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.

Natural & Synthetic Ropes for Handrails

Our rope handrails are made using high grade four strand ropes in hemp, cotton and spun polyester. These ropes have been selected for their superior features and sustainable characteristics; they feel comfortable to hold and will prove to be reliable and hard wearing.

coils of hemp, cotton and polyester ropes for handrails and stairs

Four & Three Strand Ropes

Four strand ropes have properties which are particularly suited to handrail use. This method of construction allows for a firmer lay (tighter twist and more stability) and a rounder profile (smoother feel) than the three strand equivalent. A well constructed rope is key to forming a secure and tidy end knot by providing the necessary stability in the strands of the unlaid rope. This is particularly important when working with complex patterns, such as the 3 ply manrope knot.

outdoor rope handrail in POSH

Garden Rope Handrail in 32mm POSH
image: G.G.,Ledbury UK

We offer four strand natural hemp fibre rope in 24mm and 32mm diameters (equiv. 1 & 1½ inch ropes), unbleached white cotton rope in 32mm diameter and a top of the range synthetic alternative (POSH) to 32mm hemp. Our coloured 4-strand ropes are available in 32mm black cotton and 24mm green POSH

We also stock some good quality three strand ropes which are relatively hard laid and have very little stretch factor. These come in 24mm diameter black or navy polyester, see below for more details.

In addition, we produce a selection of decorative wound ropes which are individually hand-made to order and combine different rope strands in both natural and synthetic fibres. Below are examples of all the ropes we use to make our bannister ropes, rope handrails and barrier ropes.

If you would like to check the quality of our ropes before ordering, we are happy to send samples free of charge within the U.K. Overseas samples are sent by courier (p.o.a.). Please contact us to order samples.

outdoor rope handrail in POSH

Eye spliced Rope bannister in hemp
image: L.C.,Kendal UK

Natural fibre Rope

Natural fibre ropes are good choices for a bannister rope or handrail. Ropes such as hemp or cotton feel pleasant to hold and integrate well with both traditional and modern interiors.

Our four strand Hemp rope is very stable, smooth looking, extremely hard wearing and tends not to show the marks. Hemp rope has a warm buff colour and a natural hay-like odour which varies from batch to batch, depending on the harvest, although this tends to fade away after a few weeks.

We use a superior quality hemp rope manufactured by machine to industrial specifications. This is a hard laid (tightly twisted) rope, which feels firm to hold, is highly resistant to abrasion and scuffing, and has a breaking load of 4 tons upwards - way above the requirements for a bannister rope!

32mm Hemp Rope

32mm Hemp Rope

32mm Unbleached Cotton Rope

32mm Unbleached Cotton Rope

A natural fibre cotton rope feels softer and is smooth to the touch. As with our hemp ropes, the four strand construction enables a tight twist to be achieved in the manufacturing process, producing a firm rope with virtually no stretch. Although some care is needed to prevent marks from showing, it can look very smart, and is often combined with brass fittings in a nautical setting.
Our traditional four strand cotton ropes are available in unbleached natural white or black in 32mm diameter.

32mm Black Cotton Rope

32mm Black Cotton Rope

Natural Ropes to order

Natural Ropes for Handrails and Bannisters

Outdoor Rope hand rail in 32mm POSH

Outdoor Rope hand rail in 32mm POSH
with stainless steel fittings

Synthetic fibre Rope

Synthetic fibre ropes are available in black, green, navy and natural beige. Many synthetic ropes are more weather and damp resistant than natural ropes, making them particularly suitable for outdoor applications.

The closest imitation to best quality hemp is our natural-colour 32mm diameter POSH rope. This is an excellent quality 4 strand spun polyester rope with a good smooth texture, minimal stretch factor and far superior to the widely available polypropylene based 'synthetic hemp' ropes.

POSH rope has high strength, and is made with an enhanced U.V. inhibitor, making it extremely weather resistant. It was developed for the world of classic working rigs, where the combination of good looks, durability and performance are of paramount importance.

Synthetic ropes in colours come in 24mm diameters as 4-strand 24mm POSH in a mid-green colour and 3-strand polyester ropes in navy or black.

Polyester generally has a softer texture and is closer in feel to natural rope than all other available synthetics. It is also the most durable for exterior applications compared to ropes made of polypropylene or nylon fibres.

image above:, Cornwall UK

32mm buff POSH rope with gunmetal finish wrought iron fitting

32mm Natural colour POSH Rope

24mm green POSH rope coil

24mm green POSH Rope

24mm Black Polyester Rope

24mm Navy Polyester Rope

24mm Black Polyester Rope

24mm Black Polyester Rope

Synthetic Ropes to order

Synthetic ropes for Handrails and Bannisters

Rope grab rail in hemp wound with cotton

Rope grab rail in cotton wound with hemp
image: J.W., Cheltenham,UK

Wound Ropes

Our speciality Wound ropes are hand-made and incorporate multiple strands laid together around a rope core using a technique known as worming.

"Worm and parcel with the lay, turn about and serve away"

This refrain is from the days when natural fibre ropes were treated with various protective layers to keep the water and grit from penetrating the centre of the rope.

Worming a rope is twisting a smaller diameter cord into the gap between the strands of a large rope, parceling is wrapping a strip of canvas around the rope; these are both done with the lay (direction of twist) of the rope and then the serving (a continuous binding or whipping with still smaller diameter cord) is put in against the lay (ie. in the opposite direction).

Wound Ropes in Natural Fibres

Using the traditional sailor's technique, hemp and cotton fibre ropes and cords are twisted together (or wormed) to produce an attractive two tone rope.

Four lengths of small diameter cord are wound into the lay of the base rope. We offer our wound rope handrails in hemp and in unbleached white or black cotton base ropes with hemp or cotton cord windings. Our wound ropes are not on coils, but are individually made to length.

Wound natural fibre rope samples

Natural fibre ropes wound with hemp or cotton cords, left to right:
black cotton, white cotton, hemp

Wound Ropes in Synthetic Fibres

Choose a base rope of synthetic hemp equivalent POSH, green POSH, navy or black polyester. Any of these may be wound with a variety of different colours and types of cord, including cotton, hemp, black, gold and green polyester.

Shown below is a selection of some of the wound synthetic fibre ropes we can make up for rope bannisters or handrails - from left to right, green POSH ww cotton, navy polyester ww cotton, black polyester ropes ww cotton, and with buff polyester cords, natural colour POSH ropes ww polyester and with cotton cords.

Selection of Wound Colour Ropes

Selection of Wound Synthetic fibre Ropes

Contrasting colours are often chosen to complement a particular theme - for example, a navy and cotton design works well for a rope handrail in a nautical setting, particularly when combined with brass fittings (an example shown below). If you have a specific colour or material in mind, feel free to contact us to discuss options and availability.

navy rope railing wound with cotton with brass fittings

Navy handrail rope wound with cotton and brass fittings

Wound Ropes to order

Wound Ropes for Handrails and Bannisters:

Rope grab rail in hemp wound with cotton

Cotton Bannister Rope wound with hemp
image: J.G., Naples,FL,US

Ropes: installation notes

All our ropes are suitable for indoor use. For an outdoor rope handrail, or in high humidity environments, we recommend our top quality spun polyester POSH rope as it is the most resistant to both sunlight and water. Synthetic ropes are impervious to moisture which is why they are so prevalent nowadays but most of them bleach and become brittle in the sunlight. Untreated natural ropes will have a shorter life if used outside, as they tend to trap moisture in and rot from the inside.

When handling the wound ropes, it is important to maintain the 'lay' (direction of twist in the rope). If the rope starts twisting against its natural direction it will kink, and the windings will lift and could become dislodged. Handling the rope is fairly intuitive, nevertheless extra care should be taken during the installation stage to ensure the rope does not twist in the wrong direction. We include a printed installation guide with all our bannister ropes. To measure up for a stair rope handrail, and for further information on installation, see our guidelines on the measure page.

Ropes: prices

Natural Fibre Ropes

  • 24mm Hemp - £13.00/m
  • 32mm Hemp - £18.00/m
  • 32mm Cotton, white - £20.00/m
  • 32mm Cotton, black - £35.00/m

Natural Fibre Wound Ropes

  • 24mm wound Hemp - £33.00/m
  • 32mm wound Hemp - £38.00/m
  • 32mm wound Cotton, white - £40.00/m
  • 32mm wound Cotton, black - £55.00/m

Synthetic Fibre Ropes

  • 24mm Polyester - £16.00/m
  • 24mm POSH - £19.00/m
  • 32mm POSH - £28.00/m

Synthetic Fibre Wound Ropes

  • 24mm wound Polyester - £36.00/m
  • 24mm wound POSH - £39.00/m
  • 32mm wound POSH - £48.00/m

∗ Complete Stair ropes price list on the order page

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.

Eye spliced Stair Rope in Hemp wormed with Cotton.

Eye spliced wound rope in Hemp wormed with Cotton.

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