size of the handrail vary depending on local building code.
  • Plowed handrails and plowed shoe rails are for square-top and/or square-bottom balusters.
  • Fillet is for filling in extra space under the plowed handrail
  • Bending handrails are for spiral or curved staircases.
  • Handrails terminating into a wall should be drilled into the wall stud (wooden plank of the building’s framework) to maximize stability. A stud finder device is used to locate wall studs behind dry wall.
  • Handrails can return into a half Newel or a Rosette, which should be attached to a wall stud.
  • If the stairway is less than 5 feet wide, only one side requires handrail (handrail on both sides is optional).
  • If the stairway is over 5 feet wide, handrail on both sides is required
  • Handrails should be continuous so that someone going up the stairs never has to let go of the handrail (this is required in some places – check local building code).

Treads/Risers:

  • Check local building code for minimum width of treads and maximum height of risers.
  • Each tread and riser must be identical height and width going up the stairs.

Accessories:

  • Check local building code for all technical specifications.
  • One rail bolt or lag bolt per handrail end.
  • One bolt wrench or any fastening tool.
  • Wall rail brackets at a minimum of every 4 feet of handrail (excluding either ends of the handrail, which may or may not return into the wall depending on local building code).
  • One Newel bolt per solid Newel Post (more than one is okay but not required), or one Newel Plate per hallow Newel Post.
  • One Wood plug to cover each hole drilled.
  • Optional epoxy to secure metal balusters.
  • Optional shoes for metal balusters.

Metal Balusters

Metal Balusters – Blog

Metal Balusters – Shop

Stair Parts Depot offers Metal Balusters in Black or Oil Rubbed Copper. MB101 – MB107 are all 1/2″ thick, being of hallow metal alloy – extremely strong and durable. Our 5/8″ thick Metal Balusters are the MB114 and MB115 – these are hammered. Our Metal Balusters are the perfect addition to your stairway’s balustrade.

Stair Parts Depot Metal Balusters complement our Box Newels and Turned Newels.

Stair Parts Depot offers Metal Balusters in various designs and shapes:

Plain Bar (MB101):

 

Single Knuckle (MB102):

Double Knuckle (MB103):

Single Twist (MB104):

 

Double Twist (MB105):

Single Basket (MB106):

Double Basket (MB107):

Double Spoon (MB114):

Quadruple Spoon (MB115):

Popular Combinations:

  • Single Basket (MB106) with Double Twist (MB105)
  • Double Basket (MB107) with  Single Twist (MB104)
  • Plain Bar (MB101) with Single Knuckle (MB102) and Double Knuckle (MB103)

For more assistance on visualizing how metal balusters fit into your staircase, please use the stair artist tool.

 


Modern stairways and stairwells:


Wood Species Details/Information

Wood Species Details/Information

Red Oak – Red Oak (Quercus rubra) is the most widely used wood species for interior applications in North America. It is composed of red and light burgundy overtones with a slight hint of pink. Red Oak products can be stained and clear-coated to achieve a golden bronze finish. It is a particularly grainy type of wood with moderately coarse texture. Grain variation is moderately tight and has dark brown strides that are enclosed by small, jagged ridges. Red Oak is not meant to be painted; its pores will absorb water-based paints like a sponge. Whether it’s a small house or large commercial building, chances are that there are some Red Oak building blocks in the structure’s make. Red Oak is primarily harvested from eastern and central United States and southeast Canada.

Red Oak


White Oak – White Oak (Quercus alba) is a light to medium olive-tan colored wood. White Oak’s grain is ivory-colored and points in one direction (polarized), and has a moderately coarse texture. White Oak is mostly manufactured and harvested from eastern and southern United States. White Oak has tyloses, a microscopic characteristic that gives the wood closed cellular structure – making it semi-resistant to water. With the proper exterior wood stain, clear-coat, and wood sealant, White Oak can be used in exterior applications. White Oak is a very popular type of lumber, used in high-end products – frequently used for flooring and stairways.


Alder – Alder (Alnus rubra) is a light tan and slightly reddish amber wood that contains light-brown strides from the tree’s growth rings. When initially harvested, Alder has a white-almond flesh and then it gradually turns into a yellowish honey color over prolonged exposure to sunlight. Alder’s soft, wavy grain tends to be somewhat openly spaced out in most cuts of the wood. Unlike most other wood species where the heartwood is stronger, denser, and darker than sapwood, Alder’s heartwood and sapwood are almost identical. Almost no wood is wasted from one tree, making Alder an increasingly popular species of wood among lumber mills and the woodworking industry. Alder, like Maple, is ideal for goods and products whose purpose is to showcase a homogeneous color consistency. With a Janka hardness of 590 lbf (pounds force), Alder may is one of the softer woods, similar to the density of Poplar (paint-grade wood). Alder is strong enough to be safely used for stair handrails and balusters.

Alder


American Cherry – American Cherry (Prunus serotina) is a light-red wood with wavy strides of orange and brown. Whole heartwood cuts of American Cherry exhibit a pinkish sienna color, while outer sapwood is more of a peachy yellow color. Engineered products of American Cherry wood (adjoined cuts) can portray contrasting shades of colors ranging from creamy bisque to dark red. Its wavy grain has a smooth texture and showcases colors of a reddish-auburn mix. American Cherry has an undulating grain pattern and like all other woods, sometimes contains sporadic gum pockets and knots. American Cherry has a density of 950 lbs (pounds force), making it a very tough hardwood. American Cherry is one of the most popular woods for the woodworking industry – great for mills, machining, and manufacturing, and very popular among the staircase industry.

Cherry


Brazilian Cherry – Brazilian Cherry (Hymenaea courbaril) is a dark magenta/burgundy hardwood with hues of red and orange along its light almond grain. Its jagged grain contains a surplus of polarized white stripes which showcase contrasting colors on top of the existing dark burgundy shade of the wood. Brazilian Cherry is mostly harvested from Central America and South America. With a Janka hardness of 2690 lbf (pounds force), Brazilian Cherry is one of the strongest, densest woods on Earth. Brazilian Cherry will turn darker when exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Be careful when machining Brazilian Cherry – its sawdust can cause irritation to the eyes and skin. Depending on where it is being sold, Brazilian Cherry can also be called “Jatoba”. Brazilian Cherry is one of the most popular darker-colored hardwoods offered by Stair Parts Depot.

Brazilian Cherry


Poplar – Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is composed of white, yellow, and tan overtones, with a minuscule hint of olive green. The hints of green transform to a light brown with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Some people like to showcase the unique color of Poplar wood products by using stain and clear-coat, but most utilize Poplar for its anti-absorption properties – allows water-based paints to dry and bond on its surface (paint-grade). Poplar is great for anything that requires painting, such as stair balusters, posts, handrails, veneer, panels, pulpwood, pallets, crates, furniture frames, plywood, home construction timber, etc. Poplar can also be called Yellow Poplar or Tulip Wood.


Maple – Maple (Acer saccharum) is a mix of creamy white, yellow, and beige overtones decorated by patterns of light brown strides from the tree’s annual growth rings. Unlike most other woods, Maple is utilized for its sapwood rather than its heartwood. If you’re looking for something that is very color constant, Maple is a terrific choice. Maple can be used for both staining and painting – just like Poplar, Alder, Cherry, and Hickory. Maple is sold in two different forms: Soft Maple and Hard Maple. Soft Maple refers to a collection of different species (Acer macrophyllum, Acer negundo, Acer rubrum, Acer saccharinum, Acer pensylvanicum). Soft Maple can be anywhere from 700 lbf to 900 lbf on the Janka Hardness scale, which is strong enough for a variety of indoor applications. Hard Maple has a Janka hardness of 1450 lbf (pounds force). Baseball bats in the Major Leagues can be made out of a mix of Hard Maple, Hickory, White Ash, and Bamboo. Depending on where it’s sold, Soft Maple can be called Bigleaf Maple, Red Maple, Box Elder, Swamp Maple, Silver Maple, Striped Maple, or Water Maple. Hard Maple can be called Sugar Maple, Black Maple, or Rock Maple. Maple and Alder are the most consistent woods in terms of color and grain variation.


European Beech – European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a pinkish salmon-colored wood with tones of white and orange. European Beech’s grain is jagged and tends to be polarized in the same direction depending on how the wood is machined and produced. Its texture feels medium to moderately rough before finish. European Beech has a Janka hardness of 1450 lbf (pounds force), making it a strong, shock resistant hardwood. Despite its toughness, Beech can still be bent using steam bending. The majority of European Beech lumber originates from forests in Germany and Ukraine. Despite being an exotic imported species of wood, Stair Parts Depot can supply European Beech at excellent prices.

European Beech


Hickory – Hickory (Carya tomentosa) is a light tan, beige wood with yellow-white wavy streak. Heartwood cuts of Hickory tend to be a variety of colors ranging from yellow to brownish grey; its sapwood on the other hand ranges from a creamy white to light beige. When pieces of heartwood and sapwood are adjoined together, it creates a rustic feel. Hickory is mostly harvested and manufactured in Southern and Eastern United States. Hickory has a Janka hardness of 1880 lbf (pounds force), making it one of the densest, toughest, and most shock resistant wood harvested in the United States. The combination of hardness, rigidity, and stiffness is unmatched by any other North American commercial lumber. Despite being an incredibly tough wood, Hickory still performs well under steam-bending, a woodworking technique used to bend the shape of a slice of wood. Hickory Smoked food refers to meats that are cooked in an enclosed chamber of a barbecue filled with Hickory logs. The burning wood gives the food a distinct Hickory flavor, which is very popular among some meat lovers. Depending on regional jargon, Hickory can also be called Mockernut Hickory, Whiteheart Hickory, Hognut, and Bullnut.


Walnut – Walnut (Juglans nigra) is a chocolate-colored wood ranging from light brown to dark burgundy. It is primarily harvested from eastern United States. Its grain is straight and tightly spaced together and its texture is moderately coarse. Walnut that’s flat-sawn cut showcases a pattern of wavy streaks originating from the tree’s growth rings. If it is quarter-sawn cut, the streaks are straight and uniformed, portraying alternating stripes of light and dark brown. Walnut’s Janka hardness is 1010 lbf (pounds force), making it a very sturdy wood.

Walnut


African Mahagony – African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) is a reddish-brown wood with long, russet, polarized granules. It has lightly concentrated, semi-large pores, thus making this wood non-paintable. With a Janka hardness of 1070 lbf (pounds force), African Mahagony is a tough hardwood. African Mahogany originates from Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin, and other tropical countries of Western Africa. Despite being an exotic imported lumber, Stair Parts Depot can supply African Mahogany at excellent prices. African Mahogany can also be called Benin Mahogany, Dry Zone Mahogany, and Senegal Mahogany.

African Mahagony



Wood Species: Traits and Characteristics

Wood Species Traits & Characteristics

Stair Parts Depot offers over 10 different species of wood: Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, European Beech, Poplar, Alder, African Mahogany, American Cherry, Brazilian Cherry, Walnut, and Hickory. When selecting the ideal species for your stairs, consider the characteristics of the wood, such as color, grain, density, and the feeling of the wood. Certain wood species such as Walnut and Brazilian Cherry have darker shades of color. Other woods are lighter in color, such as Maple and Alder.

The heartwood of the tree is the inner sections; the sapwood is the outer sections. The inner rings of a tree trunk are denser than the outer rings, which give the inner rings a darker color than the outer rings. You can see in the picture below that the inner rings of this tree truck (heartwood) are darker than the outer rings (sapwood):

wood species selection process

Not all cuts of wood are perfect. Wood used to be a living organism, and we are not all identical. Wood can contain blemishes such as knots or gum pockets. These dark spots are naturally formed from things like ingrown bark and areas where the branches grew. They can also be formed from environmental changes from when the tree was growing, which is evident in the tree’s annual growth rings. These spots can stand out in the flesh of the wood and are a natural growth mark from the tree from before it was harvested.

Each piece of wood has a mixture of colors, and no two pieces are identical. For example: Poplar, the best wood for painting, tends to have color variations of white, yellow, and green.  See picture of Poplar below:

Poplar

The type of paint used for the wood is critical. Some paints are better for cold weather, and some paints are better for hot weather. Before purchasing, you should know your weather conditions to find the perfect paint for your paint-grade wood (Poplar).

Color variation is inevitable. To a certain degree, all wood species have these variations of color – which can be beautiful to one person, but unappealing to another. It all depends on the individual person and what he/she prefers in terms of style, color, and grain variations for their stairs and treads.

In order to further analyze your ideal wood species, consider how much grain variation you’d like to see and feel in your stairs. When painting over the wood, grain variation can make a big difference in how smooth the wood feels. The most common paint grade wood is Poplar – although, Maple, Alder, and Hickory can also be painted. Some wood species like Red Oak and White Oak, which have very open grains, are not meant for painting, as they will absorb all the paint like a sponge. Stair Parts Depot does not recommend painting Oak.

If you are looking for a wood species that shows little or no color/grain variations, Beech, Alder, and Maple are terrific choices. These wood species, after harvesting, show homogeneity amongst piece by piece.

In the picture below, you can see how color constant a Maple stairway is:

Maple

No two pieces of wood, even if they’re from the same tree, are identical. Because each piece of wood is completely unique, Stair Parts Depot cannot guarantee perfect stain matching. You can relate wood to fingerprints – no two humans have the same prints. Each piece of wood is different from the next.

Keep in mind that most wood products are jointed together from multiple cuts of wood. Treads, for example, are usually jointed together from slender pieces of wood so that the finished tread does not bend or warp from the constant wear and tear of climbing the stairs everyday and from unpredictable weather conditions. Wood species used in home and building construction are jointed together in order to maximize structural integrity.

Red Oak:

Red Oak

White Oak:

Alder:

Alder

American Cherry:

Cherry

Brazilian Cherry:

Brazilian Cherry

Poplar:

Maple:

European Beech:

European Beech

Hickory:

Walnut:

Walnut

African Mahogany:

African Mahagony


Stairway Installation Tips & General Advice

*** Please note that these instructions are here just to give a general idea. These instructions are not “one size fits all” – each and every stairway project is unique. Check building code for all technical specifications***
 
 
Newel Posts:
  • Check building code to see where Newel Posts are required
  • Check building code for what types of Newels are required (Ball Top or Pin Top, how tall the post should be (43″ – 59″), how long the face of the post is (5″ – 13″)
  • Count one intermediate/mid-span Newel Post for handrail over 8 feet long. For example, if handrail section is 12 feet long, an intermediate post is required at the 6 foot mark.
  • Ball-Top Newels are for Starting Posts and Landing Posts.
  • Pin-Top and Taper-Top Newels are used for continuous sections of handrail (some cities and states allow Ball-Top and Box Newels when going up the stairs for a post to post system).

Balusters:

  • Check local building code for all baluster spacing specifications.
  • One baluster every 4” of the balustrade.
  • 4” sphere cannot pass through the balustrade.
  • Shoes for bottom and/or top of metal balusters.
  • Shoe size matches baluster width.

Handrail & Shoe Rail:

  • Check local building codes for handrail height and sizing specifications. Some handrail models are too wide – others too tall. Limitations on size of the handrail vary depending on local building code.
  • Plowed handrails and plowed shoe rails are for square-top and/or square-bottom balusters.
  • Fillet is for filling in extra space under the plowed handrail
  • Bending handrails are for spiral or curved staircases.
  • Handrails terminating into a wall should be drilled into the wall stud (wooden plank of the building’s framework) to maximize stability. A stud finder device is used to locate wall studs behind dry wall.
  • Handrails can return into a half Newel or a Rosette, which should be attached to a wall stud.
  • If the stairway is less than 5 feet wide, only one side requires handrail (handrail on both sides is optional).
  • If the stairway is over 5 feet wide, handrail on both sides is required
  • Handrails should be continuous so that someone going up the stairs never has to let go of the handrail (this is required in some places – check local building code).

Treads/Risers:

  • Check local building code for minimum width of treads and maximum height of risers.
  • Each tread and riser must be identical height and width going up the stairs.

Accessories:

  • Check local building code for all technical specifications.
  • One rail bolt or lag bolt per handrail end.
  • One bolt wrench or any fastening tool.
  • Wall rail brackets at a minimum of every 4 feet of handrail (excluding either ends of the handrail, which may or may not return into the wall depending on local building code).
  • One Newel bolt per solid Newel Post (more than one is okay but not required), or one Newel Plate per hallow Newel Post.
  • One Wood plug to cover each hole drilled.
  • Optional epoxy to secure metal balusters.
  • Optional shoes for metal balusters.
Post-Post
Notice in the image above that the 1” reveal (space for fingers) is maintained by the handrail in both Stairway-to-Stairway and Stairway-to-Balcony layouts. Some cities & states require continuous handrail while going up the stairs, which would require  Pin-Top Newels instead of Ball-Top Newels used for Post-to-Post systems. Check local building code for all technical specifications. layout

Installation techniques differ based on the type of stairway. Check local building code for all technical specifications.