How to replace balusters to update stair railings

Hello friends! I’m really excited about today’s post because it means we’ve successfully upgraded our stair railings and replaced our own. And I’m sharing a step-by-step tutorial of how we did exactly that in this post!

Thanks to DAP Products for partnering with me on this post.

If you’re next to me, you might remember it when you shared a file A “before” tour of our new home Before we moved in, I was pretty nervous about how traditional some of the elements of the house are. Two of my biggest concerns were: 1) the coffered ceiling in the dining room and 2) the stair railing. We beat the traditional coffered ceiling In our dining room By giving it a new look with wallpaper. But updating the stair railing felt even more intimidating and terrifying. We have dealt with a DIY staircase makeover before by replacing the rug on the stairs in our old house with wooden steps (and surprisingly easy). But tearing up the iron balusters and replacing them? Yikes. It seemed difficult.

Turns out that replacing your balustrade/handrail is totally possible As a DIY project. It’s time consuming, but it’s really not difficult. Even beginners in DIY crafts should be able to complete this project. So let’s get into the details. First, let’s talk about the different parts of staircase and stair railings.

stair railing parts

this is Schematic diagram of Stair-Parts Useful for understanding the different parts of staircase and stair railings. People sometimes refer to balusters and ‘spin shafts’.

What parts of stair railing can you replace it?

You can replace as much as you want! this video It shows you how to replace the balusters, new post, and handrails, so if you’re looking to replace everything, definitely check it out. But if you’re like us and really want to give your stair railings an updated look without having to replace everything, you’ve come to the right place! The new fenders and posts were in really good condition and I knew painting them would update them enough to our liking. It really was the ancient iron balustrade This was not our style at all. So if you’ve ever wondered, “Can you just replace the spinners?” The answer is yes! We just replaced our own railings and did this without having to disassemble the entire stair railing.

This is what our staircase used to look like (it’s also a fun reminder of how we work dinner room And the kitchen used to look).

Here is a view of the old stair railing in the upstairs lobby.

How to replace stair balusters

the required materials

Video overview

I highly recommend watching the short video below for an overview of the project before reading the detailed instructions. The instructions will definitely make more sense if you watch the video first 🙂

Step 1 – Remove existing shafts or spindles

We were concerned about removing the existing iron railing because it was glued on the bottom where it met the steps of the ladder and at the top where it connected to the railing. Fortunately, we realized that if we cut the iron railing with the reciprocating saw and This metal cutting bladesThen we can get enough leverage by using our channel lock pliers to break the glue seal and get it out right away. Removing 65 of the fenders was more difficult than anything else, but it wasn’t really that difficult. Just make sure you have a good, sharp blade before you start! If you are removing wooden balusters, it will be faster to make cuts.

Step 2 – Clean the old holes And resize it if needed

We decided to stick to the same baluster spacing so we could reuse the existing holes left over from the old iron balusters. If this is the case for you, you need to make sure that the old holes in your stairs and handrails are clean And the They are the correct size for your new balustrades. This may mean that you need to drill holes to make it a little bigger. We had to use a Forstner bit to make the bottom holes a little bigger, but the holes in the handrail were the right size. Or you may just need to drill the same size holes to clean them out and remove any old glue. The size of the holes you need depends largely on the specific balusters you choose.

Step 3 – Paint the new balustrades and stair railings/handrails

I can’t stress this enough… Do whatever it takes to paint the stair railing after, after Remove old balusters/iron spindles and Before New install. It’s easier to do without having to paint around the spinners! You should also paint new balusters before installing them. we used paint sprayer And the paint shelter To do this it took no more than 30 minutes in total (excluding drying time). Painting everything before installation meant we only had minor tweaks after installation. We also painted our stair lifts before installing the new handrails. Bottom line, draw as much as we can after, after Remove old iron balusters and Before Installing new wooden spindles has made painting a billion times easier.

Step 4 – Cut the new balusters to length (if needed)

I learned a lot about balusters while we were preparing for this project. Since our balustrade design is 3 columns per stair, we needed 3 different lengths of balusters for the stair railing. The balustrades come in standard heights so we ordered heights that were as close as possible to what we needed. We ordered balusters in the following lengths to replace the balusters along the stair railing: 34, 36, and 39. We also had to order some in length 41 to replace the balusters around the new post. Although we ordered lengths as close to the final length as possible, we still had to cut them to get just the right size. Miter saw our compound Make it quick and easy, but you can simply do it Manual and miter square saw If you don’t have one.

Step 5 – Place and attach the new balusters

These balusters gather braid we have chosen You have a 3/4″ “pin” at the bottom that sits in the hole in the tray handles. The top of the railing measures 5/8″ and fits right in the old holes in the stair railing. Since we were attaching wood balusters to wood balusters and handrails, we needed a high quality wood glue. We covered the holes with a good layer of Dub Weldwood Original Wood Glue before placing it.

Since we didn’t remove the old stair railing we had to carefully put the top of the railing into the railing first and then we could slide the lower pin into place. The reason this works is that the depth of the holes in the balustrade allows a little extra room above the top of the balustrade. We also added a pair of screws at the top of the balusters because the diameter of the old balustrade holes was slightly larger than the diameter of the new balusters – the screws just ensured the balustrade couldn’t wobble into a hole at all.

If you haven’t already watched the video that gives an overview of this project, you really should so you can see exactly what I’m talking about. Scroll back to find the video right below the list of materials needed to complete this project.

This is it! Our stair railing looks totally updated and it’s totally our style now! I love how the new stair railing looks from this view where you can see our entrance and our entrance Fun Family Photo Gallery Wall.

Two days after we took the photo above, we installed a DIY stair runner and couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. You may also notice that we have installed a file DIY Panel and Accent Wall, which was a continuation of the installation we did in the upstairs lobby. And do you see how much brighter it is upstairs now? These are not lights! here they are VELUX Sun Tunnels We recently installed (there was no natural light in the hallway before – it is now flooded with natural light)!

Just a little different than it looked before, huh?!

Now, I’m sure you probably have a few questions, so let me cover some of the frequently asked questions I’ve received.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is replacing stair railings expensive?

Well, this is a bit personal. So I will just tell you how much it costs us to update our stair railings by replacing the balusters. Doing the work ourselves saved us a lot of money on installation. Balustrades + shipping cost us $570. With paint, new blades for our oscillating tool, plus wood glue, etc, I’d say this project came in at about $700. not bad for completely A new look that really looks good with the rest of our decor! Replacing the stair railing and/or new posts would make this more expensive. This is one of the reasons we chose Not to replace those components.

Is it difficult to replace the handrail? Can I replace the handrail myself?

Overall, this project was easier than I expected. It is time consuming, but not difficult. Even if we replace the handrails and put the handrails back Like in this videoI would still say this is a totally doable DIY project.

What paint do you use?

We were Sherwin Williams Emerald Designer Edition In color shelter for walls and stair risers. We were Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel In seaworthy color for balustrades and handrails. We chose urethane paint because it creates a hard, durable finish that withstands a lot of wear and tear. Guy Sherwin Williams explained that it dries 7 times harder than regular latex paint.

What is the biggest tip/takeaway for replacing balusters?

I have three main takeaways/tips from this project. First, do everything you can to paint the stair railing after, after Remove old balusters/iron spindles and before that New install. It’s easier to do without having to paint around the spinners! And paint new balusters Before Install them as well! Second, unless you hate the placement/spacing of old balusters, stick to the same placement so you can avoid having to patch a bunch of holes. It is possible to use wooden stoppers to fill in the holes left by old spindles, but you will be able to see where the patches are. Third, unless you hate handrails, I also recommend against installing new handrails. You will save a lot of time and money by using your existing handrails.

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