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hyunelan2 03-14-2013 09:33 AM

Finishing these stairs: newel/balusters - plan of attack?
I'm not quite sure on the exact process to finish off these stairs, so before I take one step forward to take two steps back, I thought I'd ask.

First, a picture:

The stairs originally were walled all the way down, but the side walls were removed and cut-back to allow for open railing and balusters. The stairs will be carpeted.

So, how I'm thinking this goes is this, with some questions:
  • Paint the sides of the stairs (stringers)
  • Install finish boards on top of the sides - overhanging the drywall side. Do I overhang the stair side or make it flush with stringer?
  • Install newel posts at bottom, and half-newel at top
  • install balusters and hand rail. Do I need a shoe-rail to hold the ballusters or do they affix directly to the finish board?
  • Pad and carpet

Or scrap my whole list and let me know if there is a better plan of attack. I've never done newels and balusters so I'm not quite positive and am just starting to do the research.

joecaption 03-14-2013 09:59 AM

Question first, what's the over hang on those treads?
May need to add someting like this to get the needed over hang and rounded edge.

May want to look over this site for some install directions.

Going to have to use a 6 X 6 Newel post that get's installed first, then the wall cap that over hangs the drywall side by about 3/4" so you can use 1/2 1/4 round or upside down base cap to hind the seam between the dry wall and the cap. I like to have the overhang on the aprin side about 1/4"

hyunelan2 03-14-2013 10:13 AM

Thanks. For the newel placement, is there a "better' method, or is it simply architectual preference to put the newel at the bottom/on-top/50-50 with the stringer?

example pictures of newels:

joecaption 03-14-2013 10:29 AM

I'd never install it on top of the cap!
I also would only use a full thickness post.
It gets lag bolted in place with two lags.
You first use a forister bit to make a 1" hole, clearace drill a hole the rest of the way for the bolt through the post.
Once the post is bolted you use a 1" tapered plug to cap the hole.
Make 100% sure the post is plumb.

hyunelan2 03-14-2013 10:59 AM

That's the way my newel is attached upstairs, but those stairs have open stringers, so no cap or anything like that. I like the idea of full strength thickness for something that holds up the railing.

One more question: should this be done before or after the carpet is installed? On my upstairs stairs, the balusters go right through the carpet, so obviously the carpet was laid first. (Newel is on hardwood though, so I'm not sure).

joecaption 03-14-2013 07:05 PM

I'd install the railing or at least the Newel post first.
If you look around on some of the older post here and on most other DIY sites. There's no post asking how to carpet stairs, but dozens asking how to install soilid wood treads and risers.

Royal pain to have to run a vacuum up and down the stairs, simple to just sweep off the treads.

hyunelan2 03-14-2013 08:05 PM

Yeah, the upstairs are carpeted, so I know all about the vacuuming. No chance the wife is going for non-carpeted stairs.

Jason34 03-15-2013 11:22 AM

Since your stairs will be carpeted the tread overhang is fine. To be honest with you its actually pretty tough to get carpet wrapped tightly around the nose to the underside of the tread. Thats why alot of stairs are either slant back where the tread doesnt stick out past the face of the riser or they install champfer strips underneath (where cove moulding would be). Its all about preference on where you want the newel post to be placed but you can have the entire stair finished (newel post and balasters installed) before you do the carpet if you plan on doing it like the picture shows. If I was in your situation I would make that open side an open stair but that involves even more work.

hyunelan2 03-28-2013 11:22 AM

So, I have my supplies, but haven't finalized my plan of attack. After reading sooooooooo [deep breath] oooooo many different things on installing the parts, I am confident. However, there is one step that I have read so much conflicting information that I can't start.

Newel first or cap first? I am going to lap the newel about 1" into the knee wall, for decorative purposes. So, not a full half-lap, just enough to make it decorative and retain a lot of the post structure. Some things I have read here say to install the newel first, then cut the cap around it. Other threads I have read here say it's easier/better to install the cap along the top and perfectly plumb the cap on the front, then install the newel lapped on top of that.

Which is better?

FWIW, this picture basically shows the exact construction look I will be going-for.

Jason34 03-28-2013 02:32 PM

You do not need to have a overhang (nosing) on treads that will be fully carpeted. Its actually pretty tough to wrap carpet around the nose and underneath the tread and then down the riser and get that all tight. If you do have a nice nose say 1"+ you can install some cover or transfer strips to the underside so the carpet is easier to get tight. Another thing ive seen are whats called slant backs. There is no actual nose but the riser slants back a difference of an inch or so from tread to adjacent tread. The top of the tread would have a 1/2" round over to it.

hyunelan2 03-28-2013 03:22 PM

Yeah, I'm not worried about the carpeting on the stairs, those are fine the way they are. Just not sure what to do about the cap and newel. Talked to a building inspector here who used to do remodels in his former life. He said he'd put the cap on the top and front of the knee wall first, then install the newel. Unless I hear good reason to do otherwise, that's what I'm going to do.

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