Safety and beauty when properly installing stair handrails
Let’s talk about installing stair handrails as part of the finish work. That’s cool stuff. The stair rail needs to be made very solid and stable for safety reasons. A hardwood handrail is usually very durable and beautiful. There are many kinds of handrail materials that are good quality.
The cutaway drawing below shows how the stair pieces all fit together. This is a stairway with a landing, which is very popular right now.
The drawing shows the newel post attached to the stringers in the stairway. This makes for a good stable fit.
The landing newel will be a really strong support for the rest of the stair railing. It will need to be braced very well.
The drawing below shows us how to connect the newel post to the handrail. You will need to drill a hole big enough to get a wooden plug into. A spade bit works best for that. The second drawing shows how to secure the stair treads if you need to.
I made my stairs and rails extra strong by putting in newel posts very securely, and then attaching the handrail with 4-inch lag screws.
I also attached each baluster with screws and glue and then reinforced each connection with oak plates on each side of the baluster.
It’s overkill, but as a kid I would always do Tarzan swings off the stairs and my kids will probably do the same. The photo below is my own stairs. They have held up extremely well.
As you can see in the photo below, I was able to secure the balusters with small plates of oak after screwing them in. This takes the pressure off the screws.
Try to use wood glue on every connection when you’re installing-stair-handrails because it really helps a lot. After the balusters are connected and screwed in place you will need to cover in the holes with a similar color of wood putty.
For the bigger holes where the lag screws are, it looks quite good to get plugs that are made of the same kind of wood of course. After all these are secure, you can sand any of the rough spots, and then stain the oak with two layers of Varathane.
You can find all the different types of stair assemblies at your hardware stores. All you have to do is take your measurements and they can get you all the parts you need.
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