When it comes to buying stair parts, how do you weed through all of the myriad of products, prices, online stores, etc?
Aren't they all pretty much the same?
They all look pretty much the same from website to website but the prices often vary slightly. How do you decide who to trust and what to avoid?
The reality is that not all stair parts are created equal. Despite images online looking very similar, once you hold them in your hand or are walkign up the stairs next to them, you will be able to see the difference. Let's face it, in most scenarios, the staircase is often a central piece in the house. A staircase can create continuity and flow or can simply look like a necessary chunk of utility. Choosing the right stair parts can make the difference between the two.
It is my job to know the difference between the many options and to ensure that my clients receive only the highest quality products available. In all of my time working with stair parts I have com in contact with the balusters of many different manufacturers and I have found 3 key differences that separate the good from the mediocre from the bad.
1. Finish Quality. In "most" cases, iron balusters are powder coated however not all materials used in the powder coating process are the same. In the same way that paint quality varies, the quality of powder coating can vary greatly. Cheaper stair parts will use a grittier powder coating which gives the baluster a less refined, bumpy and inconsistent finish. Higher quality parts use higher quality powder coating which makes the baluster seem like the iron and the paint are one and the same piece.
2. Metal thickness / quality. Simply put, cheap baluster manufacturers try to cut corners wherever they can and this means putting less material into their product. You can hold the same design baluster by two different manufacturers and with your eyes closed be able to tell which is good and which is not quite there. The material used in quality balusters simply feels more solid (because it is)
3. Design quality. Baluster designs do not vary much from one manufacturer to another. Everyone has the same basic designs that they sell based on what the market demand looks like. This is truly a case of the devil being in the detail. Cheap stair parts do not take the time to manufacture refined products. While the differences might be subtle when comparing simple designs, once you begin to compare more complex craftsmanship, the higher quality balusters will really separate from the cheap.
So how do I buy the right ones when all I have to go on is the pictures and prices?
Sadly, you would think that cheaper balusters would simply cost less but that isn't always the case. What you can count on is brand. I will not point a finger at balusters that in my opinion are a lower quality product but I will speak to three manufacturers that produce high quality products and that you can count on.
1. WM Coffman
2. LJ Smith
3. Walnut Creek
These three manufacturers have set the bar in the industry and they always deliver the highest quality products be it iron or wood, these are three brands that you can count on.
- Joshua Swenson