On my stairs? It's enclosed with floppy wood (house was rented before we brought it) and I've just painted it white so it does look better but ideally I'd like a staircase with poles to let more light in!
House is 40s/50s red brick 3 bed end of terrace 'normal' house.
Shall I brave it and rip it off or am I likely to regret it and have a massive gappy staircase? If it is gappy will I need to replace the banister or can u wedge spindles in?
If there were once spindles there, there might be holes for them to slot into - however, these may not meet current safety regulation wrt the spacing.
You may be able to tell by tapping the wood and seeing if there are places it doesn't sound hollow but this may not work. You may be able to tell if there are any nail heads showing in the middle of the panelling which could indicate it's nailed to a spindle.
We need to find out the regulations for spacing and then work out how many spindles we will need. Then its a end post for the upstairs and downstairs. Also a handrail for the top and a base rail like this to slot spindles into. Will probably ask FIL or someone to help fit it maybe even a local carpenter as we are useless at DIY.
When I bought my old house we wondered the same thing until my mum grabbed a hammer and ripped a hole in it. Lo and behold a nice set of spindles. In my new house also a nice set of spindles under the wood. Be brave, they are more than likely still there- people tend to just cover things over. If not you could always buy some mdf and recover. In my eyes it is worth a chance.