Interior Stair Railing Designs

Interior Stair Railing Designs

Your staircases design is often the first thing visitors see when entering your home, and like it or not, it is a focal point.

What’s the secret to great stair railing designs? Well first, it should open up the space, not over power it, and feel like it belongs with the room interior design.

If you already have wrought iron or wood stair railings and just want ideas for painting staircases, then please check out my stair railing ideas page, where I talk about different paint techniques that can be applied to turn ordinary into something quite extraordinary.

We’re going to take a look at several different stair railing designs, including: wood, wrought iron, and metal stair railings, plus lots of photos and ideas for updating them. And, you don’t want to miss the important safety tips at the end of this page.

If done well, it can increase the value of your home, and your enjoyment of it. Whether you like sleek and modern, traditional, or rustic, there are many ways to update your staircases design to better reflect your style, and your home’s personality.

Modern home staircases designed today tend to be very sleek and straightforward, with clean lines and a masculine feel.

Staircase railing designs with clear glass sides, cables or horizontal tubing are hot right now, but they all share one thing in common. With the exception of spiral staircases, most of the focus is on horizontal lines which elongate and designs that are more “see” through which enlarge the visual space and add more depth.

Many stair railing designs from the 1970’s & 80’s that looked modern then, appear dated now. The most common one had closed in sheet rock half walls with a wood cap on top, making the space feel smaller, almost boxy.

Replacing that half wall with see through stair railing designs, (as in this photo, right) be it wood, metal or glass, can greatly increase the visual space in the room, making it appear much larger.

Here’s an example of floating staircases designed with wood and aluminum. See how it opens up the space?

Staircases Designed To Impress

Our old wooden fence and gates were warped and rotted when we got this place and after we replaced the fence, it was time to start looking for two new gates. It was a rude awakening because I had no idea they cost so much!

32 inch wide wooden fence gate with keyless entry door hardware
We could have had the fence guys make us a simple gate, but for fence planks nailed to 2″ x 4″s, the price tag didn’t seem worth it. I had to do a lot of shopping around to find what I wanted, at a fabulously frugal price.

I scoured architectural salvage shops and builders surplus stores for wooden fence gates or old exterior doors. None were quite the right size, nor could I find two that matched each other ~ and the style of the house.

This photo shows the back view of my 32″ wooden fence gate in western red cedar, that was stained with TWP (also in cedar) and sealed with marine varnish. The photo below show the front view one year later with an arched arbor framing it that’s covered in passiflora vines.

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Choices In Stair Railing Designs

Aluminum Stair Railing  One of the best reasons to go with aluminum stair railings outdoors is the anti rust factor, especially in coastal areas where heavy morning fog combined with sea salts can wreak havoc on metal stair railings. It’s even more important when painting staircases would be down right dangerous. Because of it’s strength and light weight, aluminum is also a great choice for indoor stair railing designs. Note: Because aluminum doesn’t take paint well, it should be pretreated and powder coated, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to paint it yourself.

Metal Stair Railing  including wrought iron and steel spiral staircases, would need a lot of upkeep outdoors, but indoors they can be maintenance free. Add faux rust or achieve the look of antique brass with a golden base coat and a hand rubbed glaze on top. Generic wood balusters can be replaced with decorative wrought iron,and because they tend to be thinner, it adds more visual depth, plus an old world charm.

Wrought Iron Stair railings – Old world styles can range from very ornate and romantic with lots of swirls, to vertical balusters with decorative bird cages, or rustic with simple twists in the iron.

Wood Stair Railing and Antique Staircases – Simple DIY paint ideas can turn boring staircase designs into something quite fabulous. New wood stair railings can be made to look old by layering two different paint colors and partially sanding off the top coat, then adding a glaze tinted the color of dirt, that gets applied and then rubbed off.

Spiral Staircases – More decorative than functional, they’re often used in library’s and master bedrooms to reach loft space, or as another means to access second story decks. Wood or metal, spiral staircase kits are available in various sizes. A word of caution: most building codes don’t allow spiral staircases to be the homes main egress, and some sellers of kits state all sales are final.

Safety and Maintenance Of Stair Railing Designs

Make sure your stair railing designs are compliant with local and state building codes, for safety and insurance purposes, and also when selling your home.

Ever trip going down the steps and grab onto the stair railing to help stop your fall? Home owners that remove hand railings from staircase designs for cosmetic reasons (as in situations where there’s a wall on both sides of the stairs) can get in big trouble with their insurance companies should someone get injured on their property.


Regularly check your stair railings, and get them fixed at the first sign of trouble. You may need to tighten bolts, maybe even re-attach sections if the bolts are not anchored safely, repair loose balusters, and shoe rails.

The shoe rail is the bottom piece of wood that the balusters are attached to, as it spans a second story balcony.

After buying a house, we noticed the railing was quite giggly on the longest span, (which was quite scary) and were told it was due to the shoe rail being loose.

The fix including sinking several large bolts and many long wood screws into the shoe rail to better attach it to the house’s framing.

You may want think twice before decorating a second story hallway with furniture – that is unless you’re using it as a speed bump to slow your kids down – OUCH! By placing tables and wall decor that sticks out into a narrow pathway, you’re forcing people closer to the railings.

Another item that can drive you crazy is balusters that become loose, causing rattling, or ones that twist when kids play with them. Wood balusters can be tacked with small nails, and metal ones can be secured with a dab of clear construction adhesive (from a caulk gun) at the base, to stop rattling.

I hope you enjoyed our stair railing designs but don’t forget to visit the companion page for more interior railing ideas and great articles in the links below. Come back soon and please share us with your friends!

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