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Stair Railing Removal


tweetke's Avatar
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03-26-13, 01:32 PM   #1  
Stair Railing Removal

I want to replace the carpet on stairs with wood steps. Any suggestions on how to remove the railing balusters without causing extensive damage? See picture.
Thanks

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03-26-13, 03:52 PM   #2  
Welcome to the forums! Are you 100% sure the carpet is installed under the balustrade?? Very odd if it is. Try peeling up carpet with a pair of pliers and see if it comes out from around the newel post or an intermediate post. You can never tell what is beneath the carpet. It may be finish-able treads.

 
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03-26-13, 04:08 PM   #3  
Carpet is around the posts. Steps and risers are made of plywood. Would like to put laminate or engineered wood on the plywood steps. A more expensive approach would be replacing plywood steps with oak which is kind of out my budget. If I could remove the balusters it would save me a lot of measuring and cutting and obtain a better fit. Plan to paint the balusters white and refinish rail.

 
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03-26-13, 04:37 PM   #4  
It is doubtful you will get laminate or engineered flooring to work out as a cover for your plywood steps. How will you build a bullnose? I know it may be bugetary, but replacing the entire tread with preformed oak 1" bullnose treads will serve you better in the long run.

To your request. The newel posts are most likely bolted into the framework. Look at the bottom of the posts for knock out plugs. You can remove them and access the heads of the lag bolts used. Use a dead blow rubber hammer and a small block of soft wood and begin tapping upward on your handrail to get it to eventually release from the tops of the balusters. It won't be easy as a good stair case installer used a good glue and probably brads to hold it all. Once the handrail is off, the balusters can be wiggled slightly to remove them from their glued holes as well.
It is painstaking work, but you can do it.

Others will have differing opinions on how to do this, so tune back in for more advice, please.

 
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03-26-13, 06:26 PM   #5  
Ditch the laminate or engineered angle, not practical and will not work well as far as fit and finish.

Test first, then I would want to leave the railing in place and try to remove the ballusters. See if you can get them to turn while in place. If they spin, you can get them out for re-use. If they are rock solid, then plan of sacrificing them and saving the treads for hole positioning.

I would go with an oak mitered return tread. Stain and finish yourself and install. Use the old treads as templates. If the previous ballusters were Oak, you may want to consider a replacement as oak does not paint very well. Although, already sealed oak ballusters may have all pours and grains sealed to accept paint.

 
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03-26-13, 08:31 PM   #6  
Wow, I gotta say, that is not a project I would tackle unless I knew EXACTLY how to do it. I've got skills, but I wouldn't attempt it. No offense, but the fact that your thinking laminate might be an option indicates that you probably are not experienced enough for this project. Just saying. There's a reason why there are carpenters who do nothing but stair work. Good luck.

 
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03-26-13, 10:17 PM   #7  
Thinking some more on the railing, it is plowed and a couple of the balusters wiggle at the top. I might be way-off but I'm thinking the fillets could be removed which are probably glued and nailed.
The stair balusters could be removed by just tipping them or the pin at the bottom of the baluster could be sawed off allowing its removal.
The top rail is more difficult since you can't tip the baluster. However if the base pin is cut the baluster could be slid. Then remove a small section of the plow at a discrete point and take baluster out. Putting back would require toe-nailing base.

Regarding oak steps, I agree they are better and perhaps easier to install but the cost is substantially higher.
Thank you for the suggestions and comments.

 
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03-27-13, 02:37 AM   #8  
Working around things is a good option. Your option of cutting the bottoms of the balusters is good. I would use a japan saw or multimaster to cut through the bottom of the spindle's dowel. Once they are removed, you can remove the filler, replace the dowel by drilling into the bottom of the baluster and replacing it with a comparably sized dowel piece. Then putting it all back together will be easier since the top just fits into the plowed out part with fillers, which can be bought independently.

 
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03-27-13, 03:20 AM   #9  
If the railing is plowed, then sacrifice the top most fillet and you should be able to tip each one out successively all the way down. Tip. twist and remove - pop out another fillet and repeat.

If you are planning on painting the spindles, get birch not oak rails. There is too much grain in oak to paint and make it look good. You could also go with pre-primed and finish will 2 coats of latex.

To be code compliant, you will need 2 ballusters per tread instead of the one you currently have. Order ballusters in 2 different lengths to take the rise of the rail into consideration and maintain a smooth rise to the decorative features that will be on the bottom portion of the ballusters.

Oh, and save the treads you currently have, number them and use them as templates. No need to recreate the animal, someone has already figured out all the angles for you.

 
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03-27-13, 03:24 AM   #10  
Good idea on tipping out the balusters. I would also go with a much smaller baluster, as yours are too large to use two per tread, and look awfully heavy in appearance.

 
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03-27-13, 03:41 AM   #11  
I'm not sure what they are made of but most builders around here use a baluster that comes preprimed - saves a little bit of work

Because they are finished with varnish/poly I don't think the open grain will be a big issue if you paint the oak. You will need to sand them and use a solvent based primer. I'd use a latex enamel for the finish because latex paint is ground coarser than oil paint and will do a better job of filling any open grain.


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03-27-13, 08:16 PM   #12  
Thank you everyone for your assistance.
I'll tackle the job in a few weeks and post the results assuming I remember to do so.

 
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