Stair railing alternatives

stairwell image by Larry Roberg from

If your old stair rail is falling apart or you just don't like the look of it, a more unusual alternative may be just what you're seeking. Although basic wooden and metal stair rails are common, the railings market offers a number of other options, and if you can't find what you want, chances are you can find someone who will make it. Consider these options.


If your staircase leads up to a child's room or you love the nautical or jungle theme, think about replacing that standard stair rail with a length of rope. Rope is available in cotton, hemp, polyester and nylon, and can be purchased in a variety of colours from red to blue to white. Although thinner than most balusters or railings, rope railings can be made of thick rope. Special fittings are required to attach the rope to the wall.

Natural Materials

If you love the rustic look or are trying for a more natural feel to your home, bring natural materials indoors to create your staircase railing. Old branches or thicker dried vines can be used together or separately to create an artistic staircase with outdoor roots. Just remember that before you bring wood inside your house, have it checked for termites and other nasty critters to avoid any possible problems later.

Reclaimed Lumber

Add a touch of history to your home and help the environment by using reclaimed lumber in place of a new stair rail. Reclaimed lumber is wood that's already been used in houses, barns or other buildings. Once it's pulled out of the old house, it's then made available to homeowners for reuse. A number of lumber companies, home improvement stores and independent retailers feature reclaimed lumber, but when picking a company for your project, choose one that kiln-dries the wood. Kiln-drying will keep the wood from warping later and will eliminate possible infestations.


When you think of a metal stair rail, you probably think of the standard pipe type that's often in industrial buildings. Metal, however, can be used to form some of the most decorative railings and balustrades. Check your local home improvement store or stair rail retailer to see the more unique versions, or hire a metalworks or ironworks to create a unique, decorative hand rail.

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