How to Install a Curved Staircase Handrail

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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A curved stair railing allows you to create an intricate balustrade without newel posts in the center of the design. The lack of newel posts allows a continuous line from the top to the bottom of the stairway. Most woodworkers create curved solid wood stair railings on a custom basis and use techniques dating back to 1795.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

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

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  1. 1

    Order a custom designed solid wood handrail to get the best fit for your stairway. A woodworking shop specializing in handrails needs the sketched out elevation drawing for your stairway. If the sketch includes the baluster heights, the shop can cut these to fit and include them with your handrail.

  2. 2

    Secure 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

    Attach the handrails to the newel posts. Insert screws from the underside of the handrail into the newel posts for extra support.

  4. 4

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

  5. 5

    Make sure you like the spacing and drill holes in the handrail for the balusters. 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 mark the locations for the balusters on the handrails and may drill pilot holes.
  • Consider buying a kit with precut balusters to reduce the amount of work needed.

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