Milwaukee, WI (Vocus) November 5, 2009
Many homeowners take stock of home projects and consider remodeling in autumn, according to members of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (Milwaukee/NARI), the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 48 years.
Milwuakee/NARI members say there’s more to remodeling a home than the kitchen and bathroom. They offer new products and tips for updating staircases, outdoor railings, gates, or fences.
According to Dave Wilde, vice president of Joe Wilde Company, Inc. in Waukesha, business owners and homeowners can install outdoor railings, fences, and gates year-round, if it’s being done into concrete. “If installing into the ground, this is best done before the ground begins to freeze, so early fall can be an optimum time.”
Wilde says that there are a number of product options available, including 10 different color choices and three picket designs, as well as options for decorative scrolls and inserts.
"Gates can be added and equipped with either standard or custom security locks,” he adds.
Homeowners can take comfort in the maintenance-free finish. Wilde reassures, “Because the material we install is aluminum with a baked-on enamel finish, it is completely maintenance free and will not rust or need painting.”
Badger Fence, located in Milwaukee, is a full-service fence company, installing chain link, colored chain link, cedar, PVC, and ornamental fencing for more than 60 years. “The trends in the industry are going away from chain link, to aluminum alloy product,” says Tom Robinette, vice president. “It looks like rod iron, but it is maintenance free and never needs to be painted.”
He adds, “Composite material is a new product that has been used for decks.” Badger Fence is waiting to ensure that composite material proves to be a solid product, however, before using it for fencing.
There are several code requirements for staircases inside and outside the home, put in place for safety reasons. However, many homeowners are “grandfathered-in” when they move into an older home, meaning they aren’t required to comply with the codes unless they make changes to their staircases.
Code requirements may differ based on location, so Milwaukee/NARI members suggest that homeowners talk with a professional Remodeler about updating their staircases.
“Railing heights are higher now, and anything four inches in size shouldn’t fit between balustrades,” says Mark Grooms of Grooms Custom Remodeling, LLC in New Berlin. The handrail must be 30 to 38 inches above the nose of the stair, and openings below the top rail must be small enough to prevent the passage of an object more than four inches in diameter...
In addition to complying with code, other reasons to consider remodeling a staircase are appearance and correcting problems.
“Sometimes you’ve got cracked stair treads, risers sliding out of place, or loose newel posts,” Grooms says. “Just changing the newels, handrails, and balusters will give you a whole new look.”
"Want to make a big impression?" asks Pam Courtney of Western Building Products in Milwaukee. She says that grand staircases are distinct and prominent – and can adapt to nearly any home style.
“Staircases are popular with homeowners looking to customize a foyer or great room,” she says. “One popular hardwood style is art deco, with its soft curves and elongated tapers.” Some of the more exotic wood choices available are Brazilian cherry and Australian cypress.
“Builders and architects are incorporating Old World style into contemporary homes with forged iron balusters.” She adds, “More of them are now turning to hollow-core iron baluster systems, which reduces weight while maintaining strength and allowing for faster cutting and quicker installation.”
According to Courtney, finishing options available for forged iron balusters include matte black, antique bronze, and satin black. “Oil-rubbed copper and antique finishes lend a more subtle look.”
Kim Larson of Wood Specialties, Inc. in Menomonee Falls says that the product options for staircases are endless. “What’s really popular are iron balusters, as well as wood,” she explains. “Some people are going with iron and wood combinations. It contributes to a French country or rustic look in the home.”
Another combination she points out is a painted and stained handrail and baluster system. Overall, more modern and contemporary ideas are becoming prevalent. “We’re seeing cleaner lines now. I’ve even come across designs where you see the cable rail.”
Larson says that custom box newel posts are becoming more popular. “People are adding their own flair to it. They want to customize it – to have something that makes a statement.”
The most common wood species are still being used – oak, maple, and birch, which are the most cost effective. “We also are using mahogany, cherry, and more. The sky’s the limit! It usually all depends on budget.”
According to Larson, the maintenance requirements she sees (if any) are the results of rambunctious children. “If the kids treat the rail system as a jungle gym, you might have a problem down the road,” she says. Iron rails are put in place with epoxy, and enough roughhousing might require them to be redone.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 900 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call (414) 771-4071 or visit the Council’s Web site at http://www.milwaukeenari.org.