Updated: May 2
So you want to update your indoor railings. We're here to help you make the process easier. Installing railings is a very specialized skill. Each railing installation company operates differently.
Depending on their policies, you may or may not be able to supply your own material. Most home improvement chain stores sell railing materials. You can find most basic posts, balusters, and cable railing systems.
Going to a local home improvement store to get railing material may seem appealing and like not a big deal. But most railing installation companies will not install material they did not purchase themselves. The main reason for this is quality. Most chain stores do not stock high-quality, long-lasting stair parts.
Here are some common differences between store-bought versus professional railing materials:
Newels, also called Posts might have a very thin piece of wood as the outer layer, that can crack. If you were to look at the bottom of the newel, the inside is filled with miscellaneous wood and the outer layer is a thin covering of wood. While this is standard, the thickness of the outer layer needs to be significant to ensure the durability of the post/newel.
Another issue is the handrail quality. The handrail is usually glued together from pieces of wood, in a horizontal configuration. When you have cheaper material, the finger joints are visible. Thus, the quality of the railing itself is also compromised.
The iron metal balusters that are found at most chain stores have a coating that does not hold up well with time. The items sold as stainless steel are often not solid stainless and the outer coating can be paper-thin and peel easily.
This is why railing installation companies do not want to install material they did not purchase themselves. They cannot attest to the quality & durability of materials they are not familiar with.
While not all chain store stair material is "bad" or lacking quality, it's best to speak to a professional railing installation company first before buying material.
A good quality railing installer will have a few vendors they have been using for years for their railing materials. If pricing is an issue, you can discuss how much you want to spend, and get quotes that fit your style and budget.
This will save time and money in the long run. You won't have to worry about chipping metal or railing bending. If you have issues you can always go back to the railing company to address them and rectify them. This peace of mind is worth the few extra bucks you will spend for better-quality material.