Wood stair rails, like metal ones, will tend to come loose after many year of service. When wooden stair rails start to wobble it is advisable to fix the problem before it gets worse and someone gets hurt. Reinforcing wood stair rails is a job that you can do yourself. It is not that difficult to do with the right tools and this article will show you how.
Step 1 - Identify the Parts of the Wood Stairs
To properly fix wood stair rails it helps to understand each part of the staircase and its main function. A staircase consists of three main parts. The banister rests on top of the railing, which is what you grip when ascending or descending the stairs. The newel posts are the main support and stabilizer of the wood stair rails. The balusters are the decorative pieces between the newel posts. The balusters prevent someone from falling through the railing or getting stuck.
Step 2 - Secure the Newel Posts
These posts take the majority of the weight from the rest of the wood stair rails and are often the first to become loose. Newel posts are bolted in place at the top and bottom of the wood stair rails. Use a wrench to tighten the bolts. This will fix the majority of the problem but if not you can remove the old lag bolts and replace them with the next size up. This will reinforce the wood stair rails. Look for nails holding the newel posts in place. They will be toe-nailed into the steps. Check to see that they are snug and, if not, add another set of nails to reinforce it.
Step 3 - Brackets
"L" brackets on wood stair rails may not look pretty but they will be very effective in reinforcing the stairs. The brackets are only effective when used in pairs. At the bottom of the newel posts place the brackets on either side making sure one side is on the stair and the other is on the newel post. Screw the brackets in place by inserting one screw in the top hole first and then the hole for the stair. Do this with each newel post.
Step 4 - Balusters and Banister
Start by hitting the banister with a rubber mallet. This makes sure the banister is sitting tightly on the newel posts and balusters. Look for loose nails and hammer them in place. You can also add more nails to the banister as well as wood glue and filler. Check the balusters to see if they are loose. Grip each baluster and try to turn it and if they move then they are loose. Add wood glue and filler to the top of the baluster as well as adding some nails.