Stick Finish Options

Laurel Sticks Stained

Laurel Sticks Stained

The results on this project speak for themselves! The homeowner went with an ipe decking but wanted a contrast for the railing lumber which is rough sawn red cedar 2x4s. The railings are finished on site with rough sawn cedar 1x4s and the top plate is a 1×6 ipe decking board. The sticks on this railing are stained with Cabots Exterior Deck Stain in the Natural color. This helps preserve and enhance the natural red color of the mountain laurel sticks. It also darkens them and adds some shine.

Stained Laurel Sticks

Stained Laurel Sticks

Stain on Mountain Laurel Sticks

Stain on Mountain Laurel Sticks



A common question about Mountain Laurel Handrails is, “What does the mountain laurel look like when it weathers?” Well, it looks a lot like a piece of cedar that turns silver with exposure to the sun. But, since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are some pictures of mountain laurel that has weathered to a silver color.

weathered mountain laurel

Weathered Mountain Laurel in Full Sun

This picture is of weathered and silver mountain laurel with full sun shining. The next picture is with partial sun and shade.

weathered mountain laurel

Weathered Mountain Laurel in Sun and Shade



Some of you might remember a recent wood deck railings project I posted that was installed at the Summer House in Highlands, NC. I passed by there recently and noticed that the painters had been through and work was about complete on their new Idea House Showroom. The sticks and branches on these custom railings have been painted to match the color scheme. I love this picture with the timber frame porch railings in front with the green of the forest beyond.

Painted Branch Railing

Decorative Railing

Railing Section with Painted Branches

The left picture shows a wood railing section before it was delivered. Each section was carefully painted before being delivered. It’s quite time consuming and requires a delicate hand to avoid errors. But painting the sticks is a great way to get the look that perfectly matches your colored schemes. Sticks can also be stained and this is another good way to add another level of customization to your Mountain Laurel Handrail project.

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deck railing

Corner Post Railings

I seriously just noticed that these railings were repainted after we installed them. In the picture directly above you can see that the cedar 2x4s have been painted a light gray but in the pictures after all work on the project had been complete, the lumber is a much brighter white to match the windows and doors. I think this looks much nicer than the original color which would have matched the color of the posts. The white lumber gives the sticks plenty of contrast to set them off!

timber frame porch decorative railing

Sunlit Porch

The designer on this project has a strong eye for detail and color. She brought together many local crafters to work on this project. She also keeps many of these items available in her store and is ready to help with design and decor suggestions and ideas. On the right is another picture when there was snow on the ground. White snow and the evergreen forest make a great backdrop.

exterior handral

Mountain Laurel Handrail with Painted Branches



New pictures have just arrived of a stairwell railing. For this project, the lumber is stained dark walnut and the branches have been painted off-white for an absolutely stunning effect. I really like how this turned out. What do you think?

Dark Walnut Stained Wood Railing with Painted Branches

Dark Walnut Stained Wood Railing with Painted Branches

Painted Branch Mountain Laurel Handrail

Painted Branch Mountain Laurel Handrail

Straight and simple rails stained in mocha make a stunning contrast to the silvery white branches that form balusters. Together, these elements create an abstract piece of art. Then, to bring on the holiday cheer, the homeowner decorates the balcony railing with bright, colorful lights wrapped in garland.

Railing with Christmas Lights

Railing with Christmas Lights

Just sent some pictures of my beautiful railing. Everyone has to comment when they see it.
Truly unique and perfect for our beach home. Earthy and perfect !

Blessings !!!

Railing with Holiday Lights

Railing with Holiday Lights

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Exterior Railings

exterior railings

Exterior railings

Exterior railings are one of the defining elements of the facade of a home. Each style of home has a style

that fits it best, though, more and more homes are blending railing designs. Mountain laurel handrails are made by master craftsmen and are a great rustic look. This railing design is based on a traditional form found in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Modern craftsmen have improved on this form with joinery and preparation techniques to ensure a beautiful exterior railing that will draw compliments from everyone that see them. This stair railing is one example of how many different elements can be included that use the mountain laurel wood. The center post of the stairs railing is a larger stick that supports the handrail. The branches come all the way down the side of the stairs and blend the structure with its surrounding. Behind the stairs, sticks extend from the stair all the way to the underneath of the deck. I especially like how the dappled sunlight further blurs the distinction between nature and the built environment.

exterior railing on a bridge

Exterior railing on a bridge

This exterior wood handrail was installed on a bridge over a small stream. The bridge was built with round log posts holding up the timber framed roof. Special pockets were carved in the round posts so that the square lumber of the handrail would fit seamlessly. Large diameter mountain laurel branches were used to match the stout look of the covered bridge. These exterior railings tie this bridge to its surroundings by mimicking the organic forms of the forest.

Exterior Deck Railing

Exterior Deck Railing

External Handrails

External Handrails

This is what the homeowner, Tommy, had to say about his external handrails:

This project started as a 450 SF cottage. Then I added a utility room and single car garage to make probably 900 SF. I used old tin and bark siding plus twig rails to get the look I wanted! The rails came in the specified color and turned out great! Thanks James, I’m looking for another project and I tell everyone I went in woods and made myself!

Exterior Wood Handrails

Exterior Wood Handrails

Exterior Handrail

Exterior Handrail

wood exterior railings

Wood Exterior Railings

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Mountain Laurel Handrail Installation Instructions


How to Measure for your Handrails

The first step in ensuring your Mountain Laurel Handrail order is precise is with accurate measurements.

Use this image to measure your stair railing.

Use this image to measure your stair railing.

For new construction, measure from post to post. Your handrail sections will arrive slightly long so they can be cut to fit on site. This ensures a good, tight fit. Mountain Laurel Handrails sections are built so that the finish height is 36″. This height complies with most building code requirement but local regulations may vary so make sure to check with your local code enforcement official if you have any questions or concerns.

For an existing home, you’ll also measure from post to post. It’s often possible to save the top rail of an existing guardrail. You’ll need to measure from the deck to the bottom of the top rail so that the handrail sections can fit underneath.

Stairs can be built with the stairs inline or on the side of the stringers. If the posts are inline, the lower rail of the handrail will touch the tip of the stair tread. If the posts are to the side, the handrail can attach directly to the stair stringer. This is a great look that obscures the side of the stair.

To measure for stairs, you’ll need to check the length from post to post, the height from the bottom of the bottom rail to the top of the top rail and the angle of the stair’s rise. You can use the drawing to measure for your mountain laurel handrail. With these simple steps you’re ready to get started today on your project!

How to Install your Railings

Mountain Laurel Handrail preassembled sections are built according to your post-to-post measurements and the 2x4s are left one inch long. When the order arrives, rest sections on 2×4 blocks on edge, scribe the ends of the top and bottom rails to match the posts, slide the section into place and fasten with screws. 1×4 are installed with finish nails to sandwich the ends of the sticks at top and bottom. To finish, a 2×6 is installed as a top cap, placing all screws and fasteners to be hidden.

Installation Instructions

  1. Remove sections from package.
  2. Place 2×4 blocks on edge by posts.
  3. Place sections on blocks by posts.
  4. Mark ends of sections and cut to fit.
  5. Slide sections into place.
  6. Screw to post with appropriate size screw.
  7. Cut 1x4s (not included) to size.
  8. Use finish nail gun to nail 1×4 into fatter diameter sticks.
  9. Screw or nail to posts.
  10. Cut 2×6 top cap (not included) to length.
  11. Use trim head screws and angle upwards through the 2×4 and 1×4 into the bottom of the 2×6 for a fastener free top.
  12. Also screw the 2×6 into the posts as possible.
Mountain Laurel Handrails Section Drawing

Mountain Laurel Handrails Section Drawing

These wood railing designs are easy to install! On site, the sections are cut to fit and installed with screws. Lumber is s4s red cedar and is painted or stained to match your color selection prior to assembly. Railing sections are 31″ tall to allow for toe clearance and a 2×6 top rail for a total installed height of 36”.

Preassembled sections are only the inner 2x4s with laurel branches attached. The outer 1x4s and 2×6 top rail are assembled on site. 6×6 post is recommended. For 4×4 post, we will use a 1×4 in place of the 2×4 for a finished width of 3″.

Preassembled stair railings must be well measured to ensure code compliance. The bottom rail can rest directly on a tread if no more than a 6″ sphere can pass through the opening created and this is a function of the rise and run of the stair. If the post is inline with the stringer, this is the method to choose. It is necessary to know the angle of the stairs and the overall height of the rail from top of top 2×4 to bottom of bottom 2×4.

If the desired look is where the branches are attached to the side of the stringer, this can also be achieved with preassembled rail. This is also dependent on the posts being set to the side of the stair stringer. Crucial measurements are again the overall height from top of top to bottom of bottom and the angle of the stair in degrees.

Pictures of Preassembled Sections

This is how the handrail sections look when they arrive at your house. They are ready for installation and only need to be fastened between the posts. This easy to install handrail system is a great way to quickly add mountain charm to your home.

The image below is one of the first handrail sections made for this home. Mountain Laurel Handrails arrive pre-assembled, painted and finished so all you have to do is put them in place! It is an easy solution for your home.

Handrail Section 1

This next section of railing is designed for use on the slope of the stairs. It is carefully measured and cut to fit your precise measurements. These sections are very easy to install. Below is another section for the slope of the stairs. Notice how the sticks seem to flow with the angle of the handrail.

Handrail Section 3

This next picture shows the more common handrail section meant for flat surfaces and not traditionally used on the slope of stairs like the sections in the previous two pictures. Mountain laurel handrails look great in any setting; inside or out.

Handrail Section 4

Handrail Section 5

These Mountain Laurel Handrails come easy to install and look great. If you are thinking about adding a rustic look to your home, Mountain Laurel handrails are a perfect fit.

Handrail Section 6

Handrail Section 7

Handrail Section 8

Mountain Laurel Handrails can come in all different shapes and sizes and suit just about any home environment. The installation can easily be completed in no time at all.

Handrail Section 9

Handrail Section 10

Handrails are made to the exact measurements that the consumer gives to me. We make sure that there is a little excess  so that the installer can trim them down if needed.

Handrail Section 12

This next handrail is a prime example of the ‘Sunburst’ design that is perfect for the centerpiece of any handrail design. This is just one of many custom designs that make Mountain Laurel handrails a perfect fit for your home.

Handrail Section 13 - Sunburst

Each section of Mountain Laurel handrails are unique in every way. These handrails add a stylish flare to any type of home.

Handrail Section14

Handrail Section 15

Handrail Section 16


How Are Branch Railings Built?

Mountain Laurel Handrails are the perfect complement to any county home, whether in the city or the mountains. Reusing wood is a green alternative to burning it as waste. Skilled craftsmen can assemble mountain laurel and rhododendron branches into items of beauty that impart the look and feel of the forest to your home. Read on to learn how you can make your own.

1) Measure the handrail location from post to post. You will need two 2x4s, two 1x4s and one 2×6 for each handrail section. Make a list of all the lumber you will need.

2) Paint or stain the dimensional lumber prior to assembly.

3) Secure two 2x4s to a surface making sure that they are 31 inches apart from top to bottom. For a total handrail height of 36 inches, handrails should be installed 3.5 inches above the floor.

4) Cut a piece of mountain laurel to fit. Nail it to the top and bottom 2x4s with a 16-gauge finish nail gun.

5) Repeat step 4 making sure to weave the sticks over and under. Sometimes, they can be fastened to previously installed branches giving a more natural look. The laurel twigs should be nailed wherever they cross for greater structural stability

6) The section of railing is ready to be installed!

This is a simple way to add natural beauty to your home decor. Mountain Laurel Handrails are great for interior applications as well as on exterior decks. Please remember to be careful when using power tools and nail guns.