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A few weeks ago, Ken and I embarked on one of our scarier DIY projects — crafting a wood/glass staircase railing. Sure, we’d never built a sauna before and had certainly never sided our house (and hopefully never will again), but for me, safety-related DIY projects are always scary no matter how much experience you have.

diy staircase railing


After months of researching, we decided on a solution that would be both durable and beautiful, and then began brushing up on our knowledge of safety regulations, weight restrictions and more. Turns out it was much easier to craft than we’d expected with a few learning curves along the way. Care to see how we fared?

diy staircase railing

Get your math hat on, friends, because this one’s a killer equation. We spent an afternoon measuring our desired glass size, handrail height (36 is standard), length, wood spacing and more. Many headaches ensued, but we finally reached a verdict and headed out to the hardware store to order our tempered glass in custom sheets (with a milk shake as a treat for using our wicked math skills!).

step two diy staircase railing

The custom glass turn-around time was 2-3 weeks, so we prepped and cut our wood as we waited patiently for the tempered glass to arrive. Because we would be insetting the glass, we had to dado the wood with a hand-held router to allow for a seamless finish.
diy staircase railing

We installed basic foam weather stripping directly to the wood so the glass would be well-padded with little play once it came time to lay the glass inserts into our frame. Worked like a charm, and I was thrilled to have a job that was more my speed!

diy staircase railing

This step was much easier than I had envisioned, as we were lucky that our wood wasn’t warped in the slightest and each angle necessary was a near perfect 90. Oh, the DIY gods were indeed shining on us that night.

diy staircase railing

Once our frame was built and metal plates were attached, it was time to prep the floor to install the frame! By this time, our glass had arrived and we were itching to finish.

diy staircase railing

Bolt the frame to the floor, secure the railing and admire our handiwork! Only one more step to go…

diy staircase railing

Once our frame was secure, it was time to install the glass panels and attach the handrail to the top of the frame. Everything fit properly and we’re thrilled with how durable the entire piece is!

You know my favorite part about this project? We no longer have a giant hole/death trap in the middle of our floor, so we can bring on the guests! If you’re in the Midwest, come on over! Especially if you’re handy with a miter saw…

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Design Inspiration

15 Responses

  1. @hyperbets says:

    OH MY GOSH! It's BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! Well done, well done!

  2. CplusE says:

    Awesome job! The thought of handling large sheets of unfettered glass makes me cringe — kudos to the two of you!

  3. designmankind says:

    Thank you so much — it was a bit scary, but we're so happy that guests can come over and no longer fear for their lives!

  4. [...] See the original article here: Our DIY Staircase Railing [...]

  5. That is definitely an option. However, my concern is that the stain job may come out looking like we did it ourselves. We may just have to bite the bullet and have them redone professionally or replace them altogether…

  6. Beth Putnam says:

    Incredible. As a real estate agent, it took the house from unfunctionable (no offers) to the centerpiece modern design of the house- multiple offers! Well done!

  7. Bryon Will says:

    I feared for my life, nevertheless, I am here to write about it. Nice work Erin and Ken. It's way cooler than you described!

  8. Amy PureHome says:

    Amazing job! I love the natural element brought to the space with the wood.

  9. Greg says:

    I can't wait to see the finished railing this weekend and can't believe that your husband has finally accepted our year+ old offer to help you guys! Looking forward to seeing you.

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