Summary: Learn how to replace a balustrade, order a balustrade kit, remove a balustrade, install a new balustrade on a closed string staircase, fit the newel post, fit the base rail and handrail and fix the balusters.
A balustrade comprises of newel posts, a handrail, a base rail, fillets (wooden spacers that fit between the balusters) and balusters (the series of short posts supporting the handrail), which can be purchased as a balustrade kit. The type of kit you buy will depend on the type of staircase you have: open string or closed string.
Make sure the kit you choose contains the right number of balusters and the right length handrails and base-rails, although these can be trimmed down to size.
The fillets will be pre-cut to ensure that balusters are a maximum of 100mm (4in) apart. Measure the length of the fillets to determine how far apart the balusters will be placed, and therefore how many balusters you will need.
If you have no existing handrail to measure, to calculate the length of a new handrail, measure 900mm (3ft) up the wall from the front of each tread using a spirit level, and tie a length of string between these points to give you a straight line to measure. You should make sure the kit contains enough handrail brackets to place a bracket at 1m (3ft 3in) intervals.
All the above measurements are governed by current Building Regulations and must be complied with.
When sawing off the newel post ensure you do so at the correct height.
If you are intending to stain, prime or varnish parts of the balustrade, do this before you fix them in place.
Use a wooden mallet to gently knock the newel post into the hole but do not glue it yet.
Use an adjustable bevel gauge to accurately gauge the angle for the base rail.
With the base rail in place drill pilot holes about 300mm apart though it and into the string. Apply glue to the string and screw the base rail in position.
Mark diagonal cutting guidelines at both ends of the baluster, allowing for the groove depth in both the base rail and handrail.
Place a pre-cut fillet against the newel on the base rail, then position a baluster off-cut against the fillet and continue along the entire length of the base rail.
After attaching the end fillets the first baluster can be slid into place and pinned to both rails.
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