If you recently bought an older home, you may notice that the previous owners seemed to have done some updates but then decided to skip town before the whole house was upgraded. This actually happens a lot, since the focus by the previous owners probably was on the kitchen, the bathrooms, or the master bedroom. Everything else is an afterthought, unless the previous owners had an unlimited budget and finances with which to upgrade the house, and that does not happen very often. If you notice that a key feature like the railings and handrails are positively outdated and hideous, you can update things yourself. Here are three options to consider.
A railing retrofitting means that you take the hardware you currently have for your railings and remove the rest. Then you add whatever decorative railings you like, such as black-metal scrolled railings, wood railings, or even invisible railings made of plexiglass. (If you are very brave and do not have any small children to worry about, you could use sheets of real glass too.) The new railing materials can fit right over the old railing posts so that there is less construction mess and less expense, and the whole project can be completed within a day or two.
Removing the Railings Completely
Another option is to have a completely open stairway and open walkways overhead, although railings on your second floor are recommended for safety. If you choose this option, the remodeling contractor will come in, rip all the hardware, posts, railings, and so forth out, and dispose of everything for you. Then he or she will plaster over and fill in the areas where the posts were secured and where the hardware wsa connected to the walls. If paint is needed, that is applied last, although this is a step you could probably do yourself.
Removing the Railings and Replacing Them with Something Quite Different
From one extreme to the other, you can have the railings and handrails (or "up-rails") removed entirely and then replaced with something quite different than what was there before. This allows you to get as unique and as creative as you would like with the new rails and railings, but it is often the most expensive option of these three. One idea that is very popular is a solid-oak panel banister with carvings that tell a story. These banisters are very thick and sturdy and are nearly impossible to dent, scratch, or destroy, plus their individual story carvings are a delight to guests and other viewers. You could skip the carvings and just do solid-oak panels too. This option just leaves things wide open for you.
Talk to a company such as Finelli Architechtural Iron & Stairs for more ideas.