Wrought iron, also known as ornamental iron, is a metal with low carbon content that enables the iron to be strong and malleable. This type of iron can be forged and welded to create durable and visually pleasing stairway railings. Wrought iron railings can be assembled piece by piece, which is usually the case for a wood and iron combination, or iron panels can be installed.
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Balusters are the vertical posts that extend the length of the stair railing system. Baluster designs range from square, twisted, scroll to custom ornamented. Iron balusters are attached at the bottom with aluminium boots. The boots are secured to a stair or balcony edge with screws. Balusters fit loosely in the boot until tightened with a hex key. There is usually two balusters per stair, and there should not be more than four inches between balusters so small children cannot fall through the openings. Balusters may also be referred to as spindles or pickets.
Newel posts are the structural support posts at the top and bottom of a set of stairs. When using wrought iron components, the newel posts can be wood or iron depending on style preference. For iron newel posts, you will need a mounting kit that consists of a base with bolts, a hex key and a decorative cap. Newel posts are thicker and stronger than balusters.
Panels are an alternative to installing individual balusters. Ornamental wrought iron panels are usually custom made for your particular project. Panels are detailed designs and need to be made according to an individual’s staircase length and degree of rise in the staircase. Most prefabricated panels come welded to a shoe rail and can be capped with an iron or wooden hand rail.
The handrail, sometimes called a cap rail, can be iron or wood. With a wrought iron hand rail, the tops of the balusters and newel posts are welded to the underside of the handrail. When choosing a wooden handrail, the balusters can be attached to the underside of the handrail with shoes that match those on the bottom. Another option would be to weld a flat iron rail to the tops of the balusters, then attach that rail to the underside of the wooden handrail with screws.
A shoe rail is an alternative to individual baluster shoes. The bottoms of the balusters can be welded to a rail that runs along the bottom of the balusters up to the newel posts. When using a shoe rail, the newel posts would still be securely anchored to the floor.
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