Banisters: avoiding the jailhouse look

troffApril 9, 2014

Hello generous GWers,

The stairway/loft area of our condo is giving me headaches.

According to the plan, we will have railings all around the loft -- five separate sections of spindles punctuated by newel posts and a handrail -- not including the stairway itself.

We have pondered simple metal, grouped metal, oval painted wood, glass balustrades, fewer newel posts and more elbows, or any combination thereof.

Half walls (the cheapest solution) are a possibility, but I fear blocking the light the upper windows let into the downstairs.

The condo is trying to be modern -- transitional, I guess -- with lots of open space and simple mouldings. We're empty-nesters who will probably move within a few years to a condo without stairs (and in a warmer place). The rebuild is happening because of a fire.

We are at a latish state of construction now so can't do big changes. Stairs will be carpeted, loft area itself will have wood floors. Foyer chandelier will be a cylindrical dark-metal thing (I'm not sold on it, but that's another story).

Any suggestions to help the railings look open and pleasantly unobtrusive rather than jail-like? For what it's worth, builder and his design consultant think glass balustrades are "dated" and "80s." I don't really agree, but they ARE expensive...

Thanks for your help.

This post was edited by troff on Wed, Apr 9, 14 at 16:35

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Metal mesh that is almost invisible?
Narrow horizontal rails of some sort?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:02PM
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Something like this?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cables

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:31PM
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I don't think cable railings are legal where I live in Canada, unfortunately.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:03PM
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Glass is very popular around here, and very recent. But yeah, expensive, and I don't need more windows to clean, thank-you.

I also saw a lottery dream home recently that put glass in front of horizontal railings. I'm also in Canada, and lament that they won't allow horizontal railings here.

Mesh is a possibility. You'll have to find something that has openings too small for a child to put a foot in (climbing is the reason for the code restrictions), while still being airy enough.

I'm also considering acrylic panels. Haven't actually found them yet, so I don't know if they are cheaper than glass. makes coloured acrylic panels. They don't appear to ship to Canada, although the manufacturer insists they're available here. If you're interested, you'll have to do some digging.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:31PM
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I know we don't allow the horizontal ones if you can climb do them and then install an acrylic panel in front of climbing and no need for the panel when the BI is gone...

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:05AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I would keep it simple esp if you will be moving. Do a half wall around the computer area and the walkway to that space. Do std wood or metal railings on the rest.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:46AM
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I think the banisters in this house are pretty, though not modern, so probably not what you're looking for. I'll post a link anyway, as it may help with ideas. I suspect that the gaps are too large to meet current code, and I don't know if it would look as nice with smaller gaps. The link is to a real estate listing. The house has sold and I don't know how long the pics will be there (I don't want to post pics of someone else's house, but I feel like real estate listing pics are fair game).

I like the glass idea. Not 80s at all, IMO.

Here is a link that might be useful: pretty railing

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 7:53AM
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