Wood Stair Railings
Wood Railings for Residential Interior Use

Wood Stair Railings are probably the most common in use for residential applications. My guess is because most of us are alot more comfortable using a chop saw then a welding torch :) ... I know that I certain feel that way!

Wood Stair Railings are typically made up of three things:

  1. a wood handrail that your hand runs along
  2. wood balusters (or in some cases wrought iron spindles or glass panels), that close off the space below the handrail
  3. Newel Posts, wood or metal

Each element serves a specific purpose whether metal or wood. Stair Railings are designed to prevent anyone from tripping down the stairs... thus

  • the wood newel post must be securely anchored to hold the entire structure in place, it is the KEY to "no-wobble" railings.

  • the wood balusters must be installed close enough to prevent even the smallest child from climbing through and secured in such a way that with sideways leverage they can't be dislodged from the handrail or shoe rail at the bottom. Building code requirements are VERY specific about spacing, size and strength.

  • wood handrailingthe wood handrail is the horizontal bar that supports and guides those individuals, not so solid on their feet... or maybe the young ones that are just way too fast!

    You always have to match the handrail to the spindles being installed. Make sure the underside groove equals the size of the spindles and if using metal ask the installer if they prefer to use a grooved or flat bottom railing.

Aside from all these important pieces there are a number of other less significant mouldings that you may wish to consider

  • wood handrail bracketshandrail brackets for wall mounting a wood handrail . They can be made from either wood or metal, although I have found the metal cast brackets more likely to break and some designs can be more challenging to install. Note that new building codes are now encoraging the use of more brackets closer together and designs that hold the handrail at least 2" away from the wall , so ask.
  • wood handrail shoeShoe Rails that typically have a groove down the middle that fit the end of your wood spindle. They can be used on top of your stringer or for a horizontal run. A much better alternative then wrapping your carpet around the spindles....
  • Base Rails, an alternative to shoe Rails on horizontal runs


I encourage customers to use base rails and shoe rails for one very simple reason. Most wood stair railings are installed ONCE in your life time. Carpet, linoleum & laminate flooring are often changed after short periods of time.

Therefore if your wood handrail is tightly integrated with these more "short lived" flooring options, it gets dismantled everytime you change the flooring.

By finishing off the railing all in wood and having one clear linear merge line along the base rail or shoe rail, on any occasion that you decide to change flooring the railing stays in-tack with no impact from any flooring decisions. Ultimately this saves you money.