Wood type & finish for interior wood handrail

Jac29April 2, 2011

I am having a new railing made with wrought iron balusters in matte black and a wood handrail. The staircase treads are red oak with a natural polyurethane finish.

I'm not sure I want to use oak for the handrail.....what wood type would you recommend that has a nice consistent grain and may go well with natural red oak? I'm looking at mahogony or brazilian cherry as 2 possible options.....any advice?

Also, is it ok if I have a darker finish on the handrail (for a little contrast from the natural finish on the stair treads), or would it be best if the handrail is the same finish as the stairs?

Please feel free to post your railing pictures, especially if your wood handrail is a different finish than your stair treads.

Thank you all for your help!

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Fori is not pleased

I'd try to match the handrail with other woodwork in the house, not the floor. Think of the treads as floor and the railing as trim.

I don't have pictures but my last home had lightish oak floors (and stair treads) but the rails, balusters, moulding, stringers, door trim, picture rails, etc., were all very dark something.

Of course new homes usually don't have dark wood trim, and painted is more common and not a great choice for a rail. You might have to take inspiration from other things you have.

Anyway, unless you have one of those houses from the 80s where everything that can possibly be wood is light oak, there is absolutely no reason to make your railing the same as the treads.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 1:20PM
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I have seen hand rails that are darker than the floor and they look good. I've also seen $$$ brass (not the icky 80's brass) as hand rails on wrought iron that looks good. I personally like darker hand rails. We are having our new cherry hand rail stained dark. Our treads are walnut and balusters white along with the risers. You don't have to do oak and I wouldn't.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 11:19PM
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Thank you Fori and Loolee for your advice.....I have decided on a darker stain for the wood top....now I need to decide what species of wood to use.

I was looking at brazilian cherry or mahogany but my wood refinisher has advised that they may be too dark for my application (foyer has very little light) he is suggesting that maple may be a good choice since we will have a number of stain choices that can be used.

Anyone have any advice about using maple for a railing top or other wood recommendations?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 5:38PM
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Anyone have any advice about using maple for railing top?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 6:16PM
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