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RomanDesign 10-10-2012 10:47 AM

Crooked Railing
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I'm trying to find a solution to my crooked wood railing. The house has settled I've the years and balausters have shifted and popped out. Previous owners have tried to do quick fixes (ie. placing a nailing strip at base of balausters to try and straighten them out) but they just haven't done the job.
I thought the solution might be putting a Newell post in at the top and adjoining the railings to it. I purchased an old Newell post that I was going to install (as seen in Pictures) but after popping the floor board up to install it, I realized I would have to cut into a structural member just to secure the post (which I obviously don't want to do).
I considered boring a 1.5x4"rectangular hole in one of the members maybe 3-4"deep, filling it with PL premium and then inserting 1.5x4" portion of Newell post, shimming it level and waiting for it to dry. Then I would attach the railing to the sides of the Newell post (having cut the section out previously of course). Wanted to check in before I did this however.
Other option which seems more feasible is keeping the railing continuous and propping up the existing balausters -- over time they have settled into their holes and as a result the railing has become crooked.
I would prefer to keep the railing continuous and not cut into it to install a Newell Post.
Final pictures taken (last 3) was propping a balauster under the railing on solid wood rather than set into a hole

Millertyme 10-10-2012 04:30 PM

The main cause of your problem is that there is no lateral support for the handrail. Typically would have a newel mounted securely at the top of the stairs and that will help anchor your rail laterally. Unless some of those balusters are mounted deep into the floor, which I doubt. It's such a nice piece of curved rail there and would hate to cut the rail to attach a post there, but it would help the problem. Just an idea, but you could put the post on the balcony where the straight rail begins. There should be a joint there anyway and you could pop the joint there and cut the straight rail back. The post could be attached with a half lap over the balcony and screwed into the header.

Keith Mathewson 10-10-2012 05:26 PM

This is a geometric stair which was never intended to have a newel and never should. It is designed with a well hole and is a good example to anyone designing a staircase how the appearance is greatly enhanced by separating the two flights.

Check to see how the balusters are attached to the treads. There is a good chance that they are dovetailed into the treads. If so they should be amply strong enough to support the handrail. If the house has settled you may wish to consider replacing the balusters with period appropriate balusters. Do not change the pitch of the handrail fitting but fit the balusters to it. In todays market that fitting would cost between $2000 and $3000.

RomanDesign 10-12-2012 11:00 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Thank you for your replies. I decided against installing a Newell Post because of your advice and a gut feeling I had -- didn't want to ruin the continuous rail. I simply installed some new wood shims underneath the ballusters to help prop up the railing and bring it straight again. It's not perfectly straight but it's a lot better than it was.

Keith Mathewson 10-12-2012 05:37 PM

2 Attachment(s)
It appears that you are doing an extensive remodel and if the budget allows I would suggest either finding some matching balusters to replace the ones on the landing or replacing all of them. The pad that was attached to the bottom of the balusters will not have any strength to it. In addition exam the tread return on one of the treads, pick one up high where it is harder to see from the entry. Most likely the return is nailed on and can be removed without damage. look to see if the balusters are dovetailed into the treads, if they are and there are gaps between the baluster and tread shims can be driven into the gap significantly stiffing the whole balustrade. If you choose to replace the balusters each baluster needs to be fitted to that particular tread and no other. They have to be cut by hand, it is not that difficult to do provided you have some experience using a dovetail saw.

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