Renovating stairs with external newels

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justjen
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Renovating stairs with external newels

Post by justjen » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:15 pm

Hi,

I am renovating an old 1970s staircase. The kind which just has boards screwed onto the newels, with no conventional handrail and no base rail at all. I want to bring in spindles and a conventional handrail so that it meets regulations and also just looks better.

However, the newel posts are external to the stringer.
If looking at it from above, you would see the steps, then stringer and then the newel post "stuck" to the side of it.

This means that I can't just attach a base rail on top of the stringer, as it will end up to the side of the newel posts and not in-between. I would then have my handrail floating off to the side of the newel posts.

I do not want to move the newels, they are very sturdy and I am trying to limit the cost and effort. It will be very difficult to move them. Plus I am not an expert in carpentry and don't have much more than the basic home tool kit. No specialist equipment.

My idea for a solution is to mount a length of timber the same width as the newels, onto the side of the stringer and flush to the top of it. Screwing it in place directly into the stringer. Essentially, extending out the stringer into the area between the newel posts. This will give me a sturdy 'base' which I can then mount the baserail on to, and continue with a pretty standard installation from there. I've considered using a universal handrail fixing kit to fix this base into the newels as well, but I think that just screwing into the stringer would be sufficient. The stringer is thick and solid, it looks to be up to the job.

Before I do this, I wanted to check if anyone else had encountered this problem and if there were any other better solutions out there? Or if anyone could see any structural issue with my plan?
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ayjay
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Re: Renovating stairs with external newels

Post by ayjay » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:56 pm

justjen wrote:Hi,

I am renovating an old 1970s staircase. The kind which just has boards screwed onto the newels, with no conventional handrail and no base rail at all. I want to bring in spindles and a conventional handrail so that it meets regulations and also just looks better.

However, the newel posts are external to the stringer.
If looking at it from above, you would see the steps, then stringer and then the newel post "stuck" to the side of it.

This means that I can't just attach a base rail on top of the stringer, as it will end up to the side of the newel posts and not in-between. I would then have my handrail floating off to the side of the newel posts.

I do not want to move the newels, they are very sturdy and I am trying to limit the cost and effort. It will be very difficult to move them. Plus I am not an expert in carpentry and don't have much more than the basic home tool kit. No specialist equipment.

My idea for a solution is to mount a length of timber the same width as the newels, onto the side of the stringer and flush to the top of it. Screwing it in place directly into the stringer. Essentially, extending out the stringer into the area between the newel posts. This will give me a sturdy 'base' which I can then mount the baserail on to, and continue with a pretty standard installation from there. I've considered using a universal handrail fixing kit to fix this base into the newels as well, but I think that just screwing into the stringer would be sufficient. The stringer is thick and solid, it looks to be up to the job.

Before I do this, I wanted to check if anyone else had encountered this problem and if there were any other better solutions out there? Or if anyone could see any structural issue with my plan?
There's no structural problems with the method you're proposing, although I do fear that a very basic tool kit may not be enough to produce a good quality finish.

I've never used a "universal handrail fixing kit" so can't comment on how effective that would be, but fixed well to the string and also fixed with standard woodscrews into the newels will be sufficient.

I have to assume that you've worked out where the line of the handrail will be for the whole stairway and know that it works.

An alternative method without having to extend the string sideways would be to make a return mitre at each end of the handrail so that it does follow the existing string: put a baluster under each mitre and set out the remainder from those two, (I think this would look better than the offset balustrade).
One day it will all be firewood.
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