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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Stair Makeover – Changing Newel Posts

Turned and Box Newel Posts

Newel posts are the largest component of a staircase.  Because of the size and complexity of newel posts, they are also often one of the most expensive parts in the balustrade.  It is for this reason that the newel post doesn’t always match the scope and style of the railing system.  Simply put, while you do need posts, they don’t necessarily have to be large, luxurious ones.  Also, because railing systems often come near the end of projects, if it wasn’t considered early on, people often go over their budgets on other items and no longer have the money to spend on the balustrade.

Many people decide to save a little money by downgrading the newel posts in their balustrade, so as home upgrades are considered, newel posts can be a good place to start. Changing newel posts is an easy and inexpensive method of upgrading the look of your banister.  Replacing the starting posts of the stair requires very little skill.  The existing posts are removed, the new posts are cut to length and are then installed.  Newel posts can be pre-finished, or they can be finished after installation. The new posts may be similar in style, or they may be a completely different type  of post.  For example, turned newel posts may be replaced with box newel posts  and vice versa.

How to Stop a Baluster from Rattling

Iron Baluster Closeup

We receive calls on a fairly regular basis from customers who want to know how to stop loose balusters from rattling. It is a common occurrence for both dowel top wood balusters and wrought iron balusters, and there is an amazingly simple solution, but I’ll get to that shortly.  First, let it be known that even professional installations occasionally result in a loose baluster or two, so don’t be too hard on yourself or whoever installed the balustrade.  If the system as a whole is structurally sound and a quality product, don’t worry too much about one or two loose balusters.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to live with rattling every time you walk up the stairs.

Dowel Top Baluster NailMost balusters, wood or iron, are installed into holes in the floor or shoe plate and into the handrail.  This is true as long as they have a dowel top.  Usually wood balusters are installed with a small amount of wood glue in the hole and a finishing nail.  Sometimes the finish nail can curve up into the hole and not actually penetrate the handrail, or a hard bump can even break the glue-joint.  The best way to fix a rattling wood baluster is to simply re-nail it.  This is done by shooting a finish nail into the baluster where it meets the handrail.  The nail goes through the dowel top and into the handrail on the opposite side.  However, there is another method if you don’t have a finish nail gun or if you have wrought iron spindles: a toothpick.  Yep, that is the professional secret to securing loose balusters.  Wood toothpicks are perfect miniature shims for this application.