5 Things to Consider When Replacing Balusters


Production home builders are not known for putting a ton of money into staircases. Being budget conscious, they make production staircases functional first and foremost. Often times that means oak or pine spindles supporting a wooden handrail. The spindles, also known as balusters, can look worn and old overtime. Replacing them with new spindles is an easy way to spruce up a balustrade.

Wrought iron spindles are a popular choice these days, according to The Iron Spindle in Atlanta, Georgia. As contractors with more than 17 years’ experience, The Iron Spindle routinely replaces old oak spindles with wrought iron.

Your decision to replace balusters is one you haven’t taken lightly. But before you decide exactly what you want to do, consider these five things:

1. Overall Staircase Safety

Safety should be the first concern of any home renovation project. With your staircase, consider that the number of balusters and the spacing between them is a matter of safety. Building codes require balusters to be set close enough together to prevent accidental falls.

This is something to consider because you obviously have to ensure that your staircase remains code compliant. Beyond building codes, you do not want gaps large enough for small children or pets to fall through. And of course, the balusters you choose should be robust enough to support the weight of the handrail and anyone who use it.

2. Your Aesthetic Preferences

It is not uncommon for homeowners to focus entirely on aesthetics when replacing balusters. Though such tunnel vision is not wise, aesthetics are still important to the degree that finished staircases usually set the tone for the rest of the house. Remember that a staircase tends to be the single largest architectural element in a house.

You might want a specific look, but does that look match the rest of the house? And if not, are you willing to have your staircase stand out as unique? Many people are. Others are not, and they only discover too late that the new balustrade just doesn’t fit.

3. Potential Installation Problems

Another thing to consider are the potential installation problems that might arise after work begins. For example, your contractor might uncover some structural deficiencies after removing a few of the older balusters. Serious underlying problems could lead to cost overruns. You always have to be prepared for that sort of thing.

4. Replacing the Handrail

Some spindle replacement jobs wind up revealing that the handrail is in poor shape. On other jobs, the handrail is still fine, but the homeowner decides it doesn’t look good with the new spindles. The end result in both scenarios is the added time and expense of replacing the handrail altogether.

It might be wise to consider the cost of replacing the handrail from the very start. Not that you will automatically do it, but just so that you know what it will cost if you decide to replace after the work starts. Again, just be prepared.

5. Working Within Your Budget

With the exception of addressing structural issues, all of the concerns raised in this post are really budgetary concerns. You only have so much to spend on spindle replacement. Know what that amount is and commit to not exceeding it.

The wonderful thing about iron spindles is that they are very cost-effective. You can get a lot for a little when you replace wooden spindles with iron. Of course, you can also spend a lot if you can afford to do so. Wrought iron spindles run the gamut from very affordable to deliciously expensive.

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