How to Install a Straight Staircase Handrail

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Most staircases use a stair railing to steady people as they descend the steps. With an enclosed hallway, a simple stair railing along the wall works. For open stairways, you need to install a stair railing known as a balustrade.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Newel posts
  • Balusters
  • Carriage bolts
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Drill
  • Miter saw, optional
  • Screws
  • Wood glue

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  1. 1

    Select the design features you want on your balustrade. Add character by choosing architectural features for the balusters, or spindles, and the newel post. The type of wood you use also adds to the design.

  2. 2

    Install the base newel posts, which anchor the stair railing. You should do this before carpet installation, if possible. For the most support, you need to install the newel posts through the floor and secure them under the house with a carriage bolt or wooden peg. Place newel posts at the top and bottom of the staircase.

  3. 3

    Secure the landing newel posts by anchoring them to the stair riser above the landing.

  4. 4

    Attach the handrails to the newel posts and measure for spindles. According to building code, the spindles must be less than 4 inches apart. Start in the middle of the rail and measure outward, placing masking tape to mark spindle locations.

  5. 5

    Drill holes for the spindles; make sure you like the spacing before you drill. You need to keep the angle for the spindles the same to provide a uniform look to your balustrade, which may require you to cut the ends with a miter saw.

  6. 6

    Use small screws and wood glue to attach the spindles. Wipe off any excess glue.

Tips and warnings

  • Many woodworking stores sell stair railing kits with installation directions and all the parts required.

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