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Staircase Details: Iron vs. Wooden Spindles

Iron vs. Wooden Spindles

Are you updating your staircase? If you’ve got a flooring contractor coming to redo your stairs, they will ask you what your plans are for the spindles—do you want wood or iron? If you haven’t thought about which you’d prefer, this article is for you!

Why Does Spindle Material Matter?

Well, just like the flooring material you choose for your living space goes through trends, so too do the components of your staircase, like the spindles—also known as balusters. The spindle is like the handles on your cupboards, an accessory you can swap out to instantly update your space’s style and look.

Structurally, iron and wood balusters both perform the same—they hold up your handrail. This means the only reason to consider which spindle material to use is for aesthetics. 

Fast Facts About Iron and Wood Balusters

The question then becomes which baluster material should your flooring contractor put in—iron or wood? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you select the right spindle material for your stairs.

Iron Balusters

Iron spindles are the opposite of traditional; they are sleek, unique, and modern. An interesting fact about iron balusters is that they are all handmade, meaning no two spindles are identical. These are some other noteworthy features about iron balusters:

  • Colour: Iron comes in a few options, like black, bronze, copper, nickel, or silver.
  • Finishes: Once you’ve settled on a colour, there are a few different finishes to choose from, like brushed nickel, antique bronze, satin, powder coated, or rubbed oil.
  • Composition: There are two types of iron balusters: Solid and hollow. Solid spindles are more costly but tend to come in more intricate designs.
  • Design: Iron balusters aren’t just straight lines; they come in different shapes and designs, like swirls, twists, ornamentals, geometrics, or shapes.
  • Limitations: Unlike wooden balusters, you cannot re-sand and re-paint them. 

Wooden Spindles

If your style preference leans towards classic or traditional, you cannot go wrong with wooden spindles. But, wooden spindles aren’t stuck in the past; they have advanced and now come in many different shapes and designs. Here are some other facts about wooden balusters:

  • Colour: The nice thing about wood is that it can be stained white, light, mid-brown, red, grey, or black. Wood is so versatile it can be stained to match any decor.
  • Finishes: You can choose from ready-to-install white, stain grade, or imported.
  • Wood Varieties: Besides all the finishes, you can also buy wooden spindles made from different wood species, such as oak, maple, or poplar.
  • Design: A square top is the most commonly available design, but there are more modern renditions such as square or pin top (from a square bottom, the spindle narrows to a pin top).
  • Timeless: Although iron is beautiful, it lacks the transformative quality that wooden ones do, in that if you want to update the look of your staircase, you can repaint or refinish wooden spindles to match the new decor. Hence, wooden balusters that a flooring contractor installs are timeless.

Which Should You Choose: Iron or Wood Spindles?

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing the right spindles for your space, it’s a matter of choice. If iron and wood balusters are installed correctly, they’re both strong enough to hold up the handrail. There are two main differences to consider when you pick between spindle materials. 

The first is the cost; stain grade wood will cost less than good-quality solid iron. Hollow iron spindles are more affordable but may cost more than economical wooden varieties, except if you’re installing exotic or hardwoods. 

The second consideration is appearance. Before your flooring contractor rips out your old staircase, you should have a reasonable idea as to what you want your new stairs to look like. For some, this means adding sleek or sophisticated iron, while others want wooden balusters to match their traditional or rustic style.  

Final Thoughts on Picking Between Iron and Wood Balusters

Although we cannot tell you which staircase spindle material you should buy, we can assure you that both are equally attractive when installed! You only need to ask yourself which baluster material will better match your decor: Iron or wood?

If you need a second opinion to weigh in on which spindle will better suit your staircase, don’t forget to call the Brothers Flooring for a free, no-risk consultation. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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