Ideas for stair banisters

Updated February 21, 2017

Remodelling your staircase banisters can make a visitor's opinion of your home go from ho-hum to fabulous. Often the focal point of the foyer or main hallway, the staircase is usually the first thing a guest sees when they enter your home. By simply adding a new banister, you can make your tired, old staircase look like a modern work of art.

Wooden Banisters

Available in a number of styles from simple to elaborate, wooden banisters are a staple of American design and architecture. For smaller homes, try a simple style, like the banisters found in older Craftsman homes. For larger houses with grand entryways, choose a banister to match the feel of the area, and look to movies, like "Gone with the Wind" for your inspiration. Wooden banisters can be coupled with wood, glass or wrought-iron railings to create a historic or modern mixed-medium look, depending on the style of your home. But remember, if you have wooden stairs, you'll probably want the banister colour or stain to match or complement them.

Metal Banisters

A common element of Victorian spiral staircases, metal banisters are usually thinner and smaller than wooden banisters. Because of this, even elaborate wrought-iron affairs often appear less heavy in design aesthetic than their wooden counterparts. Try a metal banister and rails on an open narrow staircase to make the staircase appear wider than it is and to maintain usable tread space. In a stark white room, a black, wrought iron banister can create a striking contrast, or a brushed-steel banister may be just the thing for your ultra-modern hallway.

Decorative Banisters

Although many banisters are simple, straightforward affairs, they don't have to be. A hand-carved wooden banister or hammered iron banister may add that bit of extra detail you were hoping to achieve, but don't overdo it. A banister that is too elaborate for the room can make a room look small and heavy, and in most cases, a hand-carved wooden banister will create too much detail for a smaller home.


If you can't afford to replace the whole banister on your wooden staircase and your rails are in decent shape, think about just replacing the post. The focal point for the staircase in many older homes, the post at the bottom of the staircase, or newel post, can often be replaced separately from the banister to create a new look. Find a post you like at your local home improvement store, sand down the banister and rails, and stain the banister, rails and new post to match for a more inexpensive, basic update.

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About the Author

Sienna Condy began writing professionally in 2001 while attending the University of Cincinnati, and she's been at it ever since. Since graduating, she's written everything from marketing materials to articles on removing stains. Today, she enjoys writing about weddings, legal issues, science, health and parenting.