My company’s first encounter with wrought iron balusters — which happened several years ago — left us licking our wounds. We bought an expensive two-sided caulking gun to mix the epoxy needed for the installation, but we were completely unprepared for how messy the epoxy was. We also thought we could trim the balusters to length with a reciprocating saw rather than waste money on a metal-cutting chop saw — but when we started cutting the iron, our progress slowed to a crawl. Epoxy ended up everywhere, and it took everyone I could muster on the job site to assemble the balustrade.

Since then, metal balusters have become increasingly popular and more widely available, and a growing number of my clients have been requesting them. Most systems are now easier to install, primarily because manufacturers have replaced the top shoes with round profiles that fit snugly into holes bored into the handrail. And I’m better prepared...

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