Designing an oak and glass staircase | What you need to consider

The combination of oak and glass in a staircase will create a sophisticated and uncluttered finish, which is perfect for both contemporary interiors and more traditional designs. When designing the ideal oak and glass staircase for you, here at Jackson Woodturners, there are many options available. It is possible to choose from a variety of handrail and glass panel finishes, to guarantee your new staircase becomes the perfect feature.

We understand there are many options available and also factors to consider during the process of designing an oak and glass staircase. These factors include whether to use a grooved or ungrooved handrail, what style of glass panel to use and what is needed to fit the stair parts. This article will provide you with the insight you need to start designing the perfect oak and glass staircase.

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Read about the benefits of combining oak and glass, including practical benefits and aesthetic benefits.

Find out what different parts are needed for putting together an oak and glass staircase.

Read our guide to fitting oak and glass stair parts.

Find out how you can keep your oak and glass staircase looking its best.

We ask Claire Armstrong-Gautier, lead designer at My Bespoke Room for her tips on designing an oak and glass staircase.

The benefits of combining oak and glass

The combination of oak and glass will provide a unique addition to your home, and there are many benefits when using these materials. For example, many people opt for oak as it is such a strong hardwood, which means it is extremely sturdy and will resist dents and scratches. It is also known for its distinctive natural stripe, which adds warmth and character. This natural finish can be varnished to enhance the tones of the wood or stained and painted to create a more individual finish. A solid oak staircase will be more expensive than other timbers; however, it is a high-quality material which will set the tone for the entire property and create a luxurious feel for many years to come.

The benefits of using oak are widely known, with the addition of glass also providing many benefits. Incorporating glass into a staircase is a less traditional option; however, it will instantly create an illusion of more space, providing a modern, stylish finish that will perfectly complement more contemporary interiors. If you are completing a staircase renovation and are looking to instantly update an existing staircase, adding glass balustrades or glass panels will instantly create more light and a feeling of openness.

In addition to the design benefits, toughened glass is also very safe and secure, providing a durable option. Although the panels will need cleaning to maintain their finish, they are easy to keep clean, and maintenance is minimal.

wooden staircase with glass railings

What parts do you need for designing an oak and wood staircase?

Combining glass into an oak staircase design is a great way to create a statement, and there are many parts available, which will allow you to create a modern or more traditional theme.

Glass panels

Glass panels can be used to provide the vertical infill between the handrail and base rail, instead of more traditional spindles. Our range includes panels with a variety of sizes, from 80mm up to 300mm, and it is also possible to choose from straight and curved edges. For a sleek finish, the large straight edge panels are a great option, or if you are looking to create a more detailed design, opt for the curved finishes.

In terms of panel thickness, typically panels will be between 8mm and 10mm thick. The thickness you require depends on the groove thickness within your handrail and base rail, or the thickness of the glass clamps.

You can shop our full range of glass panels here.

Handrails - grooved or ungrooved

When designing an oak and glass staircase, it is possible to choose a glass grooved or an ungrooved handrail. An ungrooved handrail is designed to be used with glass clamps, which will hold the glass panels in place. In contrast, a glass grooved handrail features a groove which allows the panels to be slotted straight into the infill.

Explore our full range of grooved and ungrooved handrails here.

Base rails

Before purchasing a base rail, you will need to consider the design of the glass panels and the handrail. If you do not want to use glass clamps, you will need to choose a base rail with a groove for the glass panels to slot into.

Shop our full range of base rails here.

Glass clamps

Glass clamps are the most popular option for combining glass panels within a wooden staircase design. These are used when a panel needs to be held between an ungrooved handrail and base rail, and there are a variety of design options available. For example, we offer brushed nickel clamps and chrome clamps, which are designed to hold panel thicknesses of 8mm or 10mm.

You can view our range of glass clamps here.

Fitting glass and oak stair parts

Although it can seem like a daunting task to fit a glass and oak staircase, the parts are designed to be simple to fit. The parts themselves are designed to provide both quality and simplicity during installation, with the glass panels, in particular, being very strong.

If you fit the panels yourself, the first thing you will need to do is fit the base rail, which is needed to secure the glass. Next, you need to fit the panel in place using either clamps or infill. The panel should be correctly held in place so that it is stable. Next, install the rest of the panels to ensure a straight staircase finish.

The panels will mark the height which your handrail will need to be, so mark this point on the newel post. The handrail should be slotted in place, or glass clamps will need to be fitted to the panels. It is worth noting that although Jackson Woodturner's handrails and base rails will come with infill, you will need to buy silicone separately.

Although it is possible to fit a staircase yourself, if you are not confident, it is advisable to hire a professional. There are professional installers who will be able to provide a quick, high-quality installation. This is a safer option than attempting to do it yourself.

How much can I expect to pay for oak and glass stair parts?

The exact price of your staircase will depend on the parts you choose and the design you create. On average, you can expect to pay the following prices for each part:

  1. Glass panels - £15.00 - £30.00

  2. Oak newel caps - £5.00 - £20.00. You can buy some half newel posts from around £4.50.

  3. Oak base rails - £20.00 - £45.00 per 2.4mtr length

  4. Oak newel posts - £35.00 - £125.00

  5. Oak handrails - £45.00 - £60.00 per 2.4mtr length

  6. Glass clamps - £5.50 - £7.50

  7. Stair tread - 25.00 - £30.00

How do I maintain my oak and glass staircase?

Oak stair parts will arrive unfinished, so you will need to paint, varnish or wax to ensure the wood is protected. To maintain the rich colour, you will need to polish regularly with a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Over time, if you do find a chip or scratch, these can be carefully sanded or buffed out and refinished, so you should also keep additional finish supplies available.

Recommended products

Light Oak Wood Filler 250ml

  • Ideal for filling small imperfections
  • Once dry the filler can be stained, painted or varnished
  • Prior to use ensure that surfaces are clean, dry and free from dust

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wood filler product image

Treatex Clear Hardwax Oil, Clear Gloss 1L

  • Suitable for all types of internal joinery including floors, stairs, doors, furniture and kitchen worktops
  • Just two coats of our Clear Hardwax Oil will protect and enhance wooden surfaces
  • Protects and enhances the natural beauty of wood

Shop now

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Tips from an interior designer

We spoke to Claire Armstrong-Gautier, lead designer at My Bespoke Room for some expert tips on designing an oak and glass staircase:

Why do you think oak and glass is such a popular combination for a staircase?

"The combination is a timeless one for homeowners looking to champion traditional elements in their home but with a more contemporary twist. Done well, the contrast of the two materials can make a strong statement."

What colours do you think would go well next to an oak and glass staircase?

"When decorating a home with a glass and oak staircase, we would favour neutral tones as part of the design. Think soft, warm whites or light greys. This will then allow the beauty of the wood to take centre stage. This soft palette will also be a continuation of the light and airy feel that the glass creates. If you were hoping to add a bit more colour to your hallway, then a soft sage green would work beautifully."

What type of lighting would you add to an oak and glass staircase to make the room look larger?

"We would typically lean towards recessed spotlights on the wall side of the stairs. This helps to illuminate the area in a soft and classic way which complements the more traditional style of the stairs and property."

What would you add to an oak and glass staircase to further combine traditional and modern themes? For example, the use of stair runners or wall decorations.

"I'd often suggest a simple neutral tone runner so you have something soft underfoot. Again, the trick here is not to overcomplicate the area as you want to draw the eye to the staircase and avoid the room looking too crowded. A small stripe pattern or striped edge can add a great detail for those who want to bring a little pattern to the room."

What are your tips on creating a minimalistic theme in a room with an oak and glass staircase?

"Keep in mind that the focus in the room is the staircase so don't worry about trying to overfill the rest of the space. I'd recommend using glass for the finishing touches and lighting to create a more minimalist look and avoid the space looking like a chalet! For example, go for ceiling lights or pendants with glass shades."

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