How to Design a Steel and Glass Railing on Wood Sprial Stairs How to Design a Steel and Glass Railing on Wood Sprial Stairs

What You'll Need
Spiral stair kit (one option)
Curved glass (pre-drilled)
Metal frames
Glass panel clips
Low profile newel posts
Welding torch

A steel and glass railing on a set of wood spiral stairs is one of the newest updates to the traditional spiral stair appearance. Using a glass railing on spiral stairs is different that on traditional stairs because there is no railing for the glass to rest in along the stairs. This means you have to get creative. This article will outline how to incorporate glass and steel into your spiral stair design.

Step 1- Determine Kit or DIY

If you want a spiral stair that has glass and steel railings, you first need to decide whether you want to buy a spiral stair kit, or build it yourself. There are kits available that come with glass and stainless steel railings. They are only slightly more expensive than other spiral stair models in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. Purchasing a kit will make sure that all of the pieces are meant to go together rather than trying out different methods to see what works. The problem with adding glass railings to a spiral stair is that there is no stringer or carriage that a glass railing can just slide into and be supported from the bottom. You will have to use metal frame balusters and specially designed low profile newel posts. But, if you feel that a kit will not allow the design you want, then continue to step 2.

Step 2- Altering Your Spiral Stair Design

When you were planning the spiral stairs, you more than likely assumed a traditional railing for it. On a spiral stair there are newel post that connect each bottom stair the the stair above it. Then there are an average of 3 balusters per spiral stair tread. These newel posts and balusters would have connected on the top to a handrail that stretched the length of the spiral stair. If you want to switch to a steel and glass railing system you will need to change everything around. First off are the newel posts. They would have gone all the way up to the handrail, but to install the glass, you will need to purchase newel posts that are only about 8 inches in length. That will make the newel post connect between the two stairs like it is supposed to, but no further. Then you need to purchase different balusters. Since the point of a glass railing is the unobstructed view, you don't want a baluster every 4 inches. Instead, you can install metal frame balusters on every other or every 3rd step. These metal frames will come with glass clips to hold the pieces of glass along the spiral stair. You will need to purchase specially made curved pieces of glass with pre-drilled holes for security pins to keep the glass from sliding down over time. Now we move on to applying these design changes.

Step 3- Applying the Design Changes

Assuming that you have already constructed your spiral stair center pole and treads according to specification, we are ready to start on the railing system. The first thing you need to do is place the treads in the proper position to allow for the installation of the newel posts. Slide the newel posts between the stairs and tighten the post. The method of tightening will vary by the type of newel post purchased. Attach the newel posts one at a time from the bottom up until you can done them all. Then, you can start on the balusters. You should use a 2 inch diameter steel post for the baluster. You can purchase stainless steel glass clips that need to be welded to the metal frame. Each glass clip can hold anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch glass panels. With these glass clips, you need to make sure that you have the glass pre-drilled for the glass support pin. You can usually purchase glass clips from the same companies that sell the curved glass for use with these clips. After you have welded the glass clips to the metal posts, and installed them, you can install the glass. This will be at least a two person job. It makes the most sense to lower to glass panels into the clips from the top down. You need someone tightening the glass support pins as the glass is held.  After the glass is installed you need to weld the stainless steel handrail to the metal posts. You will need to purchase the handrail already formed, in one piece. There are many online retailers that sell spiral stair handrails. After installing the handrail, you are finished. Enjoy your unique spiral stair.


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