Getting a Railing

This past Sunday was just a phenomenal day. Everything went perfectly, despite Mike's pessimistic, "This-is-going-to-suck-i-hate-you" attitude.

The plan, if you remember, included purchasing all the stair railing stuff from Home Depot and installing as much of it as humanly possible in one Sunday. (With the deepHo card paid off and in the clear, I had no problem whatsoever making a purchase over 299 that I would be a year in the clear over.)

When we originally did the upstairs hardwood floors last year, we purchased some stair railing stuff. Three newels with trim, one baluster with trim, and the oak board that all would attach to. But we never got further than installing the oak board, cutting the holes for the newels, and staining the newels. (Newels by the way = posts.)

The balusters I wanted were the black iron ones with the cool swirly designs in the middle, and we had purchased just one to check it out, see how it would look and attach - all that fun stuff. That first time around, I also grabbed a "How-to-Install-These-Things" info brochure.... which then sat aside like everything else for dam near a year.

But, if you remember, railings (or lack thereof throughout the house) were near the top of our new home insurance's list of Stuff To Be Fixed. So, with the card paid and the exterior work on hold, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to tackle this project.

First step - figure out what the heck we needed. Lucky for me, I had saved that "How-to-Install-These-Things" info brochure... And - amazingly - remembered where I had put it! But the brochure only provided some info - for the real deal, we went to the company's website where they had compete print out instructions. Very handy!

So the standard height for the railing had to be between 36" and 41" and the distance between the balusters on a straight run had to be 4" on center. On the stairs, there would be two balusters per stair. Ok cool.

We did some measuring and counting and ended up with a total of 46 balusters. Plus we needed top and bottom trim pieces for each baluster, several sections of railing (at 10', 7', and 3'), hardware to attach railing to newel, a rosette for where the railing meets the wall, some drill attachments, more oak board for our top landing, more stain, and, just for the fun of it, I figured we could get a simple pole-type railing for the basement stairs plus the little railing holder things while we were there.

Wow - does that seem like a lot to you? Because for some reason or another I was worried about making the 299 at the deepHo. HA! Do you know how much just one of those cool iron balusters with the swirly things on it costs?! Nearly $9 a piece. $9 times 46 of them. HAHAHAHAHAAHA! Plus all that other stuff.

Yup. It was around $800 for the whole shebang. Can you believe it? They should make discount packs of the balusters - who ever buys just one anyway?! If we didn't need a railing for the over-the-stairs balcony, the whole thing would have been much more cost effective. We would have only needed 19 balusters. Such is life. You don't think about these things when you're designing your upstairs. You say, "Oh I'll worry about that later."

Anyway - as I said, I was ok with the whole thing after just paying off the card. No sweat.

Back home, we got to work. Our plan was to fit and test and drill everything - then, take it all back apart for staining. It was a lot of work, but pretty much everything went smoothly.

We installed the newels, then measured and marked every 4" for balusters. Then we drilled a 5/8" hole on each mark and stuffed all the balusters in. (Tight fit!)

Next, we measured out and cut the right length of railing and repeated the same 4" measuring, marking, and drilling to match the baluster holes in the floor.Then, we pre-drilled and attached the railing to the newels and double checked the baluster fit. Everything looked great.

We repeated the process on the small 3' section, but added a rosette at one end that would attach to the wall.

It was late in the afternoon at this point and everything was looking great. So we took it all apart. The railings and newels came out, the oak bottom piece came out, and all the balusters were set aside. We brought all the wood downstairs and Mike gave everything a first coat of stain while I cleaned up all the saw dust and wood shavings upstairs.

Nothing else we could do until the stain dried anyway. Plus it would all need a second coat. But since everything is pre-drilled and ready to rock - we shouldn't have any problems getting it up and installed for real this week!

The actual stairs will present different challenges. And, unfortunately, since I spilled paint on them and let it set for a million days - it won't clean off. So we have to sand and refinish all the stair treads. What a pain. But once that's done, figuring out the baluster heights and cutting them shouldn't be so hard. The info brochure outlined a pretty cool method that even I thought I could figure out. Plus, we have a metal chop saw already, so cutting the iron is no big deal either.

I figure we could tackle all that in a day too.... who knows which day....