A staircase can reveal a lot about a house’s personal history – particularly its age. We’ve all seen those outdated oak staircases, or the staircase hemmed in by half-walls. A dated staircase can be a turn-off for a would-be homebuyer, or seem too costly a project for a homeowner. This may be why homeowners tend to overlook the staircase when doing home improvements. However, if a staircase is a prominent feature in the home it is well worth considering an update.
There are many ways to update a staircase. They can include a full staircase remodel, a tread replacement from carpet to wood, a handrail-and-post refinish, or a baluster change-out. There are plenty of options depending upon the existing condition of the staircase and the resources that can be devoted to the project.
If you are considering some home improvements, trying to get the house ready to sell, or just wanting to do something different for your home’s appearance, a baluster change-out is a great option. It is a simple, inexpensive project. And the mere action of changing out those dated spindles can be one of the most visually impactful ways to give your stairs and home a fresh new look. In many cases, this can be a do-it-yourself project if you have some skill with carpentry. If not, this would be a short project for a professional stair expert.
Now this is going to take a little research and discovery. First, you should decide whether or not to take the project on yourself. The advantages of hiring a professional would be expertise in baluster selection and helpful advice. Also, a professional is going to be a lot more efficient and able to solve problems that may arise during the installation process. If you are a dedicated DIY-er and want to tackle this project on your own, you can always ask a professional for advice if you run into problems.
Then take a look at the architecture of the home and its general style. These offer some direction to the selection of the appropriate style of baluster. Keep it simple. A timeless baluster design will not look dated when the next big trend hits.
There are many types of baluster designs and finishes to choose from. To narrow the search make sure your selection is compatible with your home’s style and architecture. The baluster design should blend in with the rest of the stair system and enhance what is already there. The Internet is a good place to find images of balusters and updated staircases.
Visit Westfire Manufacturing online at (www.westfiremfg.com), or take a field trip to the showroom at McCoy Millworks in Portland and see balusters on display (www.mccoymillwork.com). For the DIY-er there are helpful videos online outlining the installation process step-by-step, including materials you will need.
If the finish or stain on your handrail looks worn, dirty, or chipped, the time to address that is after removal of the old balusters and before the installation of the new ones. At this point of the installation process, you should do any painting or refinishing of the handrail and posts that is necessary. For a flawless finish, I would strongly advise hiring a professional painter. In some cases, however, the finish on the handrail and posts may just need a coat of urethane.
Since a staircase is one of the first things that can be seen upon entering a home, a minor or major staircase upgrade is well worth the investment. A baluster change-out can be a simple project done in a short amount of time and can be accomplished for a fraction of the cost of a full staircase remodel.
Shane Kenney is the owner of Portland Stair Company, known in Portland as “The Stair Guys.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-893-9906. Or for more information and to view their portfolio visit portlandstaircompany.com.