Tips on Choosing New Staircase Parts

Stairs are a prominent feature of most homes, so getting the design right is important. A beautiful staircase can make a fantastic centrepiece to impress your guests, as well as serving a practical purpose.

But looks are only part of the story – safety is another vital issue. Many older staircases fall short of modern standards, so replacing your stair banisters can help bring your home up to scratch. Here are a few decisions you will need to make:

Which materials?

Most household staircases are manufactured from wood, but metal and glass are becoming more popular. Timber will probably still be part of your stairs, at least as far as the treads and supporting structure are concerned, but you may decide to combine wooden staircase components with glass panels or steel spindles (also known as balusters) for a more contemporary look.

Wood is a beautifully warm, versatile material that will suit any setting. It is ideal for a wide range of designs, including curved stairs, turned newels and different styles of handrail. Wooden stair spindles, in particular, can be readily worked into all kinds of decorative shapes – or left plain for a minimalist look.

Which timber is best? Pine, hemlock and sapele are worth considering if you’re on a tight budget, especially if you are intending to paint or stain the staircase. At the other end of the scale, ash, walnut, southern yellow pine and oak stair parts offer premium looks and durability, but come at prices to match.

Metal stair balusters shaped to resemble wrought iron are extremely popular nowadays, with a wide choice of both traditional and contemporary designs on the market. Durable and decorative, they can easily be painted to match the rest of the decor if required. You can also get chrome or brushed nickel effect stair spindles for an ultra-modern feel.

Glass panels can look stunning on a banister rail, and are ideal for poorly lit spaces as they allow light to flow freely around the room. They can be combined with wooden or metal handrails and newels – and even glass treads, for anyone keen to add a touch of contemporary glamour.

Which handrail design?

There are two main types of handrail system: post-to-post and over-the-post. The strongest, most popular and economical design is post-to-post. In this system, the handrail runs between the newels and is fitted into the sides of the newel posts with traditional mortise and tenon joints.

In an over-the-post configuration, also known as a continuous handrail system, the rail runs over the top of the newel posts, often ending in a decorative swirl called a volute. This design is more eye-catching and elaborate, but a little less sturdy than the post-to-post system. However, it can look stunning and is regarded as a sign of quality by home buyers.

Staircase safety

When revamping your stairs, you can take the opportunity to bring them up to date in terms of safety as well as style. The most important modern regulation, brought in to prevent small children becoming trapped, is that no gap anywhere on a staircase should be large enough for a 100mm sphere to pass through. This applies to every stair part, but the main thing to look out for when replacing the banisters is the amount of space between spindles. In order to comply with the 100mm rule, the distance between the spindles (or glass panels if applicable) must not exceed 99mm.

The measurement is taken from the smallest part of the baluster, so if you buy turned balusters you will probably need to order more of these than the square or stop-chamfered varieties. Staircase manufacturers will be able to help you calculate the number required to meet the regulations (usually two spindles per tread).

The rule also applies to the space between steps on open-tread stairs. If it is greater than 99mm, you’ll need to install riser bars at the rear of each tread to reduce the size of the opening.

Conclusion

Choosing new stair banisters, or indeed a whole new staircase, can present an array of challenges, with potentially tricky decisions to be made about design, materials and costs. However, the process will also give you the opportunity to improve a key part of your home – and, of course, increase its overall value.

Planning Your New Staircase – 8 Great Tips

Although we tend to take them for granted, stairs can have a surprisingly big impact on the look and feel of our homes. An attractive, well-designed staircase can give the whole property a lift, adding instant appeal and even increasing its resale value. Shabby stairs, on the other hand, are likely to have the opposite effect.

But how do you go about planning for a new staircase? Follow these simple steps:

1. Measure the height

Before ordering your stairs, you need to determine how much space is available. Start by finding out the floor-to-floor height. This involves measuring from the top of the finished lower floor to the top of the finished upper floor. The term ‘finished floor’, by the way, refers to the surface you walk on and includes any floor covering such as carpet or laminate. Once the staircase manufacturer has this information, they can work out how many steps are needed to create well-proportioned stairs that comply with UK building regulations.

2. Measure the width

Having established the height, you now have to find out the width. This comprises the total measurement across the strings and steps combined. (Strings, also called stringers, are structural supporting boards running along each side of the staircase.) Unless you’re designing a house from scratch, the width of the stairs will be determined by the current space available.

If you have any choice, go for the widest steps that will fit. A broad staircase is safer, easier to use and more practical, particularly in large family homes. While there is no legal minimum width in the UK, the standard figure is 860mm, so try not to make your stairs narrower than that.

3. Straight or winding?

As for the layout of the staircase, a single straight flight of stairs is the easiest and most economical option, as long as you have enough floor space. L-shaped and U-shaped stairs that twist back on themselves are widely considered to look more attractive. However, they tend to be more complicated, and therefore more costly.

To create a turn in the staircase so it can change direction, you will need winder treads or a landing – or a combination of both. A winder is a kite-shaped or triangular tread which is used to create a turn in an otherwise straight staircase.

A landing is an intermediate platform set between floor levels to join flights of stairs together. It might consist of a quarter landing (the width of a single flight of stairs) which makes a 90 degree turn in the staircase, or a half landing (the width of two flights of stairs) which creates a turn of 180 degrees, giving a U shape.

4. Treads and risers – open or closed?

The steps are made up of treads – the part that you walk on – and risers – vertical boards that form the face of each step. Risers can be open (with gaps between the treads) or closed (encased with solid boards). Open risers are particularly popular in modern homes as they increase the flow of light. However, young children and elderly residents may find them a little challenging.

Many people like to add one or two feature steps at the foot of the stairs for extra impact. Various combinations are available, including single or double D end shapes and more softly rounded bullnose steps.

5. String style

The strings, or stringers, can be closed or open. A closed – also called solid – string runs up both sides of the staircase and completely envelops the treads and risers, concealing the edge of the stairs from view. An open, or cut, string has the upper edge machined away so that the outline of the steps is visible from the side. This style is more complex to make, and therefore more expensive, than a closed string design, but is widely considered more desirable.

6. New newels?

Newel posts are upright supports that anchor the handrails, treads and strings of the staircase, forming an essential part of its structure – so don’t rip them out unless absolutely necessary. They come in a variety of designs and may consist of a single post, known as a plain newel, or a shaped piece of timber (a newel turning) attached to a separate base. If you are only revamping your stairs rather than installing new ones, you would be wise to retain the existing posts and just change the newel caps for a fresh look.

7. How many spindles?

Spindles, or balusters, are the vertical supports that connect the handrail to the rest of the balustrade. As they are such a conspicuous feature they can have a huge influence over the look and feel of a staircase, so give your selection plenty of thought. You don’t necessarily have to stick to just one style of spindle – try mixing and matching two designs for something a bit different. Glass panels are also a great way of creating a light and airy feel.

As a general rule of thumb, you need two spindles per tread, or one where there is a newel post on a landing. Most stair manufacturers will be able to help you work out how many spindles or panels are required.

8. Handrail hints

Under UK rules your staircase needs a handrail on at least one side if it is narrower than 1m, and on both sides if it is wider than this. Many people prefer to fit one anyway, for ease of use. Most handrails run between the newel posts (known as a post-to-post system), but on some stairs you can choose to have them flowing over the tops of the posts (an over-the-post system). You may also want a wall-mounted handrail, particularly if you have children.

3 Reasons to Love Glass Stairs

It’s not hard to see why glass staircases, in particular glazed side panels, have become so popular in recent times. As new-build houses seem to get smaller and smaller, and rising prices force many buyers to settle for modestly sized properties, home owners are finding creative ways to make the best of what space they have.

Using glass instead of wood or metal in your stair banisters can bring several benefits:

Light

The hallway is often the darkest part of the house, which isn’t ideal for making a good first impression on visitors. A traditional staircase balustrade, consisting of a handrail and base rail connected by wooden or metal spindles (also called balusters), will contribute to the gloom by blocking precious natural light. Using glass panels as the banister infill will instantly brighten the room by encouraging light to flow more freely.

Space

It’s amazing the way glass can make a room feel so much bigger. A transparent balustrade offers little or no barrier to the eye, increasing the sense of space. This is particularly useful for staircases situated in a living or dining room, as clear panels make the structure seem less obtrusive.

Style

Glass is much favoured by interior designers at the moment, and will suit almost any age of property. It can improve the look and feel of a modern house, boosting its contemporary credentials and bringing it bang up to date. At the other end of the age scale, glass can offer an interesting twist to a period home. A dark cottage with beamed ceilings and small windows, for example, can be brightened up and made more appealing by replacing solid wooden balusters with light-enhancing glass panels.

Which type of glass should you choose?

Good quality glazed panels should be made from toughened safety glass at least 8mm, and ideally 10mm, thick. Large single panels will create the most impact and allow maximum light flow. These normally have to be made to measure, so be prepared to wait a bit longer and pay a bit more than for standard sizes. Installation can be complicated, and is best left to professionals. Small panels are less showy, but more versatile and often the best choice for awkward layouts. They can also be combined with wooden or metal spindles if desired.

How is the glass fitted?

Depending on the staircase design and personal taste, you can usually choose whether to fix the panels to the balustrade with metal clamps (either at the top and bottom or at each side) or slot them into pre-cut grooves in the handrail and base rail. It is sometimes also possible to attach the panels to the handrail only, without using a base rail, so that the glass is suspended just above the steps. From an aesthetic point of view, fitting the panels directly into the wooden banisters results in a cleaner outline, but some people prefer the contemporary look of shiny metal clamps, or brackets. These are most often found in a chrome or brushed nickel finish. You can also use stainless steel discs if you’re after a particularly striking design.

Which handrail?

Wooden handrails are the most popular, and the most comfortable to use. A low profile (small and narrow) style will produce the most streamlined, modern effect, whereas a chunkier design may be more suitable for period properties. Metal handrails go well with glass for a contemporary look, and can be attached using brackets or grooves.

What about other glass stair parts?

Treads and risers are both available in glass. Treads can be made in a variety of thicknesses, usually between 20mm and 40mm. The glass should be toughened and laminated for extra strength, and include a non-slip finish. Glass risers are growing in popularity too. They can be fitted to the back of glazed treads or, more unusually, to wooden ones. This is guaranteed to produce the wow factor, letting light shine through the steps while keeping the safety benefits of a closed tread staircase.

Summing up

When it comes to creating a light and airy feel in your home, glass stairs are ideal – and the panels are available in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes that there’s a good chance of finding something to suit your particular circumstances. Just keep a cloth handy after installation, as smudges and fingerprints could spoil the impact of your stunning new staircase.

Convert Your Living Room – A Home Improvement

From early times in the United States (U.S.), up to the 1970s, much family activity centered on the living room of a home. Also known as “the receiving room,” home makers took guests there as soon as they entered the home. This room contained the best seating and furnishings. There, the draperies hung finely about the windows. A small piano might reside in the room. A vase with fresh-cut flowers and a bowl filled with nuts or mints might rest on the coffee table. “Eat something while I fetch coffee from the kitchen,” a home maker might say to guests.

Kept spotlessly clean, the living room location permitted the homemaker to entertain guests without their getting far into the dwelling (where messes lurked). A home maker might comfortably engage in polite and interesting conversation, and make an impression on guests in the living room. That location, the most formal, coat-and-tie room in the house, exuded sophistication as well as cleanliness and it wordlessly identified the family as rising in social status (or it did not). But, housing changed in the U.S. in the 1970’s when people wanted to express themselves, to have more choice, and they cared less about what guests thought of them.

They cared more about configuring their home with imaginative and useful living space. Still, even today, most newly constructed homes, as well as the ones built before the 1970s, have living rooms. Yet, the family room (where the radio once rested, then the television set sat, and now the wide-screen TV mounts upon a wall) practically centers both the family and their guests. Entertainment in the digital age, not simple conversation, requires access to digital content (no coat-and-tie necessary or wanted).

Homeowners began to remodel their living rooms into home offices, a special room ensconced with a desk, a computer work station, and online access. Then, the computer work station evolved to become the source of computer games and many former living rooms and offices became online gaming rooms. Now, neither computing nor gaming require sequestering in a room. A tablet or a laptop enables mobile computing and a smart phone enables online gaming.

Where does this leave the old living room? Some people place a bar there, complete with a pool table. For other people, this has become the guest bedroom (closed off with an access door to a full bathroom). Pets sometimes get the room for themselves, complete with their bed, toys, a hundes bar (a hound’s bar with water and kibble), and an access door placed at the base of the front door. Any of these ideas make more sense than a living room devoid of life, a haunt of bug ghosts and dust bunnies. #Tag1writer

Simple Tips For Low Cost Home Improvements

Have you been thinking about remodeling your home? Keep in mind that you can often achieve your goal without a giant expense. Small improvements introduced in almost every room, including the exterior of the house can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Keep it clean and keep it simple!

A clean and neat house is appealing and eye-catching. You can start improving the appearance of your house simply by cleaning out the debris. Try making your garden look like an ideal place with some weeding and cleaning out the flower beds. Paint the front door to give your home a more welcoming feeling.

De-cluttering is also a part of cleaning, so get rid of things you don’t need to make room for new ones. The first glance is usually enough for a selective buyer to quickly estimate a house.

Does the exterior of your home need repainting? Is there a walkway that you can highlight by introducing some flowers? Remember to keep it simple. Focus on making things neat and tidy.

Two hot spots of every home:

The two most closely inspected rooms of a house are the kitchen and the master bathroom. If you are looking to focus on two hot spots, these are the interior rooms where the most value can be added during a sale, so make them look their best to increase your return on investment.

Is your kitchen may be in need of an upgrade? A well updated kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so focus on spicing up this room to grab buyer attention. Renovating your kitchen using modern décor is going to instantly improve the value of your home. Many times a buyer will compromise on other rooms and will buy a home just because its kitchen is well-maintained and inviting.

The same holds true for bathrooms, especially the master bathroom. You will charm open house-goers with modern upgrades like dual vanities and soaking tubs in your master bath. Replace the faucets and clean up the bathroom counter. We would again emphasize on simplicity because for easy maintenance.

What to Invest in?

So, you’re done de-cluttering, cleaning and upgrading. What’s next? Well, if you are willing to make a good upgrade investment, it is recommended to divide your renovation plan into four parts to bring impressive improvements to your home. Here are the four areas you may want to seriously consider upgrading:

Lighting: If you are not satisfied with the lighting system in your house, replace it.

This would entail buying lighting fixtures and other equipment for each room to make it look consistent and attractive.

Plumbing: Many old homes have rusty pipes and some leakage in the plumbing that needs attention. Your home will not sell fast and at a price you have in mind if you haven’t already upgraded the plumbing system.

Flooring: Most people nowadays look for hardwood floors or alternatives that are easy to manage and provide health benefits instead of carpeting. Tiled floors are also fairly acceptable. If you think this improvement would bring you higher profits, make the investment without delay.

HVAC Replacement: Today new energy-efficient HVAC systems are being introduced to the market that incur a one-time cost and help you save huge amounts of money on utility bills. You can add a unique selling feature to your house by making this replacement part of your home improvement strategy.

What’s really worth repairing?

Remember that not all things are worth repairing; some need to be thrown out and others need to be replaced. This is a good principle to follow when staging a home.

Inspect every aspect of your home and then come up with a plan within your budget to bring a fresh crisp look to your home. You may want to replace outdated appliances in the kitchen with new modern models. Repairing old appliances is not an option. If your budget doesn’t allow an appliance upgrade, simply give the ones you use a color-boost to improve their appearance.

If you already have wooden floors installed at home, look for scratches and be prepared for some refinishing. Wooden floors are highly desirable, even if they are old and worn. Give them a little lift-up to make them more attractive and appealing.

Nowadays energy-efficiency has found its way into many of our systems including the windows. Home buyers look for the latest windows and other systems that are designed as energy-efficient since they provide a number of economical, health and environmental benefits. Replace your old windows for new energy-efficient windows to improve the value of your home.

If your bathroom floors are tiled, look for any flaws or cracks especially if the tiles are white or light-colored. These types of flaws are hard to conceal even if you arrange everything else very neatly. So, before investing in other bathroom accessories replace a cracked floor tile.

Make Home Improvement on Budget a Reality

Home is the place where the heart is. One of the best ways to improve quality of our life is to spruce up the home we live in. Although home improvements can cost unlimited amounts, it does not always require a fortune to improve the interiors of your home. You can carry out amazing changes in your apartment on budget.

Identify Misses

First of, when you are on budget it is important to identify the areas which require replacement or improvement in your home. For, the prime purpose of home improvement is to ensure no pending repairs post the renovation. This would help you plan the direction of the entire home repair project. Depending on the nature of projects you can decide upon the budget, duration and other factors for home improvement.

Gear up for change

Now you can gear up for the change you need. You should research online and visit home décor shops to get ideas for the purpose. You can save a lot of money by DIY on your previous, used or antique furniture, fittings and cabinets. It is important to check out price differences offered by second-hand shops, antique shops and online lists.

Knowing the expenses helps you get ready for the expenditure too. You can also check out your credit limit available. Home improvements can be one of the smart ways to enhance the valuation of your home. You can also check out if you are eligible for homeowner loans. Leveraging home equity you can draw substantial funding without any hassles.

Some handy home renovation hacks on budget

Kitchen

Kitchen is one place where whole family meets multiple times in a day. A change in the look of kitchen space can transform the feel of your entire home. You can consider changing the colour or cabinet doors for this. Do not forget to visit thrift stores or reuse centers to find the surprisingly cheap deals. Go for contrasting colour and you would revolutionise the appearance of your home. Also pay attention to kitchen lighting. If you need to replace any of the electronic or kitchen gadgets, opt for energy-efficient replacements. It would save you energy bills and keep your home updated.

Living Room

A renovation cannot be complete without bringing change in the living room. For low-cost home improvement, consider redoing the furniture placement. A simple shift of couch from right to left can bring more than expected alteration to your home view. In case you have a centre wall, consider using a bright and unique colour for that wall. Then deck it up with picture art, wall art or an embellished stole gifted by your grandma. The bright walls can steal the attention from other little flaws around.

If you need a new couch, consider using the old frame and get it covered up in a contemporary style. This would bring the modern look with least expense.

Bed Rooms

Changing bed room furniture could be expensive. You can consider changing the bedding, rug, curtains, cushions and every other add-on in your room. If your side tables are old-fashioned, you can consider using attractive wall paper on the front of drawers. It would not only bring a new look but would also cease the boredom owing to old furniture.

Another quick hack could be using darker colour for ceiling. Change in the colour of ceiling would bring a novel look in your personal space. We watch more of the ceilings in the bed rooms after all!

Lavatory

Do not overlook leakages and chipped paint as they are common in the bathroom area. Change faucets if there is any fault. Try to organise if you have too many objects in your bathroom.

Besides, simply changing the mug, bucket and rug can beautify your lavatory. You can introduce an attractive canvas cover for the new feel.

Front and Patio space

For small apartments, an additional sitting space can add enough value to the property. You can consider de-cluttering the backyard and incorporating chair for 2 people at least. You can add a beautiful cushion to an organiser and create a seat. This add-on would not cost more than £20 and enliven the dull space in your home.

Needless to say, do not leave the broken nuts and bolts on window panels or side entries. A new colour for outer walls is a must even if you have decided to keep the inner walls untouched.

Best Trees for Indoors

Trees are great things to have in your yard. They clean the air, they give shade and privacy, they are great for climbing and they are beautiful to look at as well. While many trees are just too big to think about growing inside, there are many trees that make wonderful accents to the inside of your home. Here’s just a few:

If you are a fan of the Victorian Era you may have seen pictures or seen movies of the time with parlour palms sprucing up the, well, parlour. The adapt well to low light and humidity and they are on the list of NASA’s 50 Plants That Clean the Air. And face it, they’re breezy and fancy and who wouldn’t want one in their living room in a large ceramic pot?

If you want a touch of Christmas in your home year round, what about a Norfolk Pine? They are essentially baby Christmas trees that love bright light and moist soil. At Christmas time you can decorate them with little bows or fairy lights, but they make a great addition to any room year round.

If you like big bold statements you’ll want a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in your living room. These trees have large sculptured leaves that give the air of the tropics without being weepy or wispy. These trees love light but don’t like drafts so keep them away from windows and doors and you’re good to go.

The Ficus is perhaps the most popular indoor tree there is, heck, they even make a fake version that you just dust once in a while and forget about. The real version is actually a weeping fig tree if you want to get technical, and they come in different textures and heights so they’re perfect for any room, any where.

Love the tropics but live where there seems to be perpetual winter? Then what about adding a Majesty Palm to your home? They are fan shaped and have that tropical feel to them and best of all they are slow growing if they aren’t getting strong sunlight. Throw on the heat, watch the palm tree and pretend you’re on the beach, even if it is January and there is a blizzard waging outside.

If you like more of a desert type tree then the Yucca is for you. They have thick woody stems and pointy leaves that come in a variety of blue to blue green colours and have yellow, cream or white tones to them too.