Do you have a favorite DIY home project? You know the one that just makes you smile when you think about it. Hands down, our favorite DIY project was the decision to update our staircase with wrought iron spindles.
Our original balusters (spindles) were the builder grade wood with high gloss white finish.It’s one of the few projects where we can proudly say we were on the front end of a popular spindle and baluster trend. Included in this post our ways to reduce the costs on the spindles or balusters.
Upgrade Wood Spindles to Wrought Iron Spindles
I refer to our home’s layout as a “brownstone in the suburbs.” We have five levels in our house which translates to lots of steps and spindles. Like 141 spindles.This was the view from our top level. When our kids were little they entertained themselves by throwing bouncy balls, socks and Goldfish crackers (the dogs loved to chase all of it).
Anatomy of the Wrought Iron Spindles
One thing we realized is if we shopped at four or five online retailers every store had slight differences in the name game for what makes up the staircase. Here’s a quick photo I created to explain the parts for the wrought iron spindles.
Wrought Iron Spindles | Cost Saving Suggestions
We broke this project down into steps (literally). We originally got a quote from a contractor to replace the wood spindles with wrought iron. His quote came in just under $5000. This was right after we had purchased a company and with a large business loan attached, we decided to run the numbers to do it ourselves.
Each of the decisions on the type of spindle impacted the price. So a quick glance below illustrates how we saved money on our project. Remember we had 141 wood spindles to remove and 141 wrought iron spindles to install. It was worth every day of the five months, during the holidays, to complete this project.
We completed this project with an out of pocket expense of around $1300-1500.
twist, square or round bars
When we calculated the price we were lucky because neither my husband or me wanted fancy wrought iron spindles. Regardless of the price, we preferred the single straight bar over the twist bar. Which was great news because a bar with a “twist” meant more money than the “square” or “round” bar option. We went with 141 square bars.
The second decision that impacted price was the number of “knuckles” on the bar. We decided to alternate the bars with with one knuckle, one knuckle followed by two knuckles on the bar. I have seen homes where the spindles included blank bars (no knuckles) to reduce material and labor costs.
Again, the price is per knuckle so it adds up depending on the number of stairs.
The final attachment was the “shoe” secured the bar to the base or the “shoe rail.” This was the last step of this project. It requires every “shoe” be tightened with a little screw. We let our kids help with this project and over the course of a few weeks we tightened and double-checked all 141 spindles.
Another consideration is to go with hollow or solid bars. We quickly decided with 141 spindles we didn’t need the solid bar. At the time, the big box stores were more expensive than the online retailers. Oh, and we had two other neighbors who also wanted to replace their wood spindles with wrought iron too. And, all though we didn’t pick the same bars the guy gave us the bulk discount and free shipping if we mailed to one address.
I absolutely love the look! Love it!