Replace Your Existing Wooden Balusters With
Powder Iron Balusters For a Visual Upgrade
USA, with added comments by NH
Iron spindles, also known as
can be replaced to upgrade and beautify your home. There are quite a few
different styles available online. Some of the more beautiful and functional
styles are currently available at the author's website.
Interested in doing it yourself?? Installation is easier than you might
think, especially if you are replacing existing wood balusters. The following steps take you from
concept to completion!
Visit a design center to decide on styles and
Some websites offer
virtual staircase builders, such as
Indital USA. If you go to the
physical showroom of a local stair
builder or some lumberyards or home stores that carry iron balusters, bring a rough draft of your plans, or, better yet, a photo
of your existing staircase.
Count how many the spindles that you need and decide what design and color you
want for your new iron spindles.
There are many decorative coatings in the
marketplace. Replacing softwood, carpeted treads with a hardwood tread may impact
your color choice for the baluster coating, as well as the length of the
Also, remember to consider spacial
limitations in your choice of baluster. For example, the
design looks great but might not fit in some installations if the balusters are
too closely spaced.
It is not necessary, from a mechanical or aesthetic point of view, to replace
the bottom post on your wooden railing. Leaving the original base post
(graphic below), rather than replacing it with an iron post, will keep your
railing system as strong or stronger than the original!
choose the correct size spindle shoes. (See graphic above and
right) The shoes will cover up the rough, damaged or unfinshed areas at the top
and bottom of the baluster left from removal of the original wooden baluster. The width of the shoe must cover that space. Shoes come with different size holes to fit the diameter of
Now that you have your materials, time to remove the old balusters...
After placing a drop cloth/masking (if needed) to protect furniture, home decor
and electronics from sawdust, cut the wood balusters in the middle using a jig-saw or reciprocating
saw. Hold the wood baluster firmly when cutting to prevent damage to the
stair tread or underside of the railing. Wiggle and/or twist the cut baluster to loosen
it, as it may be glued and/or
nailed, depending on the original contractor's preference.
Examine the holes for any nails, wood filler or glue. Use pliers to remove any nails.
Depending on the baluster size, you may need to use a chisel or drill to clean
our residual wood, filler or glue. Any small defects still visible after the
iron baluster installation can be repaired with colored putty or wax.
You can use your existing rail (if it is a simple hole; not a plowed rail
with filet) or for new rails drill based on local spacing code requirements. You
can use a pencil to mark on the new rail after using a measuring tape. Drill
holes to accommodate no deeper than 1-1/2" on the rail and the tread.
Important: Always cut the new iron baluster approximately
1/2" longer than the distance from the tread
to the rail to accommodate the insert portion of the baluster into the rail and
tread. Cut from the bottom to fit to size depending on the rake of the stairs or
balcony height. Never cut at the pin-top or doweled end, which is the top.
When in doubt about the precise length, play it safe and cut the baluster a
little long and trim it if it doesn't fit. They won't grow back!!!!
Use a high-grade, thick 2-part epoxy for the top rail hole and bottom
Choose an epoxy that is a putty when mixed, not a flowing liquid, to keep the mess to a
minimum. A brand NH has used with success on many projects is
PC Woody, a two-part epoxy that is thick enough to hold the
balusters straight without clamping but allows repositioning for over a
half-hour, depending on the temperature. Common denatured alcohol will
remove any uncured epoxy.
It is neither necessary nor desirable to fill the
holes to the top with the epoxy. Just put enough to stabilize the
baluster. After the epoxy sets, you can finish filling the upper or lower
holes with more epoxy or another wood filler, if desired.
Insert the doweled or pin-top end into the rail portion first and then the
bottom part into the tread. (If installing an upper shoe, be sure to put
it onto the baluster before inserting it!!)
Prior to fastening the bottom to the tread slip an
iron shoe over the spindle. Once the bottom is fastened, slide the shoe down to
fit tightly against the tread. Usually the shoes come with set screws that can
be tightened with an Allen wrench against the spindle. Use pitched shoes for
rakes with pony walls or flat shoes for cut stringers or balconies.
Check the level of the balusters before the epoxy sets, usually within an
hour, though check the label on your epoxy to be sure of the setting time!
You're done! Enjoy your remodeled staircase! For a wide selection of
iron products, Indital USA