Handrails and railings are two of the most important safety aspects of a staircase since they help deter falls and accidents. For a variety of stylistic qualities, these stair components may be manufactured from a variety of materials, such as metal, wood, or glass. The staircase’s look will be influenced by the choice of stair railing and handrail.

For stair handrails and railings, the ideal material relies on the surroundings of the staircase and the intended appearance. Metals, such as wrought iron, aluminum, and steel are popular alternatives for commercial and industrial settings and modern spaces. Glass, on the other hand, is often utilized when the view beyond the railing is of primary concern.

How do handrails and railings differ?

Handrails and railings are two components of a staircase that are often mistaken for one another. Handrails are used for assistance when ascending and descending the stairs. The handrail must be sturdy and serve as a constant stairway guide. In addition to being linked to a wall, it may also extend from the side of the stair rail or rest on the balusters on the outer part of the staircase. Railings, on the other hand, are the barriers that keep people from going down the stairway’s edge. They are able to withstand force without breaking.  Moreover, they are constructed from a wide range of materials and designs, spanning from a basic balustrade of vertical posts to a contemporary cable railing.

The following are the five materials usually used for handrails and railings:


Steel is a common choice for both handrails and railings because of its strength and durability. Powder coatings, liquid paints, and primers are usually applied to steel to improve its efficiency. Because of its low maintenance requirements, it is an utterly ideal construction material. Additionally, steel is a durable, all-purpose material that can be used both inside and out, regardless of the climate. This material is often more challenging to set up given its weight.


In comparison to steel, aluminum is a naturally occurring element with a lesser density compared to other metals. Aluminum, which resembles silver in appearance, is highly reflective. Also, aluminum is inherently impervious to rusting. Aluminum is simpler to cut and shape than steel because of its significantly lower weight. Consequently, it’s accessible in a larger range of styles. Powder coating is an option for aluminum handrails and railings, allowing for a wide range of color choices. This material is more costly than steel when used for handrails and railings, which is its primary drawback.

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is a kind of iron alloy with a minimal carbon percentage. Its adaptability is one of its key benefits. There are unlimited possibilities with this material’s malleability; it may be utilized to create anything from a clean contemporary aesthetic to ornate leaves or scrolls. Similar to aluminum, powder-coating is also available for wrought iron handrails and railings in order to provide a wide variety of colors. One thing to remember when choosing this material is if not thoroughly maintained, it can easily corrode.


The most conventional and timeless material for handrails and railings is wood. The natural beauty of wood handrails and railings is one of its primary benefits to the environment. They are also pretty easy to clean. This material can be used to produce a range of aesthetics since it can be fashioned into any form. Wood may also be dyed or colored to complement your interior design scheme. Because wood is often inexpensive to acquire and assemble, it is a popular material for do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Its downside is unless it is coupled with contemporary materials, such as glass or metal, interior wood handrails and railings might seem outdated.


Glass may not seem to be a very safe material for staircase construction. Still, it is really far more durable than it appears. Glass is available in several forms, including transparent, translucent, colored, frosted, and engraved. Because it allows natural light to pass through, a glass railing makes a space appear larger. When installed outside, it can also serve as a windbreak. Glass is simple to clean, but its downside is it must be done often since grime and fingerprints show up immediately.

Key Takeaways

Stair railings and handrails promote safety and aid in the prevention of injuries and accidents by securing the individual utilizing the staircase. As discussed above, handrails and stair railings are available in a range of materials, such as metal, wood, and glass. With all the available choices, you can definitely select custom rails to fit your design. Also, to generate a range of aesthetically attractive and intriguing designs, different materials may be employed for every component. Styles of handrails, ranging from conventional pickets to contemporary cable wire, can affect the appearance of the staircase. Styles of handrails may also impact the look of a staircase, although this is mostly determined by whether or not the staircase is open or enclosed.