At the start of the a-frame project I requested a price quote for cable railing from a local building supplier because I knew that was the direction we were going with the stair railing. The quote I got back was about $3,000 for just the cable rail and accessories, after that you would need to add in cost for either pressure treated wood newel posts or cedar and labor for construction and installation. The supplier quoted two different cable rail systems and the second was more expensive than the first. So for budgetary reasons at this project, I wanted to come up with an alternative. A substitute that would not mean that I had to compromise the look I wanted to achieve.
Galvanized piping, electrical conduit or powder coated piping used as a part of interior and exterior railing was a concept I was a little familiar with prior to renovating the a-frame but I hadn’t really dug in on exactly how the concept was actually executed. I thought it might be a great option because of affordability, it introduced the metal element much like cable rail and it was consistent with the modern look I was striving for.
After several conversations with one of our carpenters, Thomas Clark, we settled on 3/4″ galvanized electrical conduit. I really wanted 1/2″ conduit but Thomas had concerns about durability. So based on his recommendation, we shortened the horizontal runs of conduit to 3′ between newel posts and installed 3/4″ conduit. This is what electrical conduit looks like,
After trips to two different Lowe’s stores, we purchased our conduit in 10 foot long “sticks” at our local electrical supply, City Electric in Southern Pines. They were about $5.30 per stick.
We ordered 4×4 fir newel posts for our interior railings and pressure treated pine for our exterior railings.
I wanted to keep it simple in design, so our carpenter made simple post caps to go on top of the newel posts. At first I intended to paint the fir posts but not the handrails. White handrails just end up looking dirty from all the hands using them. After some thought I left both the handrails and newel posts natural to add some warmth and contrast to our bright, white modern space.
Here’s the pressure treated pine and piping combo on the front of the house,
It’s time to apply some stain and we are just about complete on the exterior.