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gittaelefant

New railing install- not loving it

G E
2 months ago

They started installing our new railing and something about it is not sitting right with me. I don’t like that funny down swoop and I feel like the staircase shape is not flowing with the railing shape. I included our inspo pics- the half circular spindles are the spindles we plan to put in.

Comments (46)

  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Also- shouldn’t the railing start further inward? This seems like a safety hazard.

  • ci_lantro
    2 months ago

    I would not like it either. How does the real thing compare to the renderings?


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  • lisedv
    2 months ago

    Did they give you a plan for the railing showing that swooping curve? Maybe they can straighten it something like this...



  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 months ago

    It looks fine and apparently code-compliant when it's finished. The code overrides vision, drawings, and inspiration pictures.

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn
    2 months ago

    In your inspiration pics, the post is on the landing, not on the stair. I wonder if that helps to change the angle of all of this? I don't know code on this, but I feel like your hunch about how the upper piece is placed, may be right It seems off.

    It also seems strange that the carpet is still there. Your inspiration pictures show spindles onto the stair treads. If the carpet isn't pulled off, how do you know what the treads look like or if they need to be replaced?

    I hope it gets sorted out!

  • CeeWhy
    2 months ago

    Pardon my crude drawing, but maybe instead of having the handrail all connected you could add a post next to the stair at the bottom of the landing,

    and end the balcony handrail there. Then have the handrail going up die into the post at the top of the stairs instead of the weird way it has to connect?

  • thinkdesignlive
    2 months ago

    The carpet needs to be removed.

  • Lora B.
    2 months ago

    I agree that it isn’t what you asked for. In addition, I think the swoop down at the landing could be dangerous. (Joseph Corlett, she wants what she asked for. The contractor shouldn’t just show up and do whatever he/she wants. Good grief!)

  • Deb Longworth
    2 months ago

    I agree. Sometimes it is better if you play with the design yourself and find a craftsman to execute the design. You want a graceful, flowing line and you aren’t getting it. Stop now and do not proress until you get it more to your liking In the meantime, reove the carpet and think about reworking how those steps tie into the upper landing. The original construction is a bit off. A expert like an architect may be needed. I would get some pipe with radius right angles and play with them, twisting and turning to see how the intersections work.

  • G E
    2 months ago

    Yes of course the carpet is being removed

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 months ago

    " (Joseph Corlett, she wants what she asked for. The contractor shouldn’t just show up and do whatever he/she wants. Good grief!)"


    Lora:


    She could have asked for a railing such as CeeWhy's picture illustrates. That rail would have a bright red tag from the division of inspection decorating it until it was made code-compliant beause it is not continuous.


    No, you don't necessarily get what you want or even what's drawn. A competent handrailer knows what's going to fly and what isn't. That's what you're getting. He's going to build something upon which he can collect, and you can't collect on a red tag.

  • Lora B.
    2 months ago

    Joseph: She didn’t ask for what CeeWhy suggested. Did you look at the picture the OP posted of what she asked for? Is there something wrong with what the OP asked for?

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    2 months ago

    I am curious as to why this was installed with the carpet there and no finished treads . As for the actual railing itself what you see in a picture sometimes is not doable either in your budget or according to code . The inspo pics are 2 quite diiferent looks and sometime you don't get what you want you get what you need.

  • ci_lantro
    2 months ago

    Maybe an illusion but it looks to me like the railing on the upper landing is not long enough. Which causes what looks like a broken dog leg descending on the upper flight where the handrail angles both downward and inward.

    But nothing is making sense with this project. On one hand, there all of those angles where flat & sloped ceilings and wall intersect, the odd circular framing of the coat closet, the geometric play with the entry way floor and now, odd swoops with the hand rail, round pipe and more geometry interjected with the proposed railing.

    With the cart hitched several lengths before the horse. Because whatever is intended for the stairs and landing is going to be 10x more difficult & frustrating with the railing work being done before the stairs & landings are finished.

  • ci_lantro
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Thread with photos of the original railing: https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6322170/should-i-keep-this-old-unsafe-railing-or-get-new#n=24

    I would get the old railing back. Load it up and haul it to a metal fabricator/ weld shop/ ornamental iron shop. Work with them to design a new infill for the framework.



  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @joseph corlett - a big issue is my inexperience. I feel like the railing guy should have said “hey I don’t think this railing will work in this space” and given me a mock up. I didn’t get a mock up or really anything. It was my fault though- I should have been more active and less trusting with the project. We don’t have a contractor (bigggg mistake on our part) so yes- that’s where I’m at.

  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @ci_lantro we bought the house with this shape. It’s a split level. I agree with you thought. Too many geometric shapes being introduced into this entry space. If we were to totally change the design of the railing and start with something new, what would reccomend?

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    2 months ago

    IMO stop right now and get an ID to help with all the choices you have to make. BTW you need a contractor since you obviously do not know what you do not know about renovating.

  • coray
    2 months ago

    Railings are tricky! When we bought our last house (2004), we bought it halfway through the building process. We could make many decisions ourselves, but all of the “big stuff” was already chosen by the builder, incl. stairs and railings. We got continuous “over the top” oak rails and iron balusters and spindles …no problem for us for 12.5 years. When we out the house on the market in late 2015, we had a buyer almost immediately….they loved the house and neighborhood. Just as immediately their home inspector flagged the railings, deeming them unsafe! We were baffled….how could these pass inspection for us 12 years prior, hold our children hanging off them and playing around, yet be unsafe? We had a second inspection, same verdict. We got our builder involved who sent out one of his engineers, he looked at them but wouldn’t give us some sort of safety certification, even though he said they were safe….too risky for legal reasons. We eventually had to hire a guy (via our realtor who said she saw this issue frequently) who had to peel back the carpet on the upper landing (stairs were just oak), cut squares out of the floor on both sides and build fat “cubes” around the upper balusters, nailed and glued together, to reinforce the space the iron balusters were in. It cost us a ton of $$, the railings never felt any different, but they were now accepted. I guess the moral of this story is this: what looks great and pleases your eye might not always be safe and to code. Your installer should know how to do it correctly; get an inspector involved now to settle this and live with what’s safe and looks acceptable, even if it doesn’t exactly match your inspiration pics! Going custom might get you closer to your ideal, but you said that wasn’t in your budget…….

  • ci_lantro
    2 months ago

    G E, what I would do (not a designer!) is re-use the metal railing that was removed. Cut/ grind away the horizontal waves and weld in rectangular steel tubing spaced appropriately to meet code. Just a basic look with a bit of a contemporary wink by using rectangular tubing instead of the usual square tubing. And very much in keeping with the framework which is also rectangular tube. Probably a smaller version of the frame metal would look best but not too much smaller.

    Using the old metal frames, you could also look at metal mesh infill panels.

    I'm seeing light natural wood floors & treads like the inspo pix at the top of the thread. To my eye, the wood is the feature so I would want to keep the railings statement as minimal as possible. A notch above basic/ bland/ generic. Of course, this is just my personal taste & what I would try to accomplish.

    (The original design is kinda' cool but not the best choice with small kids in the house.)

  • PRO
    Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    A fabricated and powder-coated iron baluster is generally a lot pricier than one that includes some metal parts and some wood parts, so I would expect a much larger investment if she goes that route.

    The curve/swoop in the staircase seems to reference the curve in the foyer wall, which is nice. I think you are having a hard time seeing past the inspo photos. If not this design, you would likely need wood newel posts at different heights for the handrail to end into to. I think this continuous handrail look is very elegant and with the black vertical spindles, a nice updated look.

  • coray
    2 months ago

    Do not go back to the old railings! I think once these are completed and your new carpet is in, you’ll like them much better.

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    2 months ago

    I don’t love the shape but think it will be fine when done. Ours is weird too and we were told it was needed to be code compliant. I’ve since learned that’s not exactly true. But alas it’s in.

  • donnamora
    2 months ago

    I also don‘t like the shape. can the top desceding rail start lower and go straigth (insted of starting at the top of the post, maybe starting lower)? is the top horizontal railing at the code height? It looks high to me. I think as long as the distance between handrail and step is as per code, it shouldn’t be a problem to follow the angles of the staircase and landing and not go to the curvy confusing shape they offered. I do feel your pain. When we redid our curved railing we were quoted a fortune. We ended up using the old iron spindles and handrail. We removed the vynil cover with custom wood, replaced the iron posts with wood and we added some decorative iron ppieces to the spindles ( don’t know their name) to add some interest and we like how it turned out in the end). Good luck.

  • donnamora
    2 months ago



  • Alicia
    2 months ago

    I get why you are a little disappointed, but I think it looks nice. It looks weird because there aren’t balusters yet. I don’t think it will bother you once the balusters are in and the treads are done. I wouldn’t start over.

  • PRO
    HALLETT & Co.
    2 months ago

    He took your inspiration and beautifully crafted a code compliant version that looks good in your space. The finish work looks great. It isn't exactly your vision because you didn't know what you didn't know, he didn't know it had to look EXACTLY like the drawing which would be impossible for your stair. IMHO let him finish and enjoy your beautiful new stair

  • Alicia
    2 months ago

    You could ask him to sand that corner down just a bit to round it out, if that’s possible, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. I think it’s just a little pointy, which is what might be bothering you.

  • Alicia
    2 months ago

    I just did a messy mark up on my phone, but you can tell that this will look like your inspo pictures when it’s done, you just need to round that one corners out the tiniest bit.

  • RedRyder
    2 months ago

    Make sure it’s to code before you change it or sand down any points. Inspections are important.

    Being unhappy with the design matters too, so get together with your staircase person and talk this out.

  • N Johnson
    2 months ago

    Stay with it! Look at the photo above and see the curve match the curve of the closet — it looks like you meant to do that, playing up a very distinctive architectural feature. You could always paint the hand rail black to minimize its attention if it still bothers you. What will the treads look like when finished? New carpet? Hardwood? Runner?

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 months ago

    " Did you look at the picture the OP posted of what she asked for?"


    Yes.


    "Is there something wrong with what the OP asked for?"


    No. She's substantially gotten it.

  • coray
    2 months ago

    I think it all depends on the individual: can the renovator make compromises? Is he/she very persnickety or more forgiving? Is he/she willing and/or able to spend lots of $$? Hire only the best of the best? Many of us are used to less than total perfection, others can/would rather spend more to get everything custom and exactly they way they envisioned the end goal; I know which category fall into…..

  • CeeWhy
    2 months ago

    @Joseph Corlett, LLC can I hijack the thread for a minute and ask a railing question? You mentioned above that the mockup railing I drew would be a red tag at inspection because the railing is not continuous. I have very similar stairs and railing to these photos found on viewrail.com and Houzz (may also be Viewrail stairs). Mine are U-shaped switchback stairs similar to the second photo. My railing is not continuous at the landing, just like in these photos. Is this against code? The inspector didn't mention it at all during any of our inspections and now I am curious!




  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Want to thank everyone for commenting. I’ve been reading and taking everything in and will continue to post updates. Will also reply to everything. Really appreciate the responses. @ceewhy Are horizontal railings usually to code? I don’t know why I thought they’re considered dangerous for kids?

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 months ago

    CeeWhy:


    This is one of those "generally speaking" type of codes. The code is what the inspector says it is on the day he says it and they have plenty of lattitude.


    G E:


    For a while "ladder" style guardrails weren't code, however, that rule has been reversed after they found out that children climbing them were more myth than reality.

  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @joseph toddlers are notorious for breaking myths lolll

  • CeeWhy
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @Joseph Corlett, LLC thank you for your reply, I figured that might be the case!

    @G E I have heard horizontal railings are against code in some jurisdictions, but I don't know for sure? I don't have young kids anymore but I did threaten my teens that they better never stand or climb on the railing, either. Teenage boys tend to dispel myths, too...


    ETA: I am just now remembering that years ago our house had stairs with an open end stringer very similar to this photo. My toddlers would hold onto the vertical balusters and climb up the side, all the way to the top, all. the. time. and it drove me absolutely crazy! Luckily nobody ever fell off. Kids - we think we can protect them from themselves but they always find a way.



  • Alicia
    2 months ago

    I don’t think it’s against code(at least where I live). But kids still might climb horizontal railings. in my experience it’s not a myth. I’ve got two small boys and my oldest tried it on our deck railing a couple of times when he was three.

  • PRO
    HALLETT & Co.
    2 months ago

    Ceewhy your handrails aren’t continuous and the open ends are dangerous as they can catch (floppy bathrobe sleeves for instance) That said the final inspection at my house they literally only checked the smoke alarms…

  • CeeWhy
    2 months ago

    @HALLETT & Co. correct. My handrails are continuous everywhere but where the first run of stairs meets the landing. Then there is a continuous handrail across the landing and down the second run. If it is dangerous and against code, our inspector either didn't catch it in the multiple times she was here or she didn't know/care. She was pretty thorough everywhere else and actually called us out on some minor things that a previous inspector had passed off. <shrug>

    I have heard about the "catching". I get the sleeves of my bathrobe caught on my lever-type doorknobs more than anything else. Makes me wonder sometimes why they are considered safe. 😄

  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    So overall I feel like while my railing installer knows how to build and install railings, I don’t think he’s artistic or creative. So essentially I’m looking for someone to design and draft a railing for me and work with the space and then I’ll present that design to my railing guy. Does that sound like a good idea? Where would I go about finding a talented railing designer? It can be remote I’m assuming since it’s just the drafting and I can provide measurements and pictures and everything.

  • Hélène
    2 months ago

    does not have a nice symetrie should continues as right angles

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 months ago

    "So essentially I’m looking for someone to design and draft a railing for me and work with the space and then I’ll present that design to my railing guy. Does that sound like a good idea?"


    Make sure your designer is completely familiar with the code please. We've seen all kinds of cool-looking guardrails and handrails here that don't meet code. It's easy to design cool stuff; it's much more difficult to design cool stuff within the parameters of the law and safety.


    Keep an eye on the face of the railing guy when you present the design please. That's a good idea.

  • G E
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @joseph thanks for all your help with this. Yea, I’m interested in keeping it to code for sure. Also, I need a safe railing because I have young kids! Would you have any recommendations where to find a creative rail designer?

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