Stair rope with eye splice and turks head whipping from, makers of stair and bannister rope, rope handrails and barrier ropes in the UK.
Made to measure in the U.K. Shipped Worldwide.

How to Measure up for a Rope Bannister

stair rope with brass fittings in situ

For most bannister ropes and rope handrails it is a simple job to measure up - just fix a length of string or rope to the wall with blu-tac or masking tape at suitable points. Then run the string along a measuring tape, noting the position of each fixing point.

Measure the straight distance between the fittings - the weight of the rope itself will give a natural curve. If a more pronounced decorative drop is required then set the string accordingly, but remember that this will result in some give in the bannister rope when it is used for support.

We work with the rope measurement between end bracket centres. Manrope knots on the ends of the rope handrail will protrude 6 to 10cm beyond the end fittings when installed.

If a Sailor's eye splice is used as a rope ending instead of a manrope knot, this will make no difference to the total rope measurement.

Some situations require more calculation, such as areas where a rope bannister is taken around a corner or on a steep staircase. See below.

Your staircase

Choosing the number of brackets and their position is very much a question of what looks right for your staircase.

hemp stair rope in situ

For a firm rope handrail, the more brackets you have, the more secure and less wobbly the rope will feel; that said, there is always some give in the rope, and in any case it is locked at each bracket by a cross screw, so you can choose the number of brackets by considering the look you want.

As a rough guide there should be a rope handrail fitting at every metre, ideally between 80 and 120cm, although on a steep or spiral staircase, this interval will probably be less.

If you have your own fittings, and wish to send them to us, we can replace the bannister rope - please contact us to discuss.

Materials and installation

It is essential to ensure the wall is sound before installing your rope handrail. We provide screws and rawlpugs that are suitable for most walls, although please be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that they are appropriate for your particular installation.

cotton wound with hemp bannister rope in Galicia
Rope handrail fittings- wall placement

See the fittings page for details of the screws provided for each type of bracket. Base plates on all rope handrail fittings have four countersunk screw holes for securing to the wall. The brackets will usually be fixed to the wall at an angle corresponding to the slope of the stair way; the rope on a staircase needs to pass smoothly through the rings in the fittings, without forming sharp angles.

Be aware that if the rope changes direction at too sharp an angle at the bracket point - and there is no slack in the rope to soften the path - the rope could wear prematurely by chafing against the edge of the metal ring. This is usually only relevant on a steep stairway or when turning a corner or changing slope from the stairs to the landing or hall. When installing stair ropes around inside or outside corners, the change in direction of the rope can be dealt with in several ways; these are detailed in the section below on corners.

The positioning of rope handrail fittings on the wall is not so crucial on a shallow incline, or where the rope is deliberately left with some slack for effect (but see above for advice on this). On a steep run, however, with the rope straight and no rope drop between fixing points, the fittings - including the end ones - should be set to allow the rings to accommodate the rope, at the same slant, i.e. align the ring centres to form a line parallel to the slope.

posh stair rope with gunmetal fittings and 2 ply manrope knot
rope handrail fittings in brass, chrome and satin
Hemp bannister rope with chrome bracket and Matthew Walker Knot tassle end with plaited strands

All brass and stainless steel rope handrail fittings, and some wrought iron fittings, have round base plates and can therefore be placed on the wall in any position so that the ring of the bracket allows the rope to run comfortably through.

Wrought iron bannister rope fittings with square baseplates require some thought before installation, particularly on a steep staircase. The square shape of the baseplate is designed to sit as a diamond when the rope is running at 45 degrees (steep). If it is set as a square in this instance, the rope will form a kink or wave at each bracket position. This is not necessarily a problem if there is enough slack in the rope to accommodate the wave, but may be an aesthetic consideration.

Brackets with square shaped base plates could affect the overall layout when used to take a rope around a corner. Placing them in a diamond position - as used on a slope and described above - necesitates one bracket to be below another. This is not an issue on a corner arrangement along a sloped wall, but if installing these brackets on a horizontal run, they would need to be placed in their "square" positions to prevent the rope from kinking.

Rope bannisters on inside corners

A rope bannister can be taken across an inside corner by simply using one bracket set on one side and then continuing with the measurement to the next fixing point on the other wall as suggested in the measuring guide above.

special manila stair rope with brushed steel fittings

Bear in mind that the height of this corner fitting (8 - 9cm) will affect the total rope measurement a little.

Also note that the change of direction made by the rope at the fitting must not be so sharp as to cause chafing between the edge of the bracket ring and the fibres of the rope. If this is a possibility, either allow extra slack in the rope or, the preferred option would be to use two fittings, spaced appropriately. On a right-angled inside corner the formula below works well.

A neat job may be made using two brackets set close in to the corner. The formula for this is outlined below. Note that the rope span across the two corner brackets is HALF the wall measurement between the two brackets. Please also note that this formula will only work where a rope handrail tracks a corner on a reasonably horizontal plane.

measuring guide for a bannister rope on a corner

As long as the distance from the corner to each fixing point is between 15 and 20cm, and the corner is near enough a right angle, the required rope measurement (between the two corner brackets) will also be between 15 and 20cm - e.g. for a 16cm corner to bracket measurement, the measurement of the rope across the corner will also be 16cm. This formula takes into account the arc of the rope and the heights of the fittings.

Rope bannisters on outside corners

An outside corner could be rounded with a continuous length of rope supported by two brackets, or with two separate ropes each terminated by a Manrope stopper knot or a sailor's Eye splice.

stair rope on outside corner

When measuring for the first option, you should consider the height of the two fittings (8cm) and the space needed for a handhold across the corner (to prevent grazed knuckles!) - bear in mind that the curve of the rope will be greater than the measurement taken on the wall.

If it suits your design, a simpler (but more expensive) method would be to use two separate handrail ropes with knots or splices ending either side of the corner.

custom wrought iron fitting for a rope on an outside corner

Alternatively, a custom made corner fitting - like the one shown right - might provide a solution. These are available in wrought iron only, with a choice of finish including gunmetal, brushed steel, antique bronze, satin gold or satin white. Examples of this bespoke work can be seen on the fittings page, under our custom built wrought iron rope handrail fittings.

A bannister rope can be a flexible solution for unusual situations such as steep or curving cottage stairways or restricted space in stairwells. Send us details or a plan or image of your particular staircase and we will configure the measurements.

Rope handrail fittings - retaining screws

Rope bannister fittings need to be fixed in position on the rope by means of retaining screws (or locking pins) to prevent slipping and chafing. The rope is locked into place at each bracket by a screw that goes through the rope and locates in a threaded hole in the bracket's stem.

hallway rope handrail

We usually supply our rope handrails with end fittings in place, and centre or intermediate fitting/s fixed at at centre/even intervals, or at given measurements - according to your requirements.

If you are unsure of exactly where the inner fitting/s will fit to the wall and would prefer to do this during installation, these brackets can be left "floating" on the rope, and the retaining screws supplied separately, with instructions for fitting on site. The job is slightly unfamiliar but not difficult and would give the fitter a little more flexibility if, for example, the walls are uneven or there is studding behind to locate.

An example bannister rope measurement

Here is an example of a measurement taken for a bannister rope with unequal bracket intervals, and the respective costing below.

Remember that the measurements required are from bracket to bracket - the knots on the ends of the rope will protrude 6 to 10cm beyond the end fittings when installed.

This example is for a 2.7m rope bannister with a fitting at each end and two intermediate fittings at intervals of 50cm and 140cm (from left to right), and can be written as   / 50 / 90 / 130 /  , where the forward slashes refer to the brackets and the numbers to the measurements either side.

bannister rope measuring chart
A rope handrail costing

For the above example, the cost (using 32mm diameter hemp rope, brass brackets and 2-ply Manrope knots) would be as follows:

The price for the rope should be calculated by rounding up to the nearest half metre.
In this case, 2.7 metres is calculated at a cost of 3m of rope. (A bannister rope measurement of 2.2 metres would be calculated at a cost of 2.5m of rope.)
There is no need to account for the rope used in the knot - this is included in the price of the knot.

In this example a standard carriage charge has been calculated for a parcel weighing up to a maximum of 10kg.

A deduction of 2% on the price of the goods (excludes carriage) is applied if the payment is made by bank transfer. Please see our order page for further details.

2.7m of 32mm hemp  £ 18.00/m  £  54.00
4 x brass brackets  £ 26.00 each £  104.00
2 x 2ply knots  £ 33.00 each £  66.00
Subtotal   £ 224.00
Plus Carriage to UK   £  8.75
TOTAL cost including UK carriage £ 232.75
Stair complete price list here

Contact Stair

For more advice or information about our bannister ropes and hand rails, you can contact James Watson directly. Full details on our contact page.

24mm navy rope wormed with cotton

Navy 24mm rope hand-wound with cotton cord and brass fitting

All content on this website is © (copyright) 1994-2024 - and Stonk Knots, unless otherwise stated.
Web site design and photography by