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Question DetailsAsked on 6/24/2016

How much does it cost to replace a forged iron hand rail with 13 steps on a semi-circular stair case using wood?

House was built around 1960's.

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1 Answer


Depends a lot on material type, configuration, if a true circle shape or a spiral or such - but common starting estimate numbers (I am reading this as the handrail ONLY) run in the $30-70/LF for the railing (without installation) for the field-bend type (multiple layers of wood that are glued and then bent into one unified railing in-place with clamps and guides) - so around $100/LF rough ballpark installed for that. For one-piece wood rail sections (typically 12 or 16' long) steam-bent typically more like $100-200/LF - per railing. Can be significantly less if done as a segmental railing - straight segments between the uprights (if keeping metal railing) or newell posts (if wood supports/railing).

This is for the handrail only - if you mean the entire railing system, then typically more like $200-300/LF plus for the entire curved railing system (custom factory build) unless exotic woods - and in some cases where extremely long pieces are used shipping can add significantly to that because of the three-dimensional space taken up by it.

Actually, since you are talking a custom handrail, unless the iron handrail is quite wide, I would consider (in discussions with specialty manufacturer or your architect) keeping the iron handrail (assuming code clearances and heights can be adhered to) and ordering a custom handrail that will fit over the existing iron one, bolting in from below - would be a lot easier than cutting off the existing handrail, leaving the uprights (newels or lattice or whatever) sticking up, then having to fasten them back to the bottom of the handrail.

One other probably LOTS cheaper solution, again taking into consideration code clearances/heights, is applying a bent upright handrail to the inside or outside face of the iron railing, in the upright dimension with a roughly (maybe routed or curved edge) rectangular profile - so the existing iron railing assembly would be unchanged, just attaching a curved railing to the swide of the existing railing.

An AWFUL lot depends on how your existing railing is built - and of course with a curved railing you would either have to go with a curve-in-place railing (so laminated) or have it VERY carefully surveyed to ensure the shape provided to the manufacturer is exactly right for a curved wood railing to fit right, because the normal railing is QUITE stiff and cannot be field-adjusted to a different curve to any significant extent.

Ditto on the survey (and I do mean probably a formal surveyor doing it, not just carpenter measurements) if replacing the entire railing assembly with a new railing/ballister/newell system - and you would have to bear in mind fastening systems too, if not changing treads, so the posts cover the damage/holes from the existing ones.

DEFINITELY make the measurements, ordering, etc the responsbility of the contractor, and while he will likely have you sign off on the type/color of finish etc, do NOT sign of on any responsibility for the measurements - that should be solely his responsibility. You do not want a several thousand $ unit arriving that does not fit and him then saying _ "but you signed off on the dimensions" - getting to be all to popular a trick by finish carpenters and especially door and window contractors. And make sure the order is by HIM, not YOU, otherwise any issues with the delivered product are YOUR problem, which is not how it should be.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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