What To Expect When Remodeling A Staircase

By Todd Fratzel on Remodeling

Guest Post by Dave Lowe with Indital USA

Expectations – Costs and Remodel Approaches

Decorative Metal RailingReplacing an old predominantly wood balustrade staircase and swapping in powder coated iron balusters can provide a refreshing look to your entire home. Some real estate professionals are choosing to actively approach stair builders on behalf of bank owned properties as the best way to make that foyer a first impression that tastefully stands out. There are many factors which play into the cost estimate of a staircase remodel. You must consider the amount of balusters on your staircase and balcony that you will replace. In an open stringer or “saw tooth” you need to consider (3) vertical balusters per tread to cover no more than a 4” space that is fairly universal by building code interpretations. If you choose iron scrolls or panels you may need to check again to make sure there is no more than a 4” gap within the face of the staircase. Also, materials and designs may reflect various charges.

There are a few options when determining how and where to purchase the parts. This will greatly influence the rest of the install and remodel process. The first is to have a stair builder or contractor purchase the stair parts for you. Some stair builders will charge an estimated price per baluster to rip out the wood baluster and replace with a powder coated option. This makes it simple for consumer or homeowners. For instance, it is not uncommon for companies to charge $18/per baluster for removal of the old baluster and installation of the new. This is for promotion purposes and this usually applies to a part they can buy online for $5-6/ per baluster. So there could be some room considering this point for negotiation. This is the introductory offering and eventually leads the remodeler or stair builder to trying to “upsell” to a high-end finish or fancier baluster option.

Another option is to purchase the balusters and parts yourself. You can do this at a local home improvement store, or look online for a more diverse selection. After purchasing the parts make sure you get several quotes from local stair installers, trim carpenters, or remodelers for the install. Some install companies will try to really make up the lost parts sale on the installation charges. Sometimes you will hear companies quote 2.5 times the cost of material for an install. Many offer an hourly rate with an estimate or will even quote a cost/per linear foot for install. This especially applies if you are replacing the treads, wood rails, and newels. There are many ways to present a formal quote. The goal, like any remodel project, is to receive several quotes from reputable companies in your local area.

The third option is to do the install yourself. This approach is not for the faint of heart, but can save money and turn into a great do it yourself project. If you have the time and know how, the freedom over the design can help you accomplish the exact look you desire. It is important that you first design and plan out your project. It is helpful to use design catalogs or image galleries to offer the initial direction and inspiration. To help with the design process there are free web based AUTOCAD’s that can help you layout the project.

Whichever method you choose, remodeling a staircase can provide you with an affordable way to dress up your home and make it stand out. By replacing old wrought iron or wood balusters with pre-finished powder coated iron balusters or some other material your new balcony or staircase can really bring the look of your home together.


Article contributed by Dave Lowe with Indital USA. Indital USA manufactures wrought iron, wood, powder coat, and inox components which can be used in installations ranging from entire staircases and gates to small frame and craft projects. Visit indital.com for a variety of wrought iron products and wrought iron handrails.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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1 Comment

  1. Dave,
    Nice article. You may want to note that the 4” between balusters is a life safety code issue. It was promulgated to prevent small children getting their heads stuck and getting hurt.

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