709 Nichols Blvd., Unit A, Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Home Improvements 101: Choosing the Best Wood for Stair Railings

Posted on August 30, 2020

There are literally dozens of wood types that can be used for home construction projects. It can be a daunting task to wade your way through the best options available for wood stair railings. However, depending on where you live, what kind of stain you plan to use, your budget and other factors, some types of wood might be a better option than others. You can go to a great place like Eden Oaks designer woodware to shop for your materials, but if you don’t know what you need, then you still won’t find the right one.

Read on to discover more about the type of wood that is perfect for your home improvement project.

Wood railings not only add aesthetic appeal, but are also sturdy and functional. (Image from: Unsplash)

The Importance of a Well-Designed Stair Railing System

From a functional point of view, a railing system determines how safe and accessible a building’s exterior and interior environments will be. The health, safety, and well-being of the occupants are directly affected. A well-designed railing system not only offers support, guidance and safety, it enhances the aesthetics and visual appeal of a building and affects how users interact with their surroundings.

Environment/Geographic Location

Before you even start your stair railing construction project and buy your wood from construction depots like Eden Oaks custom woodware, you should first understand the implications of the location. The environment and geographic location of a stair railing project may dictate structural design requirements and what materials can be used, including the final finish or coating.

Some questions you need to consider include:

Is the climate humid or dry?

When the overall climate is relatively humid, a more corrosion resistant material for outdoor applications is required.

Is the railing going to be near salt water or in a marine environment?

If the railing is to be installed near the ocean, a more corrosion-resistant material should be used both indoors and outdoors.

Is the railing in a wind-prone area?

Specific design criteria for buildings in high-wind regions must be considered.

Rail maintenance requirements may also depend on seasonal weather variations (extreme hot or cold, high rainfall, etc.) or due to the landscape (termites, wet areas etc.)

The Benefits of Using Wood

Wooden materials for stair railings boost your home interior’s appearance in a practical way. (Image from: Unsplash)

Wood is known for its beauty and flexibility in meeting the aesthetic requirements of a railing design because it can be stained or painted without adding excessive cost to a project. It can be hand-crafted for a rustic look, carved for a more traditional appearance, or sanded and finished for a more modern style. Interior wood railing systems can be cleaned and maintained fairly easily, but outdoor systems require regular maintenance since they may be subject to splitting, shrinking, or warping. To ensure it stays structurally sound, an exterior wood railing system must be protected against weather conditions (rain, UV rays, heat, and snow) to prevent deterioration or rot.

The Best Types of Wood to Use for Stair Railings

#1 Yellow Pine

Pine trees are among the most popular varieties in the world because the type encompasses several different species of trees. Yellow pine is incredibly dense. This is why it is durable and can grow in many different types of climates. It is a popular type of lumber for building homes, making furniture, and various wood construction projects.

According to the Online Wood Database, yellow pine wood’s density makes it reliable for projects. It also has the ability to withstand harsh climates, temperatures, woodworking tools and other treatments for construction. This type is one of the best options for railings and flooring for stairs because of its overall workability, its rot resistance, and tough density. Not only is it functional and aesthetically attractive, yellow pine is also one of the most affordable and economic indoor and outdoor wood choices.

#2 White Oak

White oak wood is popular for many reasons. The top reason for its popularity is because of its unique and beautiful coloring--a light to medium brown with an olive tone once it’s chopped and treated. It is also a type of wood that is quite resistant to rot, making it a durable option for projects like building stair treads, rails, moulding, and newel posts. Like the yellow pine, the white oak’s workability has enough give and bend to work well with woodworking tools. The only difference that the white oak has over the yellow pine is that it is a bit on the pricier side given its premium color.

#3 Walnut

Walnut wood is known for its distinct, decorative color and a structure that grows more valuable and darker as it ages. It is quite resistant to indoor humidity, but it isn’t very weather-resistant for outdoor use. The walnut wood resistance to wear and decay, as well as its toughness under wood processing and polishing, is quite high. Although it is a dense type of wood, walnut isn’t too heavy and remains malleable, so it can be easily machined and sculpted for more intricate stairway railings designs. This type of wood is also on the more expensive side like the white oak.

#4 Maple

Just like the types of wood mentioned above, maple is also strong enough to resist any treatment. It is easy to process, polish, stain, and varnish, and the maintenance is a breeze. However, it doesn’t cope with weather changes well. Maple wood looks pristine with its light color and texture, but the scratches and marks can be more visible because of this characteristic. Furthermore, it is quite prone to cracking when it is exposed to humidity and changes in temperature.


As you have read, there are a number of options available today when it comes to wood for your stair railings. If you consider all the significant factors like your budget, the kind of climate you live in, rot resilience, workability, and durability of the material, you can arrive at the best option for your needs.

Please give us at Eden Oaks a call on our phone (719) 985-3336 with any questions you might have about choosing the right kind of wood to use for your stairs project!