Wood Newels

What are wood newels?

Wood newels are used primarily as part of a staircase along with balusters/wood spindles, finials, rails, and often, wood columns. They are posts that provide upright support for a handrail at the bottom and top of a staircase. They can also be positioned along the length of a rail and where staircases change direction. These newels have a primary purpose of structural support, though they are typically decorative to varying degrees.

Wood newels can significantly accent the architectural style of a home. While they are usually found as part of a staircase, they can also be used as supports for a deck railing or specific entryways. Finials rest on top of the newel posts and can have a straightforward, clean design or something as elaborate as a pineapple as the design.

The before and after photo on the right shows a project where we made custom wood newels for a renovation. We provided the perfect product to fit the customer’s unique application when a standard, off-the-shelf item did not work.

What is a good interior paint-grade wood for wood newels?

Paint-grade wood typically suggests the cheapest wood, since you will cover it. Many people think pine is a good choice for this purpose. Clear pine is more expensive than many hardwoods and the knots and pitch lines start to show within a few months to a few years, regardless of surface preparation and priming. Poplar is probably the most common paint-grade wood for interiors, as it is cost-effective, machines well, and takes a finish nicely. In high-traffic areas, soft maple might be a good choice since it is about 40% harder than poplar.

Common Sizes

Square or box newels are typically made with decorative moldings used to cover the structural support and topped with a shaped or turned cap. Round newels are generally made from solid stock. They have square sections of the length at the bottom for mounting into the stairs and towards the top where the rail is attached. Diameters of newels can range from 3 ½” –  10+” for larger staircases. Lengths are usually 48” – 60”, depending on the style and installation method.

Common Species

Species used for interior paint grade newels are often poplar or soft maple. For stain-grade wooden newels, it can be whatever you desire to match treads or décor. Exterior newels are frequently done in cedar or mahogany for durability.

Who We Are

When you work with H.A. Stiles on your project, custom newel posts can be ordered with the other stair/deck parts. We can reproduce a broken or missing piece or work with you to design a new piece.

Simply send a reference photo of a newel you’d like to replicate or talk with one of our specialists to find the best custom fit for you. We would be happy to discuss your options and certainly feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.