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Handrail & Staircase Installation

How do you tighten a loose stair ra...
How do you tighten a loose stair railing?

Staircase & Handrail Installation

If you purchase a high-quality staircase and provide accurate dimensions as called for by the stair builder, your staircase will install with no problems.

Plan on having two or three people handy, some clamps and an assortment of power tools. There will be no need for precise drilling on the stair parts. This will already be completed.

The most important thing to do is to take whatever time is necessary to read the directions from cover to cover. Then, hand them to your Number One assistant and make them read the instructions. Sure, this may take an extra 15 minutes, but it will pay off.

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CLICK this image and listen to the second call on the podcast. I talk to Tracey about how to find traditional stair parts and who to install them. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Do exactly as the stair builder says. Do not take shortcuts. If you begin to assemble the handrail and skip a step, you may be unable to install one piece or another. Sometimes you cannot go back a step!

Above all, take your time. Patience will be rewarded with a beautiful installation.


Many stair builders suggest that their products be finished as rapidly as possible. You may be required to perform hand sanding to give the railing and all parts a really smooth feel.

Ask the manufacturer to supply you with scrap pieces of handrail and or fittings for test staining purposes. Test various stains, let them dry and then apply the finish of choice to see which color you will like. Don't experiment on your finished handrail!!

The key to finishing lies in the amount of hand sanding. The smoother the wood prior to staining, the better it will look when complete. It may be to your benefit to sand many of the pieces prior to assembly. This will eliminate the hard to sand spots where one stair part meets another. If you choose to do this, you need to constantly work with clean hands to avoid smudges on the wood.

All that will be required when complete is a quick finish sanding. Be sure to sand between coats of urethane. Plus, consider applying four to five coats of urethane for a long-lasting finish.


Would you like a really unique handrail system? One that will be the envy of your friends and neighbors? It's easy to do. All you need to do is use the balusters (commonly referred to as spindles) in your handrail system as a decorative element.

Balusters come in various shapes and styles. Many of them are the same basic shape, but with alternate carvings or turnings. My wife designed our handrail system. It always is the center of attention when someone enters our house.

She used three different kinds of balusters in our system. They simply repeat as you go up or down the staircase (1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3......) It is a very dramatic effect. You can also install three balusters per tread for a dramatic look. Most staircases only have two. The last old house I lived in had three per step. It was extremely distinctive and beautiful.

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