Outdoor stair railings and indoor stair railings generally have the same purpose in that they both assist in providing safer conditions for individuals using the stairs. The major difference is that outdoor railings are subject to weather conditions that normally require the use of different materials than those required for indoor railings.
There are other considerations you should consider when choosing your outdoor stair railings. Some of these considerations may include the following: stair design, matching color with your home's external walls and trim, materials that will be resistant to weather and climate conditions. There are a variety of materials available for outdoor stair railings with different advantages and disadvantages.
For railings that present a classier, rustic look, many choose wood. Wood railings can be polished for a more contemporary look, carved for a classic look, or the more rustic look that comes with the stained, natural wood grain look. A log home, or one constructed in a more rural setting, may be made more attractive by using cypress, oak, pine, maple, cypress, or even mahogany. Alternatively, these railings may also be painted. But almost without exception, these outdoor railings will need to be sealed to protect against weather conditions such as rain, snow, heat, and UV rays. Weather cannot only detract from the natural beauty of your wood railings, but it can also deteriorate them and create slivers for people who grasp the rails for security.
If you're looking for durability, strength, or less frequent maintenance in your outdoor railings, you will probably want to consider those made of metal. These railings can also be painted to match exterior house colors and design, but they are typically used more with more contemporary designs. Some are simple and unadorned, while others may be pre-molded in various designs.
Wrought Iron and Stainless Steel Railings
Wrought iron railings are typically associated with elegance. You will often see them on outside stairways near glass doors and painted to match the pastel shades of nearby walls and trimmings. The fabricated, hollow rods of wrought iron railings are usually chosen for a lighter, more delicate appearance. Less often, you will see stainless steel as a choice for outdoor railings. These will usually need to be weatherproofed to maintain their polished appearance.
Stone, Marble, or Granite Railings
The most classic look of all railings will usually be those of granite, marble, or stone. But these will almost always require a professional to install them. Not only are they heavier, but they are more fragile and vulnerable to cracking and breaking. Usually they will require special fasteners to hold them in place.
Aluminum, Vinyl, and Fiberglass Railings
For the more inexpensive railings, you can usually depend on those made of aluminum, vinyl, and even fiberglass resin to be used where a smaller budget necessitates their use. Although these railings are typically more durable in harsh weather conditions, they do not provide the class and beauty offered by other stairway materials.