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Vertical Expression
The vertical canvas of a stair is primarily defined by the spindles. What you see when you take a step back for a full view, that sight is composed mostly by the spindles. These upright rods provide a safe enclosure, to be sure, but they also act as an opportunity to show some creative expression. Spindles can easily act as a modernistic or classically ornate enclosure.

Knowing their function for safety and as a chance to be artistic, you’re then better armed to shop around for the perfect combination of style and material in your spindles. The options for spindles are varied, so you want to take the time to ensure you select the ideal look and something made with lasting quality.

An initial factor to take under consideration is what material do you want in a spindle? Something Wood? And if wood, then what species? Something light? Something dark? Something that takes a coat of paint well? Something that stains easily or finishes nicely? Each species of wood will give you different advantages. Salter has the following woods in their line:

* Red Oak
* White Oak
* American Cherry
* Brazilian Cherry
* Maple
* Walnut
* Hickory
* Douglas Fir
* Pine
* Alder

for indoor, and:

* Teak
* Mahogany
* Cedar

for outdoor.

Each of these woods have different grain, hardness, color, and durability properties, and more. So it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on your woods before you finalize that choice.

Outside of wood for your stair spindles, there’s also the option of different metals.

A range of metal options you may expect from a quality stair manufacturer includes:

* Steel
* Iron
* Aluminum
* Galvanized Steel

Each of which also offer their own advantages to be mulled over before buying. This basic dual selection of materials, wood or metal, probably isn’t news to you. But just the act of really considering the specifics of each can give you a much more satisfying product in the end.

Classic or Modern; Finish Your Material
Following the train of thought generated by material selection, wood vs. metal, you’re then faced with the style selection phase—classical vs. modern. Remember, spindles are a great opportunity for expression. And the handcrafted feel of an ornately cut and shaped wood spindle highlighted by either bright blonde species or rich cherry species tones is a great way to accomplish that vintage feel. Or, accomplish that great vintage and old world feel with some intricately designed wrought iron. Metal can feel traditional as well.

Wood, other than with stain, finish, or paint, is pretty much the color of the material itself. But that’s more than likely what you’re after with a gorgeous wood. Iron offers the same approach—there’s something about its raw beauty.

If you want a cleaner look for a modern minimalist setting, then a metal spindle with a simple shape and finish is your best option. Or, to make that minimalism more whimsical, take advantage of the fact that metals lend themselves to creative custom finishes through either painting or powder coating more easily than woods.

Mix and Match
Sometimes the best aesthetic is not uniformity. You may find it dull and flat to look at a row of spindles that are all the exact some and decide it may be fun to mix it up a little bit.

With Salter’s forged iron spindles, you can select from various groupings of spindles that create a more textured and varied look to your stair to add depth and complexity to the overall aesthetic.

And again, wood can be cut to various shapes, so even if each spindle is similar, each spindle itself will possess a complex and textured look.

So if you seek a look that mixes it up a little perhaps wood or iron are your best options.

Indoor vs Outdoor
As you’re planning for your stair placement and deciding on materials, remember that there are some materials that are more suitable for outdoor placement than others.

The woods mentioned above are a great example of this. There are a limited number of woods out there that are perfectly suited for outdoor applications because of their natural resistance to moisture and rot. With minimal upkeep, these particular species of wood will last for years and maintain their finish even in an outdoor setting. Just be aware of the affects that sun and precipitation will have on them.

Your metals, aluminum, steel, and galvanized steel, can all be used for outdoors. Just remember that standard steel will require a good coat of primer, paint, and seal. Possibly in multiple coats. Standard steel will also have to be monitored more closely for touchups down the road to stave off rust and other corrosion.

Bearing the risk of corrosion in mind, it’s a definite must to educate yourself on the proper preventative steps. You can get a material that’s more resistant to the adverse effects of the outdoor (or even indoor) elements, but unless your get aluminum, you will be faced with the need for proper upkeep at some point down the road.

That being said, maybe your decision making process should be partially determined by what type of upkeep (and how frequently) you’re willing to do.

If you don’t mind a little regular painting, then steel is a good option for you. Just make sure you go with a good rust prevention paint for outdoor settings. For more infrequent painting, galvanized may work. Galvanized steel rarely corrodes (it’s hard to scratch through the zinc armoring), but when it does, you need to find a zinc-rich paint product.

Wood will present you with the same preservation needs as any outdoor wood structure. The occasional stain and finish to repair any sun or moisture damage is what you’ll be dealing with. Just pay attention to wear you place the stair. Is it in a sunny spot? Does your location see a lot of rain? Pay attention to these factors for down the road.

Then there’s aluminum, you’re only maintenance free option.

Height and Space Code
An easy way to alter the look created by your spindles is to add some or remove some. This immediately gives your spiral stair a more or less open feel. Which is a handy fact to keep in mind for those whom like structures with a minimalist feel. Just keep in mind that if you have to meet code with your stair then that hyper-open feel will be difficult to achieve by just removing spindles. Building code requirements for spiral stairs require that there be no more than 4” of space between each spindle. So if code is a concern for your space, then you’ll have to explore other venues for your minimalist look.

Likewise, spindles, as they make up part of the railing, must be cut so that your overall railing is at least 34”. So if you’re looking for a shorter height to have a more open feel, that won’t be doable if meeting code is a concern.

After plowing through each of these considerations, you should be about ready. But one thing to remember, of course, is the bottom line. Each of these choices will affect your final expenses. So if you want an exotic wood, just remember that you’ll have to pay for that. If you want a more ornate design, just remember you’ll have to pay for that. If you want to deal with zero maintenance, you’ll have to pay for that.

So ask yourself what conveniences and aesthetics are most important to you and come up with a combination that first comfortably within your budget in order to be the most happy with what you finally get.

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