Replacing tired banisters is a cost effective way to update your staircase with minimum disruption. This can mean installing a new handrail and uprights (the sticks that support the handrail) or a balustrade, which can be done by a skilled carpenter or DIY expert.
The upright posts at the top and bottom of the stairs are a fundamental part of the banister’s structure, so they can’t be replaced so easily. They can sometimes be cut right down and a new post be fixed to the existing base, so you swap a traditional wooden post for a modern design but this is a complex job.
When replacing a balustrade, choose between traditional timber, glass, iron, steel or solid plaster. The style of your house, who lives there and cleaning and maintenance are all important factors in making the right decisions. For instance, glass balustrades can help increase your home’s feeling of space and light, but may not be the best option if you have children – unless you are happy to constantly polish away fingerprints. Hand-forged iron always looks good in period properties. There’s also been a move away from steel handrails towards more tactile materials such as timber – also, remember the measurements of your landing, not just your staircase – when getting your quote.
BEST FOR CLASSIC: JULIUS BLUM & CO
In business since 1910, the British institution supplies a complete stock of architectural hand railings and panels from historic to new, used by government buildings, schools, hospitals, stadiums, and commercial buildings. Its catalogues feature every kind of quality mouldings, fittings, posts decorative spindles and collars in bronze, nickel, silver, aluminum, and steel that you can use to create a railing that suits your taste, and setting. From double-sided Treillage panels to handrail mouldings – most items are made in America, with good quantities of stock, and fast shipping available. It is highly recommended by top designer Thomas Hamel. www.juliusblum.com
BEST FOR BESPOKE: ANDREW HARRINGTON
Looking for a towering contemporary staircase to open your house? Follow the lead of top designer Thomas Hamel who uses Andrew Harrington, the Adelaide Hills-based builder turned metal specialist who works mainly with brass, copper, steel, iron, zinc and timber. Past clients include Hotel Palisade, Mr Wong, The Bienale of Sydney, Coogee Pavilion, Woollahra Hotel and Terrace, The Ivy, The Beresford. Need we say more. www.andrewharrington.com.au
BEST FOR DIY: PRESTIGE WALL SYSTEMS
The business supplies a range of classic and contemporary mouldings , that will instantly add elegance, depth and complexity to your staircase. They are lightweight, easy to install, durable and affordable. www.prestigewallsystems.com.au
Best for traditional timber: Stockwell Joinery
It supplies traditional and modern solid wood staircases throughout Sydney, and beyond. It can offer customised looks, starting with a client’s brief and taking care of everything from design to installation – and does great work. www.stockwelljoinery.com.au