After months and months of exchanging emails with a metal worker for the guardrail for our exterior basement stairs, work began this week. They came out two days ago to install the 3 mounting brackets for the posts and today they are out assembling the horizontal members. This whole process began during the summer when our home insurance company required a railing on the exterior staircase. It wasn't something we were ever expecting to do so I was unprepared to do it and began by searching for salvaged material we could incorporate.
I met with a metal smith and we looked over historic photos of the house which show the original iron fence along the perimeter of the property, but it is hard to make out the detail. In the end though I decided something simpler would be better since this isn't visible from the street. Many old examples I found were a simple 3 horizontal bars with alternating height pickets. I used this short & tall pickets example as my main guide. I found some new finials on this website. It turns out they are for round pickets, not square like the metal worker was thinking, but I think that round would be more historically appropriate anyway, plus he hasn't really given me much direction on where to find finials so I wasn't in the mood to go searching again. The end post will be simple rather than the awesome salvaged newel I found. It will have a ball finial on it which looks to be what the end posts were in the original photos of the house.
We will also include a handrail which will be bolted on to the end post. Everything will be welded together and then powder coated all in one piece to reduce the chance for water to get in and rust to form. The only joint will be where the handrail and guard rail are attached.