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Our Finished Staircase with Horizontal Stair Railing!!

After living months and months (years?) without any railings on our two staircases or the second story of our house (not recommended BTW), I’m thrilled to report our staircase renovation is finally complete! Today I’m sharing all of the details on the staircase reno and horizontal stair railing.

We went through a lot of considerations before pulling the trigger on anything related to the staircase. We debated cable railingtiling the risers, vertical vs horizontal railings, tread coverings, etc. It consumed hours of research and I even thought we could DIY some or maybe even all of the project. In the end, we hired everything out! Staircase work is meticulous and it was definitely the right decision to bring in the professionals.

Check out that sexy before photo! When we bought the house, the second story and the stairs themselves were covered with nasty, old carpet and the railings were orange-y colored wood that I knew had to go. Shortly after buying the house we had new hardwood floors installed in the downstairs living area and entire upstairs. We ripped out all of the old railings upstairs beforehand so they didn’t have to make cuts around the posts that I eventually wanted to remove. The staircase, however, was left exposed until we could tackle it. Once we started the staircase renovation project, finishing the staircase flooring was the first step. Here’s what our two staircases looked like at the beginning of the project.

staircase renovation project stairs before staircase renovation project before photos

There are many ways to go about transitioning previously carpeted stairs to hardwood flooring. Our flooring guys decided the easiest way was to build out the existing stair risers to make it flush with the lip and then install the flooring and new white risers, repurposing our existing skirt board trim. The riser height and tread depth were still within code requirements so we were good to go.

We opted to apply the tongue and groove hardwood on the stairs rather than install treads or retrofit treads (which are made specifically to cover previously carpeted stairs), this way we didn’t have to worry about stain matching or labor associated with applying the stain. Some hardwood flooring will offer matching stair treads but ours did not. (P.S. The wood flooring that you see on the first floor will be replaced with the dark brown hardwood we’ve put in everywhere else in the house – that’s the last and final phase of the flooring and will happen when we renovate the kitchen which is on the same level.)

After about 7 days of work by a team of 2-3 guys each day, the staircase flooring was done and ready for railings. We still need to add trim to the wall along the staircase but we opted to do that part ourselves to save some on labor costs.

Horizontal Stair Railing

We decided to finish our staircase with metal horizontal stair railing. The railings are powder coated aluminum. Powder coating is a process where they spray colored powder onto the metal and then bake it on, essentially. The finish is smooth and extremely durable. We used a local metalworks company, RedArc Metalworks, to custom fabricate the railings. The handrail on the stairs is approx 38″ high and the pickets measure about 3.75″ from each other. The handrail on the second story balcony is 42″ high, a bit above the code requirement to mitigate some of the risk associated with horizontal railings, mainly related to them being a climbing hazard for kiddos.


During the first visit, they did rough measurements so they could give us a quote. We had been in contact with them via email so we knew approximately what the quote would be. Once we approved the quote, they came back a second time to conduct the field measure to get exact measurements and angle of the stairs, etc. then they started the fabrication. About 4 weeks later they came a third time to do a dry fit of the railing frames, to make sure everything fit and determine if they needed to make any adjustments, which they did. The adjustments were made prior to welding in the rails/pickets.

They work off a very detailed diagram based on the measurements and design specific to our staircase.

Once pickets are installed they powder coat each section and then it’s ready for install. A few weeks later, they came back for the fourth and final time and installed all of the finished sections. Installation took 4 guys about 2 hours.

Staircase Flooring & Horizontal Stair Railing Cost Breakdown

The labor for the staircase flooring was $2k. That doesn’t include the cost of the materials, which all depends on what floor covering you use. Hardwood flooring stair noses can be pricey and we needed 30 of them since we have two staircases so our material cost was approximately $3k.

The total cost for the horizontal metal railings was $7,200. We have about 80′ total of railings so it was about $90/foot and included everything, fabrication to install.

Our Finished Staircase with Horizontal Stair Railing

horizontal stair railing horizontal stair railing horizontal staircase railing open living and dining with second story and black metal horizontal staircase railing black metal horizontal stair railing balcony with black metal horizontal staircase railing

So there ya have it! Our finished staircase with metal horizontal stair railings! What do you think of the transformation?

32 Responses

  1. Hello!! I’m planning on doing something similar to this in a rental. (Not nearly as long of a distance.) I can’t find any code anywhere saying you can or can’t run the balusters parallel to the slope of the steps; only that it isn’t recommended because of children climbing. I assume since this company did it, it is okay?
    Thanks!! Looks great.

    1. Hi there! I’d check with your local building codes/authorities but in our case, it is allowed, there’s just code requirements on the distance between the railings as well as height of the handrail.

  2. Hello! We are in SW Michigan and have received very expensive quotes to fabricate horizontal railing. They have also told us it cannot be powder coated due to the size and configuration. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Jill, I’m sorry to hear that. Our railings were in about 9 pieces to allow for powder coating and easy install. Are you getting quotes from metalworks companies for aluminum railing? Aluminum is much less expensive than iron. I’d keep looking for a company/metal works contractor until you find one that’s a good fit. Good luck!!

    2. Hey Jill,

      Check out Nacy Engineering & Fabrication, LLC!

      Not sure your exact location but it’s in Metro Detroit

    3. Jill,

      If you still need someone, I have a guy out of Waterford that does amazing work and honestly has great prices (probably doesn’t charge enough). Let me know if you want his info.

      1. Hi Shannon. I just came across this post and also looking for the same thing. Can I get your guys info if he is still doing this work? TIA

  3. Hi Becky! I came across your beautiful railing while searching for a similar style for our deck. Can you tell me the dimensions of the posts as well as the horizontal rails? I would really like to copy this look!

    Thanks in advance.

      1. Hi Becky, Your staircase is so beautiful! We are in the process of having a local welder build a similar staircase for us. I was wondering the same things as Karen but I was also wondering the dimensions of the handrails? Are they the same as the posts? Lastly We have 7 steps just like in your bottom picture. However, we have a closed staircase not open like yours. I have been debating about weather or not we should put a post in the middle. The guy who is going to be doing the work said that if we have 1″ pickets that we don’t need the extra middle post. Please let me know your thoughts! Thank you so much, Nina

        1. One other question. The person we are working with paints the the steel instead of powder coating. Do you know anything about this? Thanks again for your help!

        2. Our handrails are 2″ wide and 1″ deep. Our posts are 1.5″ squares. It’s impossible to make a solid recommendation re: the post without seeing it. If it’s going to look different than the rest of your post spacing then I’d keep it but if the rest of the posts are spaced similarly I’d leave it.

  4. Hi Becky,
    Gorgeous staircase design !
    We are also doing a steel staircase, and I was wondering how “ clean” the welding lines are where horizontal meets vertical.
    The guys doing my stairs are craftsman, so I trust their work, but the welds seem a bit more “ messy” than I expected. I am sure when all is done, I won’t notice. I was wondering if yours are the same, and if you have a close up picture?
    Thank you!

    1. We used RedArc metalworks, I think they’re now called Fl Fab Works. I have heard from other readers they are very unresponsive and others have not had luck reaching or hiring them.

  5. Why do people ask questions that are answered in the post? Drives me crazy!
    Wonderful project! I love the way it looks and how well it fits with your decor and style.

  6. This is exactly what I’m looking to do and our homes before pics look very similar! I also love your family room chandeliers! Where are those from? And the total cost of your railings was $7200?

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Hey, I'm Becky!

I’m just a girl who loves home. Follow along as we renovate, decorate and live in our fixer-upper farmhouse, the Daly Digs.

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