Entry Stair Railing – Split Foyer

Our house is built in 1968 and it had a patterned old iron railing above our split-foyer entry – similar to what you see on a lot of older homes front porches built between 1950-1970.  We finally decided that the railing had to go.  I was a little nervous that this project was going to fail completely since we hadn’t really tackled anything involving so much carpentry.  But I took leap of faith and calculated all the materials we would need.


The before picture. The pattern of the railing could have been worse but it still really dated our house.

I looked at many pictures for inspiration but I love the detail in these photos. I opted for a more ‘board and batten’ style of wainscoting. It seems a bit more informal that some other styles.


The project begins! I instructed Phil the whole way since my architecture skills help me out quite a bit when it comes to detailing and construction.  But even though I know how to use power tools, Phil insists that he do all the hard work.

So first we built the stud wall for the partition – 2×4’s spaced 16″ on center minimum. We built the wall in the garage and them brought it upstairs to attach it to the floor and wall.


Away went the (VERY HEAVY) metal railing. Up went the 2×4 wall.


We used 1/2″ thick MDF board as the finish material. You need to have a backing that the nails will connect to and drywall would not work for that. We could have used a thin 1/4″ -1/2″ layer of plywood as well.

Next we added the top cap – 1 x 10 piece of poplar. We used poplar because it was the only species that they had in the size and quality of finish we wanted. We fastened it in to the top of the stud wall with screws. Next came the top and bottom base trim.  We used a high grade pine 1 x 6.


Next came board and batten trim. We used pine 1 x 4’s spaced about 16″ on center.  For the end of the wall we used 1 x 2’s to create the same look on a narrow space.


Next came Phil’s favorite part – adding the cove detail trim around each 1 x 4. Once that was finished we filled the holes, sanded and got things ready for prime and paint.IMG_1371

This project cost us around $400 and took two half-time weekends and weekday nights. I think it was well worth the effort. Here is are some after pictures.


IMG_1376 IMG_1380


5 thoughts on “Entry Stair Railing – Split Foyer

  1. Pingback: Dining Room | Stephanie King Design

    • It held up really well. Some joints were slightly more visible with time, but nothing that caulk or paint couldn’t fix. We have since sold this home but the last picture was taken over one and a half years later.


  2. I have literally the exact same set up in my current home we purchased last year and I’m trying to take on this exact same project. Can I ask, if you remember, how you fastened the wall to the floor so that it was stable?


    • Hi! Sorry I forget to check this post. I’m sure you’ve completed any project you were looking to do, but if I remember correctly, we just screwed the wood stud framing into the wood floor with hefty screws. After putting the MDF board around the frame, the wall was extremely stable & was definitely not going anywhere.


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