Make this stair railing with decorative brass end caps. It’s perfect for upgrading boring, builder-basic handrails!
As we’ve progressed in our basement renovation, I’ve been thinking about the tiny details that will make the space come together. One of those details that I’d been pondering is if we should add a modern stair railing to the stairs that lead down to the basement.
Interestingly enough, our basement has never had a handrail on the basement stairs. The basement staircase is a short one, with only five steps, so that might be why the stairs never had a stair railing.
The steps are a bit irregular though, with the top and bottom steps being a different height than the middle steps. Luke, Greyson, and I don’t have problems with that, but when we have other people over, it always makes me a bit nervous without having a handrail along those steps.
Scary Basement Stairs BEFORE photo with no stair railing
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I decided that adding a handrail was the way to go and then quickly started looking at stair railing designs. I found some pretty, lucite handrails on Etsy but felt like that style was a bit too “pretty” for the basement.
My search for how to improve my basement stairs led me to lots of different types of metal handrails. Those were ok, but since the staircase is a bit boring on its own, I wanted something special for the area.
Decorative Brass End Caps
Finally, I came across a beautiful wooden handrail with brass end caps (see my support wood bar here). After locating the source, I found out it was a company based out of Europe and I couldn’t get in touch with them to see about having them ship the wood stair railing to me.
What does a DIYer do when you can’t get what they want? You make it. I decided to source the wood handrail and brass end caps myself to make a DIY stair railing. Spoiler alert, it turned out pretty well!
Also, this isn’t our first rodeo when it comes to stair railing ideas for updating or replacing. We updated our wrought iron handrails throughout are main level a few years ago! It always makes me smile when I see themes of projects that we tend to do. =)
DIY Stair Railing with Brass End Caps
Let’s get to the project tutorial so you can make one for yourself.
Wood Stair Railing Supplies Needed
Make this Round Wood Handrail with End Caps
- Determine handrail length.
- Cut handrail using a wood saw if needed.
- Stain round wood handrail with stain of your choice. Let dry.
- Apply wood top coat for durability.
- Using a brass ager, age polished brass end caps and flat rail brackets. I counted to twenty for each piece to be submerged before pulling them out.
- Rinse brass caps and brass flat brackets with water after using brass ager to stop the aging process.
- Using a mallet and a cloth, press cloth over brass end caps and gently tap the end with the mallet onto the wooden handrail.
- Determine where you want the brass brackets to sit on the wall and the handrail.
- Using a wood chisel, chisel wood on handrail where the brackets will sit. You do this so that the bracket can sit flush in the wood instead of having the round wood rail sitting on top of the bracket.
- Attach railing and brackets to wall.
Brass Ager on Polished Brass Example
Tips for using the wood chisel on the round hand rail.
- Use painter’s tape to outline where exactly your bracket will sit.
- Chisel a little at a time, checking for bracket fit often.
What is the residential handrail height?
You can check your building codes in your area for handrail height. We ended up placing ours in the 34-38″ guidelines that we saw online.
How do I measure for a handrail?
Measure from the top stair nosing to the bottom of the bottom stair and then add 2-3′.
With most of my DIYs, there are always things that could be a tiny bit better, and in this case, it’s the brass ager. The brass end caps didn’t turn out perfectly even, but they do look aged. Overall, I’m so thrilled with how this DIY wood handrail turned out and am definitely glad we did it!
- 2" Full Round Wood Handrail in White Oak (6'-16' lengths available)
- (2) 2" Polished Brass End Cap for Wood
- (2-3 depending on length) Polished Brass Flat Rail Bracket
- Weathered Oak Wood Stain
- Brass Ager (Brass Darkening Solution)
- Matte Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish
- Wood Chisel
1. Determine handrail length.
2. Cut handrail using a wood saw if needed.
3. Stain round wood handrail with stain of your choice. Let dry.
4. Apply wood top coat for durability.
5. Using a brass ager, age polished brass end caps and flat rail brackets. I counted to twenty for each piece to be submerged before pulling them out.
6. Rinse brass caps and brass flat brackets with water after using brass ager to stop the aging process.
7. Using a mallet and a cloth, press cloth over brass end caps and gently tap the end with the mallet onto the wooden handrail.
8. Determine where you want the brass brackets to sit on the wall and the handrail.
9. Using a wood chisel, chisel wood on handrail where the brackets will sit. You do this so that the bracket can sit flush in the wood instead of having the round wood rail sitting on top of the bracket.
10. Attach railing and brackets to wall.