Before embarking on replacing your stair balustrade you should familiarise yourself with the relevant UK Building Regulations. Currently the key points of UK Building Regulations require the following:
You need to establish if you need to replace your existing newel bases with new ones or if you can cut down your existing newel posts to form a newel base for your replacement newel posts. Before removing any existing newel bases please check to form they don’t form a structural part of your staircase design. If in any doubt please contact our team of experts for guidance.
First you should mark the pitch line of your stairs on the inside face of your bottom newel base. You can achieve this by placing a straight edge over the nosings of you stair treads. Once done proceed to mark a vertical line along the centre of the newel base. Where the two lines intersect measure up approx 270 – 275 mm to establish the cut off point. For the top newel base repeat the process but measure up approx 210mm to establish the cut off point and 280mm for intermediate newels.
It is essential that the cut is square in order than the replacement newel posts sit perfectly level on the base. Also you can chamfer the edges of the base if desired in order to achieve a more decorative finish.
If you decide to remove your existing bases completely or are using complete newel posts as replacements you need to fit them centrally to the string of the stairs and ensuring the front face of the stairs riser is central also.
You will need to shape the newel base / complete newel post to allow it to fit snugly onto the string of your stairs. This can be quite time consuming but it is necessary to ensure a secure and stable fit. You can fit the bases / newels by bolting them, screwing them or dowel & gluing them to the string of the stairs.
When fitting newel turnings to existing cut down newel bases you will need to bore a 50mm diameter hole in the top of the base to allow the peg on the bottom of the post to slot in. New newel bases tend to come pre-drilled with these holes which can be a time saver.
The best method is to use a 50mm diameter hole saw to drill into the base and removing the waste material with a flat spade drill bit and a chisel. Once the bases are ready the newel post can be installed by slotting the peg into the hole and securing it with woodworking glue. Prior to gluing perform a dry fit to ensure that the post fits securely. You may need to enlarge the hole in the base on some occasions.
It is important to ensure that the newel post is perfectly vertical.
In order to install your baserail onto the string of your stairs you will need to cut your rail to the required length and then cut the both ends of the baserail to match the angle of your staircase. The best way to determine the angle of your stairs is to use an adjustable bevel which can be purchased at most DIY stores & tool stockists. Take the time to ensure a clean and accurate cut.
Once the baserail has been cut to the correct angle & length you need to fit it to the string of your stairs using a combination of woodworking glue and 32mm No 8 wood screws spaced a no greater than 300mm centres.
In the same way as you cut the ends of your baserail to the angle of your staircase now do the same with your handrail. Again an adjustable bevel is an easy and accurate method of doing this.
The handrail can be fitted to your newel posts either by using a handrail fixing bracket or using the mortise and tenon joint technique. The Fixing Brackets are ideal for a DIY’er as they offer an easier and quicker method than constructing a mortise and tenon joint, however professional installers tend to prefer the mortise and tenon method as they have the necessary tools and experience to quickly and easily construct the joint giving a professional and strong finish.
When installing your handrail bear in mind the minimum handrail height you need to achieve to conform to UK Building Regulations – currently 900mm high for domestic properties and 1100mm high for commercial / communal properties & gallery landings.
Next it’s time to install your Stair Spindles. First they need to be cut to the required length and to the angle of your staircase. By offering a spindle against the baserail and handrail you can determine both the height and the angle of the cut needed. Once you have completed your first spindle you can use this as a template for your remaining spindles.
Spindles should be fitted to the handrails / baserails by slotting into the grooves and then using a combination of woodworking glue and cross pinning to achieve a secure fix. Once the spindles have been fitted you can install the fillets between each spindle to cover the exposed groove in the handrails and baserails.
When fitting your spindles take care to ensure that the correct spacing is achieved as required by UK Building Regulations.
If your landing returns on itself i.e. runs back in the same direction as your stairs you can use a 90° horizontal turn coming off the top newel post to return the handrail back in the same direction as the stairs. Alternatively if you have enough material left from your handrails you can metre two pieces together to create your own horizontal turn. You can fit the horizontal turn to the newel post using either a fixing bracket or the mortise and tenon joint technique depending on your preference.
If your landing runs at right angles to your stairs or runs straight ahead a horizontal turn is not needed.
Where the handrail ends against a wall on the landing you use a half newel post & base. Simply cut the half newel base to the correct size and fit both it and the newel post to the wall by drilling, plugging and screwing to achieve a secure fix. You will need to fit the handrail to the newel post prior to fixing the post to the wall.
As with the staircase you fit the baserail to the landing floorboards using the same combination of woodworking glue and 32mm No 8 screws spaced at no greater than 300mm centres.
Spindles are fitted in the same manner as when fitting to the stairs.
If you need any help or advice fitting your stairparts please call our team of experts who will be happy to help you.