Using Steel For A Stair Handrail
By Greg Vanden Berge
Let's try to figure out what the real benefits are for using steel for a
stair handrail. There are a lot of benefits for using steel. It's
stronger than most construction building products available. Steel has
been used for about every building construction application through out
the twentieth century, including stair handrailing.
The use of steel for building stairs enables the architect to design just about any form of staircases you could imagine. Wood has its limitations where metal can be structurally formed in almost any shape and still provide the strength needed to walk up and down your steps safely.
Using steel for a stair handrail gives us a few options over wood or other building materials. Steel can be smaller and still provide superior strength. It can also be used for the design of artistic or decorative stairways. There are wood stair handrails that use thin steel balusters instead of wood. They come in all sorts of different shapes and designs and are relatively easy to install.
Wood is known to give off a feeling of warmth and steel often provides us with the opposite effect. Metal is often cold, especially in cold environments and often projects that affect into your home. Wood rarely gets as cold as metal and often projects a country atmosphere for interior decorators.
One of the greatest benefits to a steel handrail is its durability. Steel will take a lot more abuse stand this means less damage over the years. If you ever take the time to look at a wood handrail in a hotel, restaurant or an office building, there's a good chance that you will notice a few scratches in the wood finish. You will also see cracking, splitting, gouges and fading.
I don't want to discourage you from using wood, I personally love a wood stair handrail system, in a private residence. But when you get into commercial, public or even apartment hand railing systems, metal is king. This is because of the wear and tear, often provided by people moving furniture, refrigerators and other heavy items up and down the stairs. Most of the people that live in apartments don't seem to be as cautious as someone who has to pay for the repairs or replacement of the damaged handrails.
Now the bad news about installing steel handrails. Metal rusts, especially if it's neglected or located in high humidity areas. There's nothing like having moisture sit on your handrails all day long. I've seen plenty of damage like this, in homes located near beaches, lakes and even rivers. Is steel better than wood, I'm going to leave that one to you.
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