The steps in the front of houses can be dangerous, especially when there is snow, ice or rain falling. One of the best ways to protect guests and residents alike is to add a railing to the steps so there is something to hold onto while going up and down the stairs. There are several different options you can pursue when adding a railing to your home.
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Wood is one of the most traditional materials for front-step railings. Home improvement stores sell pre-made wood railings, or you can create your own using lumber and tools. Wood can be painted any colour to match your home and designs can be cut into the railings if you want to add decorations. On the downside, wood can be high-maintenance. You will need to paint and seal it every two to three years, depending on the wear, and it will also need regular cleaning.
Aluminium railings are available, pre-made, at most home improvement stores. The material comes in a variety of colours and is the least expensive metal railing available. Aluminium railings can be painted with special paint, but they will need to be touched up on a yearly basis. Aluminium can rust after being exposed to the elements -- especially the salt that you use to thaw ice -- so you want to try and find an aluminium railing that is galvanised to avoid this potential pitfall.
Iron railings are another traditional material for front-step railings. The material is the longest-lasting of most railing options, but is also the most expensive. Iron railings come in a variety of colours and styles and require little upkeep. Traditionally, iron railings were placed directly in wet concrete when the front steps were poured, but they can also be installed using iron bases. When purchasing an iron railing, you should look for one that is galvanised and also has a baked-on powder-coated finish for durability.
Vinyl front-stair railings are the most common ones in modern buildings. The material is relatively maintenance-free and also one of the most economical choices. Vinyl railings are available in white and off-white colours at most home improvement stores. The material can be painted and, with proper care, the paint should last for several years before needing to be touched up. Look for vinyl railings that come with at least a five-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Railings made of several different materials are also available pre-made at most home improvement stores. The railings can be made of metal and vinyl or metal and wood. Usually, the top and bottom of the railing will be vinyl or wood and the centre posts will be iron or aluminium. Prices on composite railings normally run higher than other options, but they can give your home a customised look and, depending on the material choices, they can be easy to care for.
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