A typical 25-foot handrail costs an average of $900 to install, depending on the material used. Wood is the least expensive option, costing from around $700, while steel or aluminum costs around $1,600. At the top end of the scale, a 25-foot wrought iron rail could cost $10,000 or more depending on the amount of custom metalwork the project requires.
But no matter how big or small your budget, a handrail can make a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your home. This guide will tell you what you need to know about materials, cost, and more to help you choose your handrail wisely.
|What you can expect|
|Range per linear foot:||$31.34||$48.66|
|Range for this type of project:||$188||$292|
Cost of residential-grade, solid wood stairway handrail in oak, ipe, walnut, maple, or cherry. Durable, thermally-catalyzed clear finish for use with cable railing, with 1-1/2"x2-3/4" rectangular profile and length up to 12'. Rate is inclusive of local delivery, as well as standard excess for perfect installation and occasional repairs.
Handrail Labor, Basic
Labor cost, under typical conditions, for complete installation. Mounting bracket will be secured to wall framing, and stairway handrail up to 10' length secured in place. Rate is inclusive of all aspects of the project, such as thorough planning, acquisition of equipment and material, preparation and protection of project site, and meticulous cleanup.
Handrail Job Supplies
Requisite supplies for the job, including fasteners, connectors, and materials for surface preparation and finishing.
|cost to install a stairway handrail|
|National Avg. Materials Cost per linear foot||$5.18|
|National Avg. Cost (labor and materials) for 50 linear foot||$1,681.46|
|National Cost Range (labor and materials) for 50 linear foot||$1,322.44 - $2,040.48|
The main reason to install a handrail is straightforward safety. Without something to hold on to while climbing or descending a stairway, young children or seniors can risk a dangerous fall. And even people with a strong sense of balance can experience vertigo when climbing a staircase without any handrail.
For safety, a handrail is usually set at a height of between 34 and 38 inches, and should be capable of supporting 200 pounds or more. Wall-mounted handrails are the most economical choice, but open stairways may need a rail mounted on the open side using balusters or spindles to meet the building code. However, every local area will have its own specific regulations.
But just as importantly, handrails can also improve the looks of your stairway, and there's a wide range of design styles and materials to choose from. The right handrail can either blend into the rest of your home's decor, or be a focal point in itself.
Every home and stairway is different, but there are four main factors which decide how much a rail installation will cost. Some of these factors add extra time to the project, while others increase materials costs. In either case, asking for a detailed estimate is essential before committing to a project.
The larger your stairway, the more raw materials will be needed, and the longer the installation will take. All this adds to the price.
A simple, straight staircase with a single rail is the least expensive, while multiple stair flights or curved designs increase the cost.
The material the handrail is made from has a large effect on the cost. Wood is the least expensive, rising through steel and aluminum in the mid range, to wrought iron at the most expensive.
If an old handrail needs removing, or you need the new handrail painting or finishing, the installation cost will rise. Preparation work in particularly can be costly if it requires removal of debris and repair of damage to walls.
Replacing a stair railing usually costs more than installing from scratch, as depending on the original material and fittings, removing the old rail could be a delicate task.
Nonetheless, the price range is similar to installation, with an entry point of around $700. The upper end of the range can rise to $10,000 or even more, depending on the complexity of the design, the material used, and the size of the staircase.
A less expensive alternative to replacement may be to refinish the handrail, which costs between $5 and $10 per square foot of stairway. The handrail refinishing price is usually calculated by stair area, as although it's less work than refinishing the entire stairway, the contractor will set a minimum price to make the job worth their while.
Likewise, painting a handrail will cost between $5 and $20 per linear foot, depending on the number of coats and the time required.
The cost of stair railing is usually quoted per linear foot. A typical stairway needs a rail 25 feet long, although larger or more complex designs can increase the length considerably.
Railing costs vary widely according to the material. At the lower end, wood costs between $30 and $75 per linear foot. Wood is versatile, and can suit both modern and traditional decor styles. What's more, it can be finished with any stain color you need to make it fit in with your home.
Softwood railings are less expensive, but also less durable than hardwood rails. If you're using wood for an outdoor porch or deck, always choose a weatherproof, pressure-treated hardwood as the rail material.
Steel rails can range from $60 per linear foot up to $110, while aluminum comes in at between $70 and $80. These metal handrails are more durable, making them ideal for busy stairways, but can be difficult to fit into more rustic decor designs. Metal is also the best choice for exterior handrails, thanks to its durability and weatherproof qualities.
At the top end, wrought iron will cost at least $100 per linear foot, with prices of up to $900 per foot for the most intricate custom-built rails. Wrought iron can provide the most impressive handrail designs, and can suit both classic or contemporary decors with a little thought.
|Stair Rail Material||Average Cost||Lowest Cost||Highest Cost|
|Wrought Iron rail||$500.00||$100.00||$900.00|
The style of staircase you install depends on the space you have available, the layout of your home, and your own personal preference. In general terms, the more complicated the stairway design, the more the handrail will cost to install.
These are the simplest style of staircase, and the least expensive to install a handrail onto. They consist of a single flight of stairs connecting two floors with no corners, bends, or breaks.
These stairs increase the level of privacy for the second floor, and also reduce noise transfer between the floors. They're also more compact than straight staircases, but will require two handrails, increasing the expense.
The main benefit of these stairways is safety, splitting the height into two parts. If someone slips, their fall will be broken by the middle landing, reducing the risk of injury. As with u-shape stairways, two rails will be needed.
These staircases are the most compact design and are ideal for smaller homes, but mean a hefty step up in installation cost. However, they also add a generous element of style and elegance to a home.
Similar in shape to spiral staircases, helical designs are wider and more dramatic, taking up more space and costing more to install. They make an impressive choice if space and budget allows.
This staircase is also curved, but not so smoothly as a spiral or helical. Most often the staircase makes a series of 90-degree turns, with each stair set at an angle to make a smooth bend rather than using flat landings at each corner.
There are also two types of more open staircase, which can give a more spacious and airy look.
These stairways have no vertical back for each step, relying on supports fitted lengthwise either down the middle of the stairway or at both sides.
For these staircases, each stair is fixed to a wall, with no support on the open side, and often with no stair backs. The result is a staircase that looks to be floating in the air, an effect which is largely undone if a handrail is fitted. However, lightweight rails with glass panels are sometimes added to floating stairways to increase safety.
If your handrail design includes balusters, which are the pillars that connect the rail to the stairs, this will increase the cost considerably compared to a wall-mounted handrail. The price varies depending on the material, but expect to pay between $1,200 and $1,600 for a typical stairway.
Depending on the age of your staircase and its condition, it might be a wise option to replace the stairs at the same time as the rail, to minimize future disruption.
For interior stairways, a typical cost range is between $173 and $275 per linear foot. For exterior stairways, such as to decking or a porch, expect to pay around $100 per stair tread, or more for stone or concrete stairways.
The following table shows the average cost to install stairway handrails per linear foot:
|Linear Feet||Average Cost||Lowest Cost||Highest Cost|
An average cost for cable railing, often used on outdoor staircases or around decking, is around $60 per linear foot. The advantage of this kind of railing is that it provides a high degree of safety, while offering relatively unrestricted views.
And although it's most often used outdoors, cable railing can make a dramatic option for modern or minimalist interior decor styles. For indoor use, cable railing can be fitted with steel, aluminum, wood, or wrought iron posts, to match and enhance your existing interior design.
A 25-foot handrail will take an experienced professional around eight hours to install. Hourly rates will vary according to location and the installer's own charges, but expect to pay between $568 and $922 on average.
If the job is more complex, for example if the original handrail needs to be removed, the cost can rise significantly.
Installing handrails yourself isn't something to be taken lightly. With their important safety function, the quality of work needs to be the highest priority.
And even the most capable DIY enthusiast may need to acquire a permit under local building codes before attempting a project with such safety implications.
For both these reasons, installing or replacing a stairway handrail is a task best left to experienced professionals who know the regulations inside out.
❓ Is there a difference between balusters and spindles?
⭐ What is a newel post?
🤔 What is a banister?
❓ What are stair treads and risers?
✔ Are custom built hand rails available?
📝 Do you need a permit to install a stairway handrail?
📐 Do all staircases need a handrail?
👷 What's the best handrail material for exterior use?