Spiral Stairs: Kit vs. Manufacturer

Find out which Staircase Option is Best for You

When you first start looking at the possibility of purchasing a spiral stair for your home, one of the first questions you come across is whether to purchase your stair from a specialty stair manufacturer or to purchase a kit stair from a hardware store. To clarify, when we say “kit” stair in this sense we don’t mean all kits, but specifically those ready-made kits available in hardware stores off-the-rack.

A kit stair from a hardware store looks attractive at first glance by merit of its lower price tag. However, it’s worth your time to really analyze exactly what you’ll be getting for your investment point by point and determine if that hardware store kit stair really is a cheaper investment in the long run.


One of the most obvious differences, typically, between hardware store kit spiral stairs and spiral stairs kits made by a quality manufacturer is in the hardware.

If you select a quality manufacturer for your spiral stair, your connective hardware will be applied in such a way where its visibility is reduced in order to give the stair an overall cleaner look. This can be done via such features as closed end steps, or treads, which hide where the balusters appear through the bottom of the tread.

Kit stairs from hardware stores, however, will not include such additional features that hide the hardware. Furthermore, with some hardware store kit options, you’re likely to encounter plastic parts. These plastic parts will wear and tear quickly, making them a poor investment.

Spindle Connection

Another aspect that will stand out as far as the differences between a hardware store kit stair and a quality manufactured spiral stair is the spindles, or balusters.

Kit stair balusters, will have standardized connections to the handrail. These standardized baluster-to-handrail connections will likely loosen over time. And, just as where the baluster connects to or through the tread, where the baluster connects to the handrail you’re likely to see clunky hardware.

A quality manufacturer’s stair, though it is likely to come with a higher price point, will use such techniques as individually mitered balusters so the angles of each baluster is exactly flush with the handrail. This mitering, though it comes with a price tag, will ensure your balusters don’t loosen, and thus, rub, which leads to ruined finishes and possible corrosion.

Sleeve Quality

adjustable-sleeve-spiral-stairThe construction of tread sleeves between hardware kit stairs and a quality manufacturer’s stair is also vastly different. A kit stair is likely to be outfitted with stackers, or spaces, that slide over the center column between each tread. This creates the necessary riser space between each tread, but it also means more parts, which means more parts that can rub against each other, which leads to scratched finishes, which can lead to corrosion. The use of spacers like this, because it also means more parts, also means a much less clean and more cluttered look for the column.

If you’re willing to make the investment and work with a quality manufacturer, your tread sleeves will be longer so spacers won’t be necessary. That means fewer pieces that will rub against each other and scratch surfaces. It will also mean a cleaner look for your column.

Wood Tread Quality

Yet another factor that jumps out as a drastic difference between hardware store kit spiral stairs and a quality manufactured stair is the tread material.

Wood treads on a kit stair are rarely made from actual, or at least solid, wood. Often, the “wood” treads on a hardware store kit stair is made from plywood with wood grain veneers. Such treads already have a low quality aesthetic to them. These will come with a lower price tag, but once again, such a product isn’t an investment. You can’t stain or finish a piece of plywood with a veneer to preserve it and make it last longer. Plus, you can’t really create a personalized look for your stair when your only “wood” option is plywood with veneers.

A quality stair will come with solid wood treads that can be made from any one of a number of domestic and exotic wood species so you can completely customize your look and properly preserve your stair with wood stain and finish.

Kit Look

One issue unavoidably inherent in a hardware store kit stair is that it will look very much like a kit stair. While there are high quality DIY spiral stairs available out there able to be built with a handcrafted look and feel, something with the complete lack of customizability that you’ll find in a boxed kit stair from a hardware store will look like exactly what it is. It won’t have any personality or uniqueness in the build. And it will look cheap. So if you’re installing the stair anywhere in your home that sees guest traffic or where you’d like to create any kind of décor theme, a kit stair from a hardware store is not your best option regardless of the seemingly attractive price tag.

A quality manufacturer will work with you to custom design your stair to give it a one-of-a-kind look and feel so it can become much more a part of your home than a ready-made stair from a hardware store ever could. Contact Salter at (844) 316-8395to get started on your unique spiral staircase.

Limited Finish Options

A further setback that will come with a ready-made hardware store stair is the inability to customize the finish before it arrives at your house. If you have the materials and time to paint your own stair post-arrival, then this may not be that much of a setback. But even if you do have the time, your finish’s look will be limited by your own abilities.

A more customizable stair from a quality manufacturer that gives you several finish options to be applied pre-arrival gives you a product that will be a much more personalized piece to your home. From custom colored powder coats to unique patterns, if you have a chance to speak with a designer at a quality manufacturer, you can expect something very artistic in your spiral stair.

Limited Material Options

A final issue to consider when tempted by the lower price point of a pre-made hardware store spiral stair is the limitation on material options. You may have two or three choices on materials. And once you pick one of those materials, you won’t have any more detailed options such as tread patterns and styles, post ornaments, or any other decorative options.

Dealing with a quality manufacturer will not only give you a broader range of options in terms of materials choices, it will also give you a broad range of options in terms of each individual component. Plus dealing with a manufacturer may give you the choice of add-ons not available at all with pre-made hardware store kits.

So you can see that once you take a closer look at what a hardware store spiral stair really offers for the price, it is worth the slightly higher price point for a quality custom spiral stair from a quality manufacturer. Each of the above factors, if you choose the more quality option, may entail a slight price bump, but if you want your stair to last, pay for itself in the long run, and be able to act as an aesthetic focal point in your space, you’ll discover that the slightly elevated price is worth the investment.

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