Throughout the 1970's and early 1990's, wood balusters were the prominent feature in remodeling and new construction. Wrought iron was used primarily in the first time home buyer market, but it was a complete iron balustrade (newels, balusters, rail, and shoe rail).
The transition from wood balusters to iron began in the mid-1990's. At that time I thought this was only a phase that would quickly come and go. I was dead wrong.
Iron balusters exploded in demand and to date have not diminished.
In the beginning the only available powder coatings were a matte phosphate, flat black, primed, and silver vein. Matte phosphate is raw iron coated to keep it from rusting. Flat black had a sandy texture, allowing it to receive any oil based or acrylic paints. Silver vein was a texture black and silver speckled coating.
As time progressed, other colors became available: satin black, nickel (satin and antique), oil rubbed bronze, copper patina, copper vein, and oil rubbed copper. Bronze and copper accents have become the most popular in design, as the colors worked well with oak, American and Brazilian Cherries, as well as the darker hardwoods such as walnut and mahogany. Style choices became more numerous. Now one has the chance to be totally creative.
Iron balusters are 43" or 44" in length, which will accommodate almost any situation. They are designed to be cut from the bottom. The top has a 3/4" or 1" long dowel for installation into the handrail.
Sizes of iron balusters vary from 1/2" to 9/16", 5/8" to 3/4". They come round or square, solid iron, tubular steel, or stainless steel.
The shoes available for square iron balusters (optional for round) are designed to cover a square peg in a round hole filled with epoxy or construction adhesive. Generally shoes are used on the floor, but can also be used under handrails, especially in remodeling when replacing wood balusters requiring the need to cover a 1/2" square baluster in a 5/8" round hole. Shoes come with or without set screws.
In another article I will explain the do's and don't for installation.
Joseph Swallow has been with Westfire Manufacturing since 1994 and now serves as the company's CEO. Prior to Westfire, Swallow worked in Southern California and Las Vegas as the primary sales representative for Hardwood Creations, a company which he had founded in his garage in 1981. Westfire Stair Parts are available anywhere in North America and can be purchased by calling Westfire toll free 1.800.692.6996 or by visiting their website http://www.westfiremfg.com.
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