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How to Choose the Right Material for Your Staircase Balustrades

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The balustrade, or railings and balusters for your staircase, are more important to your home's overall appearance than you may realize. The right elements for your staircase can add style and visual appeal to a hallway or foyer, whereas one that doesn't fit the space can make it seem cold, dark, and just plain bland. If you're having a new home constructed or are putting in a new staircase, consider a few tips for how to choose the right material for your staircase balustrades.

1. Glass 

If the staircase is in an open foyer and might otherwise block the light coming in from windows on one side, opt for glass balustrades. This will allow for maximum light exposure. Glass is also good for a staircase in a dark corner, as it will reflect any light source and keep the stairs from looking too dark and dull.

Some staircases are an architectural feature; the risers may be made of an expensive wood or they may be a special shape. Glass balustrades won't interfere with the view but can act as a frame for those staircases.

While glass can be a good choice in these cases, remember that it does tend to show off every smudge and fingerprint. In homes with pets and small children, a glass balustrade may start to look dirty much sooner than any other material.

2. Metal

Metal rails can work well for a modern décor, but they can also break up the look of wood on a staircase. Add wood balusters with a wood staircase can sometimes make a home seem a bit rustic, so to keep the look updated, opt for metal instead.

Metal rails also keep a staircase open so you can allow in light or keep the balusters from blocking windows behind them. If you want a unique look to your staircase, opt for metal in a personalized design; a metal stamping plant can usually create just about any look, from curves to flowers petals and geometric shapes. A metal screen can also be a fun and interesting look for your stairs.

3. Timber

Timber is a classic choice for balustrades, but be sure you don't overwhelm your space with too much wood, as mentioned above. Consider using a light-colored stain on the timber to keep the look from becoming too heavy, or paint the timber balustrades white or cream colored to tone down the look.

In a large home with white walls and lots of light, you might go in the opposite direction and actually paint the balustrades black for a modern and stylish look. The white paint and light source will keep it from being too dark and dull.