How to Replace a Wooden Staircase Balustrade Part 3 How to Replace a Wooden Staircase Balustrade Part 3
This is the final part of the three part series on how to replace a wooden staircase balustrade. (To return to Part 2, click here.) In this part, the balusters are attached to the base rail and the handrail and the finishing touches are applied.
Step 1 – Fix the Balusters
Mark the diagonal guidelines on both ends of the baluster with a pencil. Make sure to allow for the groove depth in both the handrail and the base rail. Cut the baluster along the marks then check for a tight fit between the handrail and the base rail. Also check that the baluster aligns vertically. If it does, cut all the other balusters using this first one as a template. On the base rail, position a pre cut fillet against the newel post. Place an off cut from the baluster next to the fillet, place the next fillet next to the off cut. Do this until the end of the base rail. At the top of the stairs, the final fillet will need trimming to fit the gap. Measure this gap and divide by 2. This gives the lengths of the first and last fillets. Remove all the fillets and off cuts. Using the adjustable bevel, cut the fillets at an angle to fit snugly against the newel post. Four of these fillets are required. One for each end of the handrail and the same for the base rail. Pin the angled fillet into the base rail and tightly against the newel post. Employ the same procedure for the handrail. Make sure it fits snugly against the newel post. Slide the first baluster in place and pin to both rails at the top and bottom. Continue to the top and pin the remaining two special fillets in place.
Step 2 – Prepare for Finishing
Remove any varnish or old paint with a heat gun. With the aid of a sanding block, smooth those areas to be treated. If a surface has been sanded and before any finish is applied, remove any dust with a powerful vacuum cleaner. It is recommended that applying the finish be postponed for a day or two to let the remaining dust settle after which the vacuum cleaner may be used again.
Step 3 – Applying the Finish
For a natural wood finish, stain may be used to color and darken the wood. Divide the surfaces in sections and where the sections join, make sure that there are no overlapping brush strokes. The stain should be applied on the wood along the grain, brushing out any drips. Finish the surface being worked on before having a break to prevent a line forming indicating those areas that were treated a different times. For a better finish, two coats should be applied. Varnish should also be applied along the grain. After the first coat has dried, sand the surface as the wood grain may be lifted by the varnish. Remove any dust with a damp cloth, let the work dry before the second coat is applied. Apply more coats until the desired finish is achieved.