Published on March 7th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Stairway handrail to heaven!

lighted stairway handrail

Materials: Kvartal ceiling fitting

Description: I wanted to improve safety of stairways leading to the basement in my house by adding an handrail.
However, there were 2 issues…
1- This is a very narrow place so I don’t have room to install a “regular” handrail
2- Usual handrails are ugly and no fun!

Materials needed:
- A lot of Kvartal ceiling fitting
- Plexiglass tubes as you need (2cm diameter, 2m long each)
- LED strip (5m in my case)
- usual set of tools: driller, saw…

lighted stairway handrail
lighted stairway handrail
lighted stairway handrail

The Kvartal pieces are used to attach the Plexiglas tubes to the wall.
The big advantage of these parts over regular handrail parts is that they are only 2.5cm high, so they don’t eat too much space…

Fitting the Kvartal and the tube is a bit tricky, so here is a picture. You need to dig a hole in the Plexiglas. As this plastic is quite hard and can easily break into pieces, you have to use a saw to delimit the area, drill a hole very gently, then remove softly the small bits of plastic with pincers.

The hole shouldn’t be round but oval so you can block the Kvartal in the tube by turning 1/4.

All the rest is just positioning the Kvartal on the wall (use a string to make sure the holes on the wall are aligned all together), drilling and assembling…

lighted stairway handrail

It is nice already without any lighting, but I added a LED strip to improve overall lighting and create a nicer effect. Of course, you can use any colour you want!

~ Denis, France

More hacks on IKEAHackers.net

BRÄDA laptop grip hack
Flort turned into Car Organizer for Kids

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

26 Responses to Stairway handrail to heaven!

  1. wm says:

    its reminds me of..


    Would love to borrow this idea.

  2. jil says:

    If security needs to be considered with this kind of concept, there are plenty of options: Changing tube material to polycarbonate, shortening the spacing between anchors and running steel cable inside the tube along with the led strip. Of course there are different options to replace Kvartal fittings. Also, changing the direction of the light to point down from the hand rail instead of shooting it up would also help.

    This is something I’m considering for our library: Led strip inside frosted tube going around the room near ceiling to give nice indirect lightning above the bookshelves. Kvartal fittings seem to be a perfect solution for this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think the points where the tube joins the wall anchors are also weak. by the hacker’s admission, the plexiglass tubes break easily. if you were to stumble and grab the handrail hard, I thinhk the tubes will crumble at the points where you created holes for the wall anchors. A false sense of security may be worse than not having the handrail coz if there wasn’t one at least you’d walk more slowly and be more careful.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is no existing hand rail, what he did was add lighting in a creative way. I think the previous comments are worried about ppl who will try to use it as a handrail. but i suppose there was no need for a hand rail in the original design.

  5. Tyler says:

    Definitely a cool idea, but like others I would be concerned with the safety. Would just adding an LED strip or something to the top or side of the rail work just as well for lighting?

  6. paul says:

    I can see other people’s concerns about safety, so I’m interested to see how sturdy it is. Even if people are worried about that I can see this idea being used purely decoratively though. I can imagine it as a nice feature secured on a room’s picture rail.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lou, you can go up or down the stairs… think again.

    Denis, très jolie boulot, le résultat final est bien classe. ;)

  8. Lou says:


    I don’t know where this really goes, but heaven is up. This appears to go down.

  9. Anonymous says:

    OK, let me give you some insights on this project:

    1- Safety:
    If you really want to have a high-safety, ultra-sturdy solution, here is what you should do:
    * Increase number of kvartal pieces: I used 1 piece every 50cm of handrail to fix the tube to the wall. This might not sound enough, but it is. If you use 1 piece every 20cm of tube, then it becomes even more robust.
    * Change plastic: I used PMMA (plexiglass) tube to do this, which is very hard & robust but has a -bad- tendency to break suddenly if it is shocked violently or bent too hard. If you use polycarbonate instead of PMMA, then it becomes almost indestructible.
    * Of course, use the appropriate anchoring methods (screws, rawplugs) for your wall. Mine is concrete, and I did use the correct screws and plugs for this.

    2- LED strip:
    I just bought LED strip on ebay. You have several qualities depending on type of lightning you want ot acheive: mine is 5m, 60 leds per meter, smd 3528-type of leds. This leds are 12V powered, so no risk of electrical shock. Current consumption is low too, mine is about 2A (12*2=24Watts power). I have a small voltage convertor to convert 240V to 12V. Convertor is connected to main switch of the stairs, so handrail only lights up when I turn the switch on. Another benefit: low power = no heat, no one can get burned by holding the rail…

    3- Lighting:
    I have a real light on top of the stairs. The lightning of handrail is just here for the cool look, not for lighting purpose. Moreover, to avoid any incomfort of the eye, I use smd 3528 leds which are not the most powerful you can find on the market. Given the limited transparency of the plastic tube, I figured out it would not blind anyone…and it actually doesn’t.

    For french speakers:
    - j’ai acheté mes tubes chez Richardson Plastiques, Le Bourget (93), voir leur catalogue sur le web.
    - j’ai acheté les LEDs sur ebay, compter entre 30 et 40 euros. smd 3528, 5m, 60 leds par mètre.
    - le convertisseur 240V-12V a été acheté sur ebay pour 15 euros.
    - j’ai en effet utilisé une réglette plastique car je ne voulais pas faire une saillie dans le mur. Mais comme on ne transporte que du 12V, ça n’est pas un problème.
    - le système électrique de la rampe est relié à l’interrupteur de la cage d’escalier, donc la rampe ne s’allume que quand j’appuie sur l’interrupteur.


  10. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant work!

    He added it as a safety improvement, not as a required handrail. It looks strong enough to give guidance while going down. Plexi tubes are pretty strong. If he made sure to use proper anchors and multiple points, I think it would be fine.

    Someone clever enough to come up with this likely considered the safety and security aspect first and foremost.

    This would make a cool towel rack for a modern bathroom. Might try that one day.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s a very cool idea, and you could also (taking into consideration the needs for dealing with a wet area) do the same thing with a shower curtain rod. I really like that.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Quite stylish, but I hope there is some illumination from the ceiling as well.
    Sources of lights placed between the eyes and the ground interfere with a good calculation of the right place to put your feet (you just see the light and little else).
    I’ve seen this way of illuminating used on bridges, streets and squares and, walking half blinded, I thought that wasn’t a clever idea of the urbanists.
    On a staircase, it might be a bit hazardous (especially going downward).
    Good for some movie setting :-)

  12. Justin says:

    Bad idea.

    Would you let your grandmère hold on to that?

    Don’t ‘hack’ architectural safety elements.

    • Tamra Ross says:

      Agreed! This looks really cool but you could be sued if someone fell. I have a friend with a disability who really relys on handrails to get up and down stairs, and something like this could kill him.

      This reminds me of the Canadian garden show that suggested using old discarded venetian blind slats to mark your vegetable plants: umm. lots of old blinds have lead in them.Risky!

  13. Does anyone know of a stateside source for plexiglass tubing like that used in this project? I’ve got a photography project that these would be perfect for.

  14. Anonymous says:

    How did you power the LEDs?

  15. benoit says:

    I second the previous comments. How sturdy is this handrail? Would it hold you in case of a fall?

  16. Anonymous says:

    And what if you fall and grab the handrail? Or when you actually need support from the handrail?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Superbe idée.
    Pour l’alimentation, on devine une goulotte électrique en bas à droite de la photo, du coup je m’interroge sur le voltage des leds ?

    • Anonymous says:

      les led utilises toujours du 12v ou du 24v , donc jamais de danger d’électrocution, avec un tranfo a 120v.

  18. Keter says:

    It’s very cool looking but it is not safe…the purpose of a handrail is to catch you if you start to fall, and this isn’t strong enough to do that.

  19. J. Daburon says:

    Bien joué Denis !
    mais comment as tu fait pour électrifier le tout? et passez les leds dans ce long tube?
    Chez quel revendeur as tu trouver ces longs tubes de plexi ?
    Merci d’avance

    Well Done Denis !
    But how did you do to put electricity in it ? And how did you manage to put the LED strip through the long plexiglas tube?
    Where did you buy the plexiglas tubes?

  20. Kristyn says:

    Awesome! How are the lights powered?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑