3 out of 5ModerateRequires mid-level carpentry skills—and patience
About $100 to $200
2 to 4 hours
In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares some tricks for installing a new, sturdy staircase railing.
Steps for Installing a Stair Railing
- Dismantle and remove the existing railing from the staircase.
- Use a homemade guide block to bore a 5/32-inch-deep x 1-inch-diameter hole over each baluster hole in the stair treads.
- Glue a 1-inch-diameter wood plug into each tread hole.
- Sand the plug flush with a random-orbit sander fitted with an 80-grit abrasive disk.
- Detach the rounded turn out section from the end of the old handrail.
- Set a new handrail in place on the staircase. Align the turn out with the end of the handrail, then mark a cut line onto the turn out.
- Cut the turn out to length on a miter saw.
- Drill holes for a railing bolt into the turn-out and handrail’s mating ends.
- Bore a 1-inch-diameter hole into the underside of the handrail to provide access to the railing bolt. And bore a ⅜-inch-diameter bolt-clearance hole into the end of the handrail.
- Fasten the railing bolt to the turn out using locking pliers.
- Insert the bolt end into the end of the handrail. Put a washer and nut onto the bolt.
- Spread glue into the joint between the turn out and handrail, then tighten the nut with an open-end wrench. Hand-sand the joint smooth with 100-grit sandpaper.
- Put a strip of painter’s tape across each tread, then use a framing square to mark the positions of the new balusters onto the tape strips.
- Set the handrail in position on the staircase, with its end against the spacer block.
- Transfer the position of each baluster to the handrail using a layout square.
- Drill 1-inch-diameter holes into the stair treads at each baluster location. Peel up the tape strips.
- Use a scrap piece of handrail, cut to the proper angle, as a drilling guide to bore ⅝-inch-diameter baluster holes into the underside of the handrail.
- Tap the balusters into the holes in the stair treads using a dead-blow mallet.
- Screw the spacer block to the wall to support the upper end of the handrail.
- Set the handrail on top of the balusters, carefully fitting each baluster into the appropriate hole in the underside of the handrail. Tap down the handrail with the dead-blow mallet.
- Fasten the upper end of the handrail to the spacer block with 3-inch long counter-bored screws. Conceal the screw holes with ⅜-inch-diameter wood plugs.