Design Tips and Trends

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5 Reasons To Choose Oak: Recommendations From a Sacramento Staircase Contractor

If you’re planning a home renovation project, particularly, one that involves installing a new staircase, using oak provides a good number of benefits that other materials don’t quite offer.

From Sacramento staircase contractor iStairs, Inc., here are five reasons why you should consider using oak for your new staircase:

Attractive Appearance

Oak instantly adds character to your home with its rich color, elegant texture, and distinctive material.

It has quite an attractive wood grain, especially if it is quarter-sawn, make it a top choice among carpenters and homebuilders alike.

Strength and Durability

Oak is known for its strength, its resistance to moisture, and its durability.

It’s one of the densest naturally occurring materials, making it one of the most in-demand hardwoods in the woodwork industry.

The sturdy oak has a high tolerance to the stresses brought on by weather conditions in California, even as it changes from season to season.

Furthermore, oak contains a high amount of tannin, which makes it naturally resistant to insects and fungus alike.

Using oak for your staircase (as well as your support beams and foundations) is a sensible choice. Older homes and structures built from oak are still standing many years, decades, or even centuries later.

The oak itself gets stronger and a lot more resilient the older it becomes.

Readily available in Sacramento

There are about 600 species of oak all around the world, but California’s own Sacramento valley is particularly known for its native oak trees.

According to the Sacramento tree foundation, the three most common varieties of oak are:

  • The valley oak, which is the largest tree in Sacramento Valley.
  • The interior live oak, which is the most common evergreen oak tree in the valley.
  • The blue oak, which is the most common of all our oak trees.

There are other species of oak growing in and around Sacramento, and each species of oak is used differently because of their varying attributes.

iStairs says oak staircase parts and custom installations are at the top of the list of projects they typically handle as stair contractors.

They usually work with a fairly diverse selection of other oak wood materials as well — the natural brown oak wood, the stripy tiger oak wood, the cat’s paw pippy oak, burr oak wood, and the rare bog oak wood

Oak is Sustainable

Despite it being so common in the Sacramento Valley, we support efforts to use oak responsibly and sustainably.

Oak is classified as a premium material, and its price is largely dictated by the regulated supply in the building industry so we don’t use too much oak timber faster than we can regrow oak trees.

As such, oak is used in homebuilding as showcase pieces– in situations or home projects where the finished oak structure can be cherished and fully appreciated.

Oak is an Environmentally-Friendly Option

Oaks generally don’t require large amounts of fossil fuel to produce, nor do they require much industrial processing or chemical treatments. (Unlike brick or concrete, for example, which does go through a lot of industrial processing.)

As trees, oaks spend their entire lives absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. The carbon captured from the atmosphere is bound into the fibers of these oaks for hundreds of years. And even as you chop down a tree and build a house out of it, the carbon remains within the material permanently.

Also, oak requires little maintenance, so its cost, in the long run, is relatively much lower. All it requires is a bit of cleaning and polishing now and then, and you can count on its natural beauty to last for many years to come.

About Sacramento Staircase Contractor iStairs, Inc.

iStairs, Inc. is your one-stop shop for residential staircase finish carpentry. Ask about our stock availability for oak wood and more details on our custom stair installations.

Whether you’d prefer to do-it-yourself or have us design and install your stairs for you, we can work on just about any staircase project you have in mind.

iStairs has been proudly serving communities across Northern California, with a showroom to accommodate inquiries and appointments. Give the iStairs team a call today at 844-STAIR-4U or 916.853.1499.


A quick guide to painting your stairs

Painting your beloved stairs can be nerve-wracking and fun at the same time. It is fun because you can breathe new life out into an old staircase and nerve-wracking because anything can go bad starting with removing the old paint and discovering some secrets that lighting and old paint hid from you over the years.

So, here is some quick fix on how you can transform your staircase:

1.    Clean, clean, clean

Before you start painting your staircase, be sure to clean the area thoroughly. Having lumps and bumps on your staircase when you apply the first coat of paint will not make the task easier for you. 

Be sure to remove dust that has settled over the years on the corners of the steps, spider webs that have been comfortable sitting under your levels. 

2.    Peal old paint

This task is tedious. It will require you a lot of hours to do. You will scrape and even out surfaces, so it is well prepped for the first coating of your paint.

When you start peeling the paint of your old stairs, be careful not to harm the wood of your stairs. Often, when individuals want to speed up the process, they forget to be gentle on the material of their stairs, hence leaving more problems. 

Some homeowners are shocked to learn that they have to even out the surface of their stairs with sandpaper. If at this point you feel the need to call a professional to help you with the redesign you really want, you can call iStairs for an extra hand to help you execute your new plans.

3.    Choose the correct paint

All stairs are composed of different materials. Some are made from hardwood, others from steel, and there are combinations too. That said, some paints are not compatible with the material of your stairs, be sure to purchase paint that will blend well with your beloved centerpiece.

4.    Paint like a pro

There are several ways to paint stairs. There is spraying, and there is brushing, end there are rolls too. When decorating your stairs, use the method you are most comfortable with and most natural for you to manage. 

Do not attempt to spray paint your stairs if you cannot assert the thickness that you need for the area or if you have a “heavy hand.” Chances are, your stairs will have uneven hues; some areas too dark, other too light. 

5.    Bring in the experts

With years of experience under our belts your stairs will be looking new in no time. Our team can help you during your remodel.

For more details about the services we offer, do not hesitate to reach us or give us a call. Our staff would be glad to assist you.

Cost and Staircases: Choosing the Best Staircase for your Space

A lot of us want a functional, elegant, and even a show stopping staircase to top off our dream homes. However, grad staircases or designer stairs are not too friendly to the pockets. But we do not want to compromise aesthetics and quality, so here are some tips to consider when getting yourself a budget friendly yet pretty stairs.

  1. Room Space
    The key word is efficiency. Often times we either overestimate or underestimate the space allotted for our stairs. Because of this, we end up buying more materials than we can actually use. The same goes for under estimating, construction items are cheaper when bought by bulk, retailing the parts when a bolt is missing will cost the homeowners more. Look up the designs for curved flight of steps while this design does not complete the circle because of the radial space it requires, this design speaks of romance and grandeur.
  2. Design
    The complexity of a staircase is a factor to consider when shopping for one. A spiral stairs that goes around three times is more expensive than a staircase that only curves twice. The same goes for the details that would go with the hand railings. If you’d like Victorian style handrails, expect a quote made for the queen and a prize meant for the treasury of a king. Choose designs that are presentable and affordable.  You can check the Straight Stairway. This type of stairs provides a non-complex yet functional design to a home. This model works best with minimalists and can become a favorite photo spot for your guests.
  3. Materials
    Often times, people think that a steel staircase would be more expensive than those made of wood. This is not always the case because there are imported woods like the ones from the Narra tree in the Philippines that promises strength and longevity but may require breaking a bank if you’d like one for your house. For us who work under a budget, it would be best to survey the available materials first before deciding on a popular choice. Maybe you’d like to see some metal spiral stairs. This is best for homes that have limited spaces and is easy to install. This choice radiates fun and is relaxed aura- perfect for your personal turf.
  4. Labor
    Installing stairs can take days or even weeks depending on size and design complexity. For budget conscious buyers, checking for the number of days required to complete the stairs would extremely help the decision making process and planning of the project. Carpenters sometimes require an hourly rate or daily rate which can range between 50$ per hour to 75$ per hour. A  U- shaped Stairwell is composed of two L-shaped stair that requires a 180 degree turn in the landing. This is a complex design that can build interest among your guests. This is finest placed in a corner of the room to emphasize the shape. It can take some days to finish this beauty.

Tips for remodeling your staircase while on a budget

There are a number of good reasons why homeowners will choose to remodel their stairs, be it to spruce up the interior of the home before putting in on the market, to modernize the design of the home, or simply to make repairs on an aging or damaged set of stairs.

While each staircase situation is unique So whatever the reason may be that you have decided to remodel your staircase, let’s take a look at some tips that will help you save money and plan your staircase remodel on a budget!

    1. Determine if any of the staircase components can be savedBased on the condition and continued functionality of the staircase component, there are many parts of the staircase that could be salvaged during a remodel. The newel posts, tread caps, and handrail are often components of the staircase that don’t need to be completely replaced during a remodel. Instead, focus on replacing the balusters if you are to replace something on the staircase, as they take up most of the visual impact of the staircase in general.
    2. Improve appearance of existing staircase parts with paints and/or stains
      Simply with an updated shade of paint or for example, painting the balustrades white and staining the newels posts, landing caps and handrail a darker color, you can dramatically makeover the appearance of your entire staircase, without spending an arm and a leg.
    3. Upgrade lighting and tread features to give staircase inexpensive makeover
      You’d be surprised by the dynamic change that can take place with a little improvement in lighting and the tread features of your staircase. By simply enhancing the lighting around the staircase say through better placement of light fixtures for visibility purposes, or even using LED lighting systems, not only will your staircase become more functional and safer to use, it will also become a focal point of design for your home.
    4. Take advantage of overstock items from staircase companies
      If you are fortunate enough to be in the market at the right time, you can often find discounted staircase parts for your remodel from companies who have them in overstock. Staircase companies may have overstock items for a variety of reasons, so if you can find the parts or supplies at discounted price due to overstock, it’s always in your best interest to take advantage of these options.
    5.  Be smart and patient with your decisions for your staircase remodel and don’t jump into a quick fix you might later regret
      While time may be of the essence if you are planning on moving or need to start repairs on an old staircase, sometimes it’s in your best interest to be patient with your options when you’re remodeling your staircase on a budget. Primarily, this is because it’s best to wait a little longer to find the exact staircase remodeling option that meets the needs of the goals you have for your home, without compromising to safe a few bucks.
      If you really want to save money and invest in the smartest staircase remodel for your home, it’s in your best interest to consult with a professional staircase company who has experience with a multitude of different staircase remodeling projects, even those of which are operating on a budget.

If you can’t move, then it’s time to improve!

Have you been thinking about moving to a new home because your current house is in need of a few updates or improvements, but putting your house on the market right now doesn’t sound very appealing? Well, there’s no need to move just yet if you can make improvements to your home and increase its overall value so that when you are finally ready to sell, you can thank yourself all over again for the improvements you decided to make today!

But why make the same old, run-of-the mill home improvements that everyone else makes when you can update a feature of your home that is already a central part of your home’s design? Why not improve upon the appearance of your staircase as a way of updating your house this summer! Below we have compiled a short and simple list of ideas that you can use to improve the interior design of your home by way of your staircase.

While a complete staircase replacement is always an option with professional companies like iStairs, here are some elements of your staircase that you should consider updating when looking to improve your home this summer:

  • Paint or stain your staircase: Never underestimate how much of an impact a fresh coat of paint or wood stain can have on a staircase, but remember that you must consider the characteristics of your staircase when choosing which finish type is best. For example, aluminum and stainless steel staircases can be finished with powder coat finishes or even be amplified with a unique glass bead blasted look. And while there are a number of choices to pick from when staining your wooden staircases, some of the common options are oil, epoxy, stains, and polyurethane finishes, the last of which is used to seal the stairs from damage.
  • Update the balustrade: The balustrade is the vertical posts which support the railing of a staircase, and the balusters are the individual posts themselves which can be designed/shaped in a variety of different styles. Whether the balustrade is made of metal or wood, replacing old balusters or outdated spindles with more modernly styled balusters can instantly refresh the look and feel of your staircase as a whole.
  • Remove carpet for more natural appeal: If for example you have a traditional, old wooden style banister with carpeted stairs, one way of improving your staircase would be, in addition to painting and staining the stair railing more of a modern color, to remove the outdated carpet and even paint or stain the underlying treads as well. For safety purposes, if you have elderly people or children in your home who use the stairs, it’s always a good idea to consider installing some type of rubber non-slip grips on the edges of the tread. Another idea is to find a stylish runner to have along the middle of the stairs right on top of the treads, instead of carpet as well. Moreover, a runner actually serves multiple purposes, including safety and style enhancement and noise reduction

If however you are partial to the idea of carpet on your stairs, you can at least consider sprucing up your staircase with a newer, more modern type of carpet on your stairs.

So there’s no need to worry about putting your house on the market when you can start to make valuable and attractive improvements to your home today! And why not give your staircase a second chance with some much needed improvements this summer?

How a custom staircase can makeover your home

Staircases are one of the most versatile pieces of your home’s structure. In some spaces, they are the showcases of a grand entrance hall. In others, they are simply a required element in the home that blends into the rest of the house.

No matter how you incorporate your staircase’s design, you want it to enhance your home. There are a few things to think about when it comes to custom staircases.

Space: When you decide to build a custom staircase, you first have to look at the space that is available to you. If you have a small area, a spiral staircase might be your best bet. If you have a large front entry you have a lot more space to be able to put wide stairs with a number of different types of railings for effect. Having a spiral staircase in the corner of a small room can add texture where a blank corner would have just looked drab and empty.

Access: After determining the space allowance for your stairs, you need to look at the access to your stairs. In smaller access areas, you aren’t going to want huge banisters that make it difficult to maneuver around. You will need to go with something sleek and more minimalistic to fit in the area allowed. Again if you have a small access area, going with no railing might be an option to open up the access area. There are lots of different ways to design around your access point. Adding flair and paying attention to detail in your access points can really make your staircase a true focal point. Especially if you have a large access point, having a large staircase with an impressive banister can open the area up and really draw your eyes to your staircase.

Material and Design: When deciding what type of material and design you want for your stairs, it is wise to look around and figure out what the design of the rest of your house is and fit your custom staircase into that design scheme. If you have a country style house, you aren’t going to want an intricate metal railing. You would want to go more with a wooden type banister to fit in with the rest of the wood in your house. If your house is more modern there is a large variety of new designs and colors available to truly customize your stairs to your surroundings and your personality. This is where you can truly make the area of your house with your staircase a showstopper. There are so many different materials available these days, and the designs are endless when customizing.

Economic: Staircases can range from the low end of cost with DIY pre-fabricated kits, to very high-end expensive hand crafted. Being aware of your budget and what you are able to afford will help determine what material and design you will use for your custom staircase. If you choose the DIY route, be aware that if anything breaks it is up to you to fix it. Most staircase companies offer some type of warranty. This can be very helpful in the future if something breaks or is not how it was intended to be.

Versatility: Staircases can be used for more that just walking from one floor of a house to another. Staircases can be transformed into bookshelves, or moveable walls that lead to hidden rooms. You can cut a hole in your floor and add a spiral staircase tucked away in the corner that leads down to a wine cellar, or basement when there is limited space available for a larger staircase.

There are many different design options available when customizing your staircase that allow you to create a beautiful stair that you would be proud to show off.

Top traits of modern railing systems

A beautiful staircase has the potential of becoming a stunning focal point in any home. In fact, the staircase is an accent piece by nature. It has been an eye-catching element from the beginning and, as its design evolved over the years, its status never changed. In fact, it became more and more important and interior designers have made it the star of many of their projects.

A beautiful staircase is defined by several different aspects. The design is, of course, very important. But, most often, it’s the handrail that makes it stand out. The handrail has gradually transformed from a simple element designed to provide safety and protection to a wonderful and chic design detail. In the new modern design it does goes without says that less is more when designing your railing. Minimalistic designs can still be chic and provide an elegant focal point. Many modern staircase railing designs incorporate industrial materials such as glass and steel. Simple color palettes, open spaces, and geometric elements are common modern design aspects as well.

Using a modern stainless steel handrail system, that can compliment free-standing stairs, can be very beneficial if you have a small living space. Using this open riser construction concept can allow unobstructed vies across your space. The steel bars can also allow additional openness and add to your space’s modern appeal.

Another option for free-standing stairs is to have a sleek glass railing that is of course designed and constructed for ultimate safety and quality. Using glass can further open your space and help to make your space appear larger than it really is.

Using a cable rail is an excellent way to accent a straight stair. These unique staircase systems can include a combination of open and closed risers, with the upper segment open and transitioning to closed risers below. The parallel lines of the stainless steel cable railing offer a simple contemporary look.

The staircase is also a design element that provides you with the opportunity to add an artistic touch to the décor. Even though they are quite rare, staircases that are entirely made of metal can be an interesting focal point. They usually have an industrial-inspired look. You would want to make sure that the rest of your house was designed in the same fashion so your staircase doesn’t look random and like it doesn’t belong in the space.

A very common combination in the case of modern staircases is that between wood and metal. That’s because the resulting design is usually somewhere between classical and contemporary. If you are remodeling and want to do something new to your staircase, this is the easiest option. Tearing out a railing but keeping wood stairs is an inexpensive option to turn an old staircase into something breathtaking. Wood staircases can easily be stained or painted to match the rest of the house, while the railing can be torn out and changed to add some personality to your staircase.

Whatever you decide to do to your staircase, make sure that it includes your personality and flair, because you will be looking at it everyday!

Coastal Stair Trends

Perfect stairs for coastal living

Why does everybody want to live on the coast? Do people go for the relaxation, the beautiful views, the sound of the waves crashing? Maybe everybody goes for a healthy dose of Vitamin D. It could be the warm days and cool nights or just so that you can always take a nice walk with the sand in between your toes. Some people go for the seafood; others live there to take their boat out on the ocean, etc, etc. The point is that there are a plethora of reasons that bring people from all across the world to live by the ocean, and we’re here to help maximize the living experience. So many people give an arm and a leg to live on the coast, but end up in a house or apartment that takes away from the beach style. So we figured we would share with you a few stair styles that help to aggrandize coastal home style while matching the ocean attitude.

Floating Stairs

One of the most popular options for beach houses is Open Riser or “Floating” Stairs. Without fully closing off a stairwell, you allow the light from both floors to permeate the house giving a natural glow. It also helps make smaller rooms appear larger and give you more space to work with under the stairs, instead of just a closet to stick the boogey boards in. A popular decision is going with the floating stairs in a polished wood to match the walk down the beach, minus the possible splinters. They also match the ocean attitude of having a free and open feel. Not only is it one of the rising trends in modern architecture, but also a smart financial decision in the long run that allows the house to get brighter from natural light. Natural light is 100% cheaper than artificial light, and let’s be honest, it is one of the reasons you moved to the beach anyway.

Trick Out The Tread

The stair tread is one of the most important factors of in home design that often gets overlooked. Some homes go with a Spanish style by the sea, but still have carpeted stairs. Like the capstone over an arch, many stair styles can complete the interior design by putting tiles in the risers or ropes lining the turnout. Glass tread or higher end canvas liner can be the key to whatever style or attitude you are going with.

Ride The Rails

Another cherry on top of the sundae is the handrail. One of our favorite options that remain cost effective is using thick rope attached to the wall at different intervals. It is a beautiful accessory to the beach feel that won’t carve too much out of your wallet. If you’re willing and prepared to spend a little more, glass panels topped with polished wood is another increasingly stylish addition, especially to the floating stairs that contributes to the open feel of the coastal home while giving you that sense of security walking up the stairs.

The fact of the matter is that the staircase is an essential part of interior design and can make or break the feel of your expensive beach house. It is truly an opportunity to think outside the box, and thanks to modern trends, there are plenty of ways to trick out your stairs to compliment and complete your coastal casa.

Why you should have open riser stairs

As stated by the infamous architect and industrial designer Marcel Breuer, “Modern architecture is not a style, it’s an attitude.” As modern style is evolving, Open Riser Staircases are becoming one of the most increasingly popular designs, so without further adieu, here is a few things you will love about the attitude they bring with them.

Open Things Up a Little Bit

Modern style has always favored making the most of whatever space is available. Open riser stairs or “floating stairs” give you a whole new area to work with while eliminating the “cupboard under the stairs” that we all used to fill with Christmas decorations and food storage. You end up moving from a boxy and closed-off appearance to a seamless design where one room morphs into another while also providing some more area to decorate. Favoring a more minimalist style, the floating stairs make smaller rooms appear bigger and give you another zone to work with, adding space for a couch, coffee table, desk, or maybe you are somebody that just will not let go of the ficus.

Brighten It Up

The seamless design that the open riser stairs come with, also offers unique benefits with the utilization of natural light. From a design perspective, natural light is…well…natural. May sound redundant, but everything ends up in it’s truest color when it is exposed to natural daylight. For example, tomatoes score a 65 on the CRI (Color Rendering Index) in artificial light, while under natural daylight tomatoes attain a maximum of 100 on the CRI. Open Riser Stairs allow the upstairs and downstairs to flow together and permit more light to penetrate either floor. And to those of you who do not care as much how bright your tomatoes look, natural light is free light. It will cost 100% less to brighten your home up along with helping the environment. They will basically give you another reason to pat yourself on the back for helping the planet without having to go outside and hug a tree or drive a Prius. If you do all three then you can just pat yourself on the back with two hands.

Less Is More

How many times have you seen floating stairs and thought, “wow that’s ugly.” Never. And if you did…then you probably have something better to do than read an article on Open Riser Stairs. Nevertheless, it is a sleek design that has enhanced the style of modern culture from Jaguar Commercials to Edna Mode’s house in The Incredibles. It doesn’t dominate its space, buts fits in just like that last puzzle piece, giving ring to the ever true design motto that less is more.

The ever present con that everyone worries about is “will it be safe for my kids.” Of course your kids can get hurt on them, but they can also get hurt on any other staircase. So in other words, it is pretty much the same idea for all stairs from the Mayan Temples in Chiapas, Mexico to the ones in your house; do not fall down on them.

Best Ways to Spruce Up your Sacramento Stairs

Spring is a great time for fresh new starts. Flowers are blooming, the days get longer, and the smell of a new season freshens the air. Many people adopt the custom of spring cleaning to give their home a fresh new start for the warmer weather, but why stop there? One of the quickest, but often forgotten, ways to really give the interior or exterior of your home a revived look, is to remodel your home’s staircase.

Some homeowners have the misconception that remodeling a staircase requires too much time, effort and money and ends up not being worth it, but this is just not the case. iStairs knows bay area homes well and specializes in remodeling quickly and efficiently, so that your business or home does not experience any extended period of inconvenience. Instead, you get to enjoy your spring with a fresh, modern vibe that can bring a new energy to your space.

The following are some popular spring options for new staircases.


Beech is a white hardwood that often has a slight reddish tint to it. This is a popular option because of its light color and versatility. This wood usually has a consistent grain and this option can hold a stain very well. If in a couple years you make a furniture or flooring change and decide that your Sacramento stairs would match better if they were a completely different color; the beech wood would be very simple to restain and keep meeting your exact needs.


Maple is a popular choice due to its high durability. This is a beautiful hardwood that has a naturally closed grain. In the springtime many people opt for the maple staircases because they look best with just a clear coat to show off the natural highlights of the wood. This wood does not require much additional work to look its best. If you do plan on staining the owod a specific color, be aware that maple will require some patience. It sometimes absorbs stains unevenly, which can be discouraging.


Oak comes in many different varieties, but any of them are great, classic options. Oak has been a popular choice for staircases for centuries mostly because of its strength and dependability. However, something else to consider when making this choice in the bay area is that oak has a natural ability to protect against insects and fungus. The high tannin content in oak woods make them naturally resistant to common pests in this area. This makes oak an especially great option if you are looking to renovate your outdoor staircase that will be more exposed to unwanted insects.


Cherrywood is a very elegant wood that can make your home or business look a lot classier this spring. The dark red hue is a very rich color that deepens over time. This stylish wood naturally has a smooth texture that is simple to maintain and does not require a great amount of upkeep. You should know that the deep color is sometimes difficult to stain, but looks amazing with just a clear coat.