In an August 2018 online survey, almost 500 consumers voiced their preferences for specific details related to the stair systems in their homes. Given the choice, the majority of respondents— who are predominantly located in the Northeast and Midwest— prefer natural wood grain stained balusters and straight stair systems with over-the-post hand rails.


The survey, conducted by, shows that 60 percent of respondents preferred an over-the-post handrail that runs over the newel posts with the use of handrail fittings as opposed to post-to-post systems where the hand rail runs between newel posts. 55 percent of survey participants would choose a straight stair system for a new home as opposed to 45 percent selecting a curved stair system.


“These survey results reinforce the regional stair system preferences we’re seeing in today’s marketplace for consumers,” says Craig Kurtz, president of L.J. Smith Stair Systems. “It’s interesting for us to see that it’s almost a split preference for curved and straight stair systems.


"Given a choice, I think we always believed people would select a sweeping curved stair system for its elegance. However, this survey shows that consumers are just as enamored with a curved stair system as with a straight system.”


Beautiful Balusters

According to the regional survey results, when offered a selection of five different balusters, exactly 50 percent of respondents chose natural wood grained balusters for their home’s preference. Painted wood balusters were ranked as a second choice with 19 percent and metal balusters came in close behind with 17 percent of respondents.


Two other balustrade options— mixing metals with wood and all metal balustrades— came in lower on the list with nine and five percent respectively.


“Wood grain balusters have been popular with homeowners in these geographic markets for decades,” says Kurtz. “However metal balusters, and using a pattern of coordinated metal and wood balusters, are definitely gaining in popularity. These last two are newer options in the marketplace. Their appeal is already growing in other areas of the country and we expect their appeal to also grow steadily in these markets in the coming years.”


Bringing Consumers What They Want

L.J. Smith Stair Systems offers an abundance of stair options to meet a range of design styles. Innovative offerings from the company include ornamental iron collections, bending rails, custom capabilities, and the selection of 14 standard wood species for the company’s products.


“We appreciate the insights provided in this survey as a benchmark for consumer interest in stair systems for these two regions,” says Kurtz. “The Ask the Builder e-newsletter subscribers who participated in the survey have a strong affinity toward home improvement and lifestyle areas in their lives. The feedback from them will help us continue to develop on-trend products to meet the needs of consumers.


“A big take-away from this survey is that for many respondents the ideal staircase would be straight with natural wood grain stained balusters and over-the-post handrails. That’s a beautiful combination that would look great in a variety of different home styles.”