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Why Flush Mount Railings are Better

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

When you are renovating a house or building a new one, there are so many small decisions to make. One of the more important ones is what type of railings to use on your stairway. Many aspects need consideration when making this decision such as post positioning, flooring before or after the railing, and whether you want a contemporary stair railing with custom modern handrail designs in your home. What we want to talk about in this blog post is why flush mount railings are better because they offer certain benefits that other types don't have which makes them popular for interior railings.

Interior Railing in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

What Are the Different Kinds of Interior Railings?

Many different types of interior railings would suit your home's style, for example, wrought iron railing, stainless steel railing, cable railing, mortise railing, filleted railing, and flush mount railing. Each type of railing has many variations to get the stylish statement you are going for, but each type of interior railing is typically used for a specific design. For this article, we will only be talking about mortise interior railings, filleted interior railings, and flush mount interior railings, since the other types of railing systems do not relate to the topic.

What is a Mortise Railing?

A spindle (baluster) is secured by mortising a hole of equal diameter as the spindle, into either a shoe or the floor/tread. It is the least utilized approach of installing an interior railing. There are three ways to mortise a rail such as: using a hollow mortise for a square spindle, a chisel for your square spindle, and drilling a round hole for your round spindle.

Hollow Mortise for a Square Hole

This is a labor-intensive approach that entails boring a round hole, creating a square hollow mortise, and pounding out the square. Then you come back with a chisel to remove the remaining wood. If you are using a shoe for the bottom of the rail typically you would be using a mortise machine to do the mortising.

Chiseling a Square hole

The same technique as the hollow mortise method, except you, chisel out the square. However, it is highly time-consuming, but you do receive the same desired result.

Drilling a Round Hole

Drilling a round hole for your stair railing is the most time-effective method out of the three. Round hole drilling with a shoe entails drilling a round hole and hiding the remaining gaps with a shoe. It has the simplest level of difficulty, saves you the most time, and is also the most cost-effective option when compared to other alternatives. There are three methods to drilling a round hole into your stair railing.

With Wood Fill

Drilling a round hole with wood fill requires you to drill a round hole, with a shoe or no shoe, but must fill in the leftover gaps with wood filler, sand it smooth, and stain it. You can use square spindles or round spindles with this method. This is an easy technique that takes time to complete carefully.

Using Adhesive Only

Drilling round holes using adhesive only is undoubtedly the quickest method. You make a circular hole, install the steel spindle, and leave it as is. There will be visible gaps around the spindles, so this is the most unattractive finished appearance. We do not advocate this technique.

Hammering the Spindle in

You'll need a drill and a section of the hollow spindle, along with the ability to use it as a punch. After hitting it with a hammer a few times, you should be left with a perfectly sized hole that requires no additional chisel. This method can work for square spindles as well.


Can be done with or without a shoe.

Different methods are available depending on the tools available.

Can be easily done with average railing construction knowledge.

The top and underside are finished cleanly, creating a contemporary look.

No gaps or spaces for the dust to enter the railing system.

Considered more modern in design when compared to filleted styles.

Can be used on curved handrails.


Can have an unattractive finished appearance around the holes.


It is not as strong as using wood dowels.

The potential rattling of the spindles if the mortise isn't tight enough or if wood expands.

What is a Filleted Railing?

A fillet is a thin piece of wood that may be placed between each spindle to hide the top and bottom of the spindle that feeds into the underside of a plowed handrail and the top side of the plowed shoe. A plow in a railing using a dado blade indicates that there is an opening cut out of the underside of the handrail and topside of the shoe, allowing for spindles to be installed. If no shoe is present, typically the spindles are secured at the bottom by a wood dowel in the floor or stair treads.

This style of railing is the most accessible, and most DIY handymen can install this with little to no problems. Filleted railing styles are much less modern looking, but they can be made modern with the use of steel spindles.


Requires average railing knowledge, and there are many guides online to help.

DIY friendly.

Material can be found at most home improvement stores.


Not the most attractive style for a stair railing finish and has a more traditional design.

Spindles can get loose and either fall out and/or rattles.

The nonsmooth finish on the bottom of the handrails and top of the shoes.

Restricted to steel or wood square spindles.

More difficult to apply on the curved handrail.

What is better? Filleted or Mortised?

The method of mortised railings is better. This modern style leaves a clean and smooth finish on the underside, with no gaps or spaces for the dust to enter the railing system. The interior filleted design is often more traditional; therefore, it can fit certain designs better than modern styles like mortised railings.

What is a Flush Mount Stair Railing?

A modern stair railing will have no fillets between spindles nor any plows in the handrail or shoe. They simply sit flush on top of each other (hence "flush" mounting). The modern way of constructing modern aesthetic interior stair railings is to utilize flush mount steel spindles. This style provides for a contemporary design that hides the spindles and leaves no gaps or spaces for dust particles to enter, which can happen with filleted styles. The clean lines also create an airier feeling than other railing systems such as filleted handrails.


Clean modern lines with no gaps or spaces for the dust to enter the railing system.

No chances of spindles becoming loose and rattling around in the home.

Considered more modern in design when compared to filleted styles, but this is subjective.

The strongest type of railing for overall safety.


Not DIY friendly without experience with the construction of this type and requires tools that not everyone has at their disposal, such as a chop saw or miter saw for angled cutting.

Cost can be expensive if you need to hire someone else to make them for you since it is considered modern in design.

Filleted Railing Vs. Mortised Railing Vs. Flush Mount Modern Stair Railing Final Thoughts

The verdict on which is better depends on a few factors.

Maple interior railing Craven, Saskatchewan, Canada

The Thrifty Handyman

If you are trying to save money, love challenging DIY projects, have the "know-how" of how to install stair railings, and don't mind the more traditional style, then filleted interior railings would be the best choice.

The Handyman that has Time

Mortised interior railings are going to be the best choice for you. If you are willing to spend the time and effort, mortised interior railings will look cleaner than the traditional filleted styles.

The Professional Handyman

If you love modernity in any project, don't have time, and have expendable income the flush mount stair railing is going to be your best bet. This style offers clean lines that hide spindles, and just like with mortised interior stair handrails they require very little maintenance over the years because of their design choices.


We have concluded that it depends on what skills you have and where you are in life (financially and timewise) to find the best solution for replacing your stair railing. We at GW Railings believe that your home's style and the longevity of the interior railings are the most important. Therefore, it is safe to assume that flush mount interior railings are the best. The elegance it offers, the level of detail, the custom design qualities, and the level of safety for your family are what flush mount railings can offer for your next project.

Check out our Instagram or Facebook to look at some of our most recent projects.

Take a look at our product catalog or photo gallery to help with interior railing design.

Live in the Regina area? Make an appointment and find GW Railings.

Or browse through the website.

Railing Contractor servicing Regina and all of Saskatchewan


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