Installing Stair Railing...

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Old 02-03-10, 01:20 PM
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Installing Stair Railing...

I'm looking to install something that looks like this


But I don't have much experience with work of this nature. Is this a fairly easy DIY task, or do I need a pro?

Can I just head over to a box store and get what I need; or does it make more sense to 'order a kit'?

I'm on a budget; but right now the house doesn't have any railing so I need to do something
 
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Old 02-03-10, 01:49 PM
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Although I've painted/stained miles of railings like pictured, I've never installed any. Since the parts aren't exactly cheap, you wouldn't want to make many mistakes

Best I remember, the balusters are screwed into the steps/floor with a double threaded screw, the tops have a round hole drilled into the handrail to accept the top of the baluster. I'm sure one or more of our carpenters will be along shortly with better advice on installation

IMO it's best to finish as much of the stair parts as possible before installation. It's a whole lot easier/quicker to touch up the paint and stain and just apply a final coat to the top of the handrail after installation
 
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Old 02-03-10, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for the post.

I'll try to get a picture of my stairs when I can.

The house originally had a black/metal railing; but it was removed and left outside in the yard for months. It was all covered in rust and dirt and; at the time....I was like, 'Let's just throw it away - we can get a nicer wood one later'.

That was two years ago Now, I wish I could just clean up and reinstall the old one.

Originally Posted by marksr View Post
Although I've painted/stained miles of railings like pictured, I've never installed any. Since the parts aren't exactly cheap, you wouldn't want to make many mistakes

Best I remember, the balusters are screwed into the steps/floor with a double threaded screw, the tops have a round hole drilled into the handrail to accept the top of the baluster. I'm sure one or more of our carpenters will be along shortly with better advice on installation

IMO it's best to finish as much of the stair parts as possible before installation. It's a whole lot easier/quicker to touch up the paint and stain and just apply a final coat to the top of the handrail after installation
 
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Old 02-03-10, 04:53 PM
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The balusters for the most part have turned dowel tips on the top and bottom that will fit into corresponding holes in the handrail and into either a bottom rail or directly into the hardwood flooring. The newel posts are secured in several manners. Using a double screw for the one attached to the two sections is fine. The free standing newel post is set deep into the framing below it and attached in multiple places so it won't move....period.
This is a diy project, but probably one of the most detailed projects you will ever take on. I can do most anything, but my heart palpates when someone mentions railings. It's not that it is hard, it is tricky and you only get one chance to do it right. Let us know when you post the pix, we'll take another look at it.
 
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Old 02-03-10, 05:23 PM
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Larry,

You mean like, you get it all installed, secured and anchored, stand back and take a look and the whole thing is a giant parallogram?

Ever see the Three Stooges building the Empire State Building? And the boss on the ground asks someone next to him, "Where ARE those three (newly hired)men!!" And the other guy points up and says, 'There'. And the camera pans upward to show what looks like girders anchored at angles, edge to edge, etc. LOLOLOL.
 
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Old 02-03-10, 05:28 PM
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You're right. Measure 3 times, call someone else to measure once, then cut holding your breath. Measure your holes the same way. Parallelogram is better than a trapezoid any day!
 
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Old 02-04-10, 07:24 AM
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I installed a railing nearly identical to the one in your picture when I built my addition. While I had done several deck railings I had never done one with "expensive" wood where screwups might be costly. I also wanted the finished product to be as perfect as I could get it.

When I finished I decided that it wasn't all that difficult. Planning the layout is the most important part. Baluster spacing is important. It must meet code requirements for safety but you also want to get the spacing even. Next is making sure that the newels are anchored securely.

If you Google "baluster spacing"" you can find lots of info on not just the code requirements but also calculators for baluster layout.

I installed the newels and assembled the rails separately. I used a top and bottom rail with fillets between the balusters. My balusters were square on both ends w/o dowels. I face screwed the balusters through the bottom rail and drilled and doweled the top of the balusters.

The only mistake I made was using a medallian to attach the short rail to the wall. I don't like the look. If I were to do it over the end of the rail would simply be attached through the drywall.

In addition to common hand tools, I used a drill press and a miter saw. Neither are absolutely necessary. If you are handy at all I think you will be surprised at how easy it was.

On edit - Another mistake I made was not finishing the components before I put the rail together. As Mark noted it's a lot easier to do before it's assembled.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 08:03 AM
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Okay how do you get pictures included in the post? Inquiring minds want to know.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
You're right. Measure 3 times, call someone else to measure once, then cut holding your breath. Measure your holes the same way. Parallelogram is better than a trapezoid any day!
After I posted, I actually thought that myself. Yes, with a parallelogram you can at least rack it straight. With the trapezoid(do you have to go to college to know that word? LOL), you mismeasure something and now you will have to dismantle the entire works, or, cut out crooked ballusters, and surface nail.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Mitchell View Post
If you Google "baluster spacing"" you can find lots of info on not just the code requirements but also calculators for baluster layout.
It is so a baby's head cannot get stuck inbetween.

I installed the newels and assembled the rails separately. I used a top and bottom rail with fillets between the balusters. My balusters were square on both ends w/o dowels. I face screwed the balusters through the bottom rail and drilled and doweled the top of the balusters.
Face screwed? I suppose that is only advised for painted posts, since if you fill the countersinks, no one will know?

I hand made such a system years ago - and what I did was drill the treads and nail in nails with the heads cut off. Then I drilled a corresponding hole in center of each bottom of the ballusters. For the top, I surface nailed straight down through the rail, as the rail and ballusters were going to be white gloss painted. I even made a newel post with fancy, easy to make finial ontop.

Came out perfect, naturally, as it was a rental. If some serious old cogger homeowner was there, sitting in a chair watching, it probably would have been the trapezoid thing.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 09:57 AM
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"My balusters were square on both ends w/o dowels"

The carpenters I've been around used a 'special' screw that was threaded on each end. They had a socket on the drill that threaded into the top side of the screw allowing the drill to screw it into the floor/stair tread. I don't know the proper name for the screw or socket

I always gave different [higher] pricing for stair cases if I wasn't allowed the opportunity to finish them prior to installation. Most builders/customers saw it my way when they were made aware of the labor/price difference
 
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Old 02-04-10, 10:32 AM
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Mark - They sell those screws at big box stores. They're called dowel screws. At the time I did my first railing I didn't know they existed. I've done several railings since and have used them but if the handrail is dadoed it's easier to use a dowel. I prefer the dadoed rail since it holds square ended balusters securely and keeps them from turning.

"Face screwed? I suppose that is only advised for painted posts, since if you fill the countersinks, no one will know? "

I face screwed the balusters not the posts. I screwed from the bottom of the shoe rail up into the baluster. I don't like to use nails in a railing or any fastener pattern that will be visible once the railing is installed. with a little forethought all fasteners can be hidden without having to use a wood putty.

I once did a stair railing in a finished basement and I counterbored lagscrews to secure the base of the bottom newel. I simply plugged the counterbores and sanded it smooth. When it was finished you could not tell where the screws were.
 
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