FAQ: How to Replace a Stair Balustrade

Jul 05 2018

Replacing your stair balustrade doesn't need to be difficult. If your stairs are looking old and have fallen deeply into despair, a replacement staircase will definitely help kick-start your home renovations and make your hallway a pleasant sight once again. Changing your Balustrade (handrails, base rails, balusters and newel posts) doesn't always need to be difficult; it can be undertaken as a DIY project if you are used to working with wood. Certain systems are easier to fit as a stair DIY project than others depending on the way the pieces are held together. We recommend Metal and Glass Stair Parts range by Cheshire Mouldings. Check out our easy-to-follow, helpful guide on how to replace a stair balustrade below:

For more specific information or help regarding our balustrade/staircase products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert sales team on 01691 671020 for further assistance.

1 - A Quick Guide

1a - Understanding your staircase

Base rail - When you are thinking of your stair design, the baserail is likely to be far from your thoughts. A baserail is a small but important part of the design process. Not only do they add a finishing touch, they are also an essential safety feature that ensures that your stair spindles are securely held in position.

Handrail - handrail is the rail that runs along the top of the spindles. Handrails can also be attached to the wall as a stand-alone fitting. Their main purpose is to be grasped by the hand of the user so as to provide stability and support.

Newel caps - Situated on top of a newel post, newel caps Newel are the perfect finishing touch to a staircase.

Newel post - A newel post is the structural upright post that fits at the beginning and the end of a staircase and supports the handrail of a stair banister. The most important job of a newel post is to provide structural support, but that does not mean that they can’t be used to enhance the look and feel of your stairs. 

Spindles - The spindles that you choose for your staircase can have a huge impact on the overall look of your home. Spindles are the vertical struts that connect the handrail to the base rail of your staircase.

Risers - The board that forms the face of the step.

Tip: The maximum individual rise for domestic staircase flights is 220mm.

Treads - The top or horizontal surface of a step.

Bullnose step - Typically at the bottom of the staircase with one or both ends of the step having a quarter circle design.

Going - The going of a flight of stairs is the horizontal distance between the face of the first and last risers.

Nosing - The edge of the tread projecting beyond the face of the riser and face of the cut string.

Cut or open string - A string with the upper edge cut away to the shape of the treads and risers so that their profile can be seen from the side.

Rise - The rise of a flight is the vertical distance between the floors or landings connected by the flight. The individual rise is the vertical measurement from the top of one tread to the top of an adjacent tread.

Winders - Are steps narrower at one end that are used to change the direction of the stairs through 90 or 180 degrees.

1b - Choosing a style of staircase

Chrome - For a fashionable and modern improvement in the home, why not invest in a chrome staircase. Both timber and metal are used to create a unique spindle for the staircase, as well as providing matching newel posts, hand and base rails and all necessary assembly and finishing kits to make this installation a piece of cake.

IronIf you want your home to be packed full of character and quirky features without renovating your entire home, then look no further. Both ranges of iron balustrade come with everything you need to give your staircase a fresh new appearance. We stock the iron spindles, solid oak base and handrails as well as newel posts and wood adhesive.

Contemporary - If you are looking for a clean cut, edgy look, then contemporary is by far your best bet. Contemporary is perfect for someone seeking that squared off, timeless look.

TraditionalRenovate your staircase with understated traditional turned spindles and newel posts for a classic unspoiled look. Instantly revives and renews the look of your staircase to completely transform your home.

Glass panelsA simple and easy way to open up your home - making it feel brighter and more spacious - is by incorporating glass panels in your staircase. Forget traditional wooden spindles and opt for something a little more contemporary and modern for your home.

For more specific information or help regarding our balustrade/staircase products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert sales team on 01691 671020 for further assistance.

2 - Preparation

2a - Removing your existing spindles and handrail

1 and 2 - Housed and housed and nailed
  1. Carefully prise off the moulding covering the tread
  2. Knock the bottom end of the spindle sideways out of its housing
  3. Pull it downwards to disengage from the handrail housing.
3 - Housed at both ends
  1. Cut through the shoulder line of the joint on the underside of the handrail
  2. Pull your spindle out of the lower housing.
4 and 5 - Butt jointed and nailed
  1. Drive the top end of your spindle backwards and its bottom end forwards
  2. Once the top is freed, it can be pulled out of its housing.

Tip: If you wish to reuse the spindles, take care when removing as they may damage or snap.

6 - Removing your existing handrail
  1. Undo the handrail bracket bolts (located near the newel posts)
  2. Lift your handrail clear when loose.

For more specific information or help regarding our balustrade/staircase products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert sales team on 01691 671020 for further assistance.

3 - Required Tools

3a - To replace a balustrade you will need the following tools...

  1. Safety goggles
  2. Sliding Bevel
  3. Handsaw
  4. Hacksaw
  5. PVA woodworking adhesive
  6. Drill
  7. Pencil
  8. Ruler
  9. Try square
  10. Spanner
  11. Paint or varnish
  12. Hammer
  13. Chisel.

4 - Step by Step / A Guide for Replacing a Balustrade

4a - Fitting spigot newel posts

  1. To replace damaged or modified newel posts cut them off, leaving the joints between their bases and outer string intact
  2. Mark diagonal lines across the remaining cut ends to identify their centres
  3. Drill a hole into the centres of the remaining newel end
  4. Shape the cut ends of the old newel posts into a slightly convex contour
  5. Set the new posts on top of the cut newel, but don't glue them just yet.

For more specific information or help regarding our balustrade/staircase products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert sales team on 01691 671020 for further assistance.

4b - Fitting the rails

  1. Use a sliding bevel to measure the angle of the stair string where it meets the base of the newel
  2. Following the angle of string, hold the base rail against the staircase, and mark each end where it meets the newel posts
  3. Using a bevel and try square, mark out mitres at these points and cut the base rail to length
  4. Mark and cut the handrail in the same manner
  5. Screw the base rail to the string
  6. Using the handrail brackets, fit the handrail in place, taking up the slack with a spanner
  7. Check the newel posts are upright and the handrail and base rail both fit properly
  8. Glue the newel posts in place using a PVA woodworking adhesive (or if the joints are loose, use a gap-filling synthetic resin glue).
  9. Tighten the handrail bracket bolts
  10. (Once the glue has set) conceal the nuts using cover buttons.

4c - Fitting the spindles

    1. Firstly, calculate how many spindles you will need - the general rule of thumb is to allow 2 spindles per tread, and one spindle for the treads adjacent to the newel posts / Tip: Your spindles should be placed no more than 4 inches apart
    2. Calculate the number of infill fillets you require by doubling the number of spindles and adding 4
    3. Measure the vertical distance between the grooves in the handrail and base rail - using the sliding bevel to mark this dimension on the spindle
    4. Cut the spindle to size and check the fit. When happy, repeat with the remaining spindles
    5. Pin and glue the spindles and pre-cut spacer fillets in place
    6. When the adhesive is set (if you are using bare wood) apply a finish of paint, coloured wood dye or clear varnish,

For more specific information or help regarding our balustrade/staircase products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert sales team on 01691 671020 for further assistance.

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