Wrought iron has been a traditional choice of handrail for centuries, and for good reason. It’s extremely attractive, highly durable, and very safe and sturdy. It’s suitable for just about any taste and style of home as it comes in nearly an endless amount of designs. If you’re uncertain of what kind of handrail material to choose, wrought iron is typically considered top-of-the-line. And, in turn, is usually one of the more expensive choices. In this article we’ll discuss a few things to consider before purchasing wrought iron handrails and if this material is a good choice for your remodel.
To be honest, when homeowners choose wrought iron handrails, it’s usually a style or aesthetic choice. Wrought iron is extremely strong and durable, but many building materials are plenty strong enough to serve as a handrail. Think of it this way – steel is much stronger and durable building material than wood. However, most homes are not built out of steel. Why? Well, in most cases it’s unnecessary. When built and maintained properly, wood framed homes can last centuries at a fraction of the cost of steel framed homes. Is steel better? Certainly.
Many wrought iron railing aesthetics are a carry-over from stone, brick, and steel buildings – and rightfully so. If you are building a structure that is intended to last for lifetimes – if you’re purposely looking for building materials that last longer than wood – most people then would not install wood on their staircases and balconies. In Europe and back east, many of the mansions, brownstones, and large apartment buildings used wrought iron rail, stairs, and balconies because it made the most sense. However, unwittingly, this became an iconic style for homes everywhere regardless of wrought iron serving its intended purpose – lasting forever.
Ironically, most wrought iron handrail is used on indoor staircases where it is protected from the elements; homeowners then using wood or composite materials for their decks and balconies. This is by no means wrong, but wrought iron is a material engineered to stand up to the elements. Wrought iron is great when you have rowdy young children running up and down stairs – it’s great at preventing dogs from chewing up ballasts. However, in most cases, wrought iron within homes isn’t fulfilling its functional purpose. It simply looks beautiful – and that, in itself, is the main reason wrought iron is so popular. It looks and feels incredibly sophisticated, giving an unmatched elegance to any room it’s introduced to. We will no longer harp about wrought iron’s function, but from here on out focus on its form.
While big box stores have tried to replicate the wrought iron experience through production products, most wrought iron is truly custom built to your needs. Wrought iron is still old-world blacksmithing, a real person bending, welding, and even casting metal to suit your project. Because of this, wrought iron is highly customizable and rarely are two projects ever the same. While you provide the broad strokes for the intended style and design, the iron worker almost becomes an artist, interjecting spirals, twirls, and many other accents as they work. Some of these accents serve a purpose, such as better grip, but many are also there simply for you to appreciate. Wrought iron design is only limited to iron’s ability to be bent and welded – the rest is up to you.
Okay, so here’s the meat and potatoes. In Colorado, when someone wants a wrought iron handrail, it’s usually to accompany beautiful timber stairs. Whether the stairs are a free-floating design or simply rugged treads suitable for a lodge, a wrought iron handrail makes the entire piece pop. Wrought iron is the straw that stirs the drink. The combination of timber and iron is a pronounced statement of arrival and ascension. There’s no other way to say it, they look good – really good. Personally, artistic timber staircases are some of our most favorite projects and really brings a home together, the same way a proud fireplace mantle sets the tone for an entire room. Is it needed? Well, yeah – we think so. Some homes and custom work demand these kinds of features.
For a lot of custom and upgraded remodeling and renovations, wrought iron handrails are a sought-after feature. Depending on the location of the stairs, this thoroughfare can become a focal point of the home. In such cases, wrought irons rails can really provide a “wow” factor. In all other instances, the juice may not be worth the squeeze. Wrought iron is generally handmade, custom work conducted by a highly skilled professional. That means that it’s expensive. In most cases, we can’t really advocate or advise you that it’s a functional upgrade as most of the rest your home is probably built out of wood – but it sure is beautiful. For more information on installing wrought iron handrails within your home, contact one of our Project Managers. We’d love to hear more about your project.