There is currently a shelf type guard rail in my attic. It needs some repairs and painting as seen in the pictures at the end of this post.
I am considering replacing it with a baluster type guard rail for aesthetics, either wooden and stained to match the new trim or stainless steel, depending on cost/difficulty.
However if repairing the existing shelf guard rail proves to be significantly cheaper/easier I would be more apt to pursue that option.
Note that I am renovating the attic head to toe and will need to both paint and carpet this room.
My questions are as follows:
1. Emphasising cost/difficulty, in your opinion would you recommend to keep the existing shelf guard rail or replace it with a baluster type?
2. What measurements/planning is needed to install the baluster guard rail/can the measurements be taken to Menards for them to determine needed parts?
3. What is the preferable order of operations if replacement is in order? (I would think that this should be done BEFORE painting and carpeting the room)
Installing newel posts, guardrail and ballusters is not an entry-level DIY project. It will take some skill to get it done, but is certainly possible.
The biggest challenge is getting the newel posts anchored to the floor joists beneath the floor sheathing. This will usually be accomplished by blocking between the joists and of course removal of a little floor sheathing so the work can happen. Otherwise it'll be loose as heck and will fail code and feel cheap and poorly done. The guard has to resist a 200 pound lateral (leaning) load.
The rest is just layout. Remember that your ballusters have to prevent passage of a 4" sphere at all points between them. The top of the guardrail has to be at least 36" above the floor.
Another option might be to consider having a wrought-iron rail made in one piece. It could probably be screwed right down to the floor.
As for Menards figuring your materials.... Rarely a good idea. It isn't hard to figure the materials yourself now that you know the spacing you need to achieve.