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Thread: Loose stair rail

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Greenwood, SC
    Posts
    240

    Loose stair rail

    Anyone know how to tighten a loose stair rail post? It's the end post of a railing that guards the stairway opening to our basement. It's quite wobbly now after years of two boys swinging around it to get down the stairs! There doesn't seem to be any bolts or screws going up into the bottom of it from below (looking up from the unfinished side of the basement). Could it have just been toe-nailed? I was thinking of using the pocket Kreg and drive some really long screws down into the flooring.
    Dave on Lake Greenwood, SC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    2,160
    It is quite possible that it was only toe nailed in, (thats old school) but very common. The pocket screws may help, but make sure the sub floor or joist that you are screwing it into is not moving also. Blocking under the floor will help if that is the situation. Any picture of the situation would help in giving advice.
    If you can get under, a lag screw up into the newel post can also help.

    Richard

  3. #3
    It could have a newel lock under it, which doesn't show. Maybe it has loosened over the years. Need pics.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Mont. Co. MD
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    973
    We need pictures. There may be a better fix. The best way would be to securely anchor it to the substructure below. If you can get to the interior of the post by removing a cap, you could anchor it with all-thread rod. Anchor the all-thread using a threaded lag bolt (aka furniture bolt) which has wood screw threads on one end, and machine screw threads on the other, Join the two using a coupling nut. You still have to build a support structure inside the post to have something to tighten the all-thread against. 3/8"-16 All thread would be a minimum size to use.

    I hate to quote this, but Tom Silva did a repair like this on one of the episodes of "Ask This Old House". You might find a better write-up on their site.

  5. #5
    I would be looking to lag that post to the flooring at the very least. At the most, I would install blocking between the joists it rests between and then bolt it to that blocking. Doing it this way, you end up with a very secure post.
    Jeff Sudmeier

    "It's not the quality of the tool being used, it's the skills of the craftsman using the tool that really matter. Unfortunately, I don't have high quality in either"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Greenwood, SC
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    240
    Thanks guys! I just checked out the This Old House site, and they actually have a video of Tom Silva tightening one up with threaded rod. You guys are the best!
    Dave on Lake Greenwood, SC

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Greenwood, SC
    Posts
    240

    Tom Silva didn't help after all

    After watching the video at work, I got all excited about how I'd repair the newel post. Well, I get home and take a peek at the offender and it isn't a boxed in newel, but a solid piece of something or other! It still looks like it's just toe-nailed. Anyway, here's a couple of pics that may help you help me! Thanks guys.

    Oh, the three small holes are from were a baby gate was attached.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Dave on Lake Greenwood, SC

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Vermont
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    2,295
    I might remove the molding and see if i could drive some screws in at an angle in a way that I could cover the heads with the molding.I would assume this NOT to be the correct way to fix it, but its what I would try. Of course be aware of where the carpet is, so you don't catch a thread and cause a run in your carpet. DAMHIKT.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    La Habra Hts., CA
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    702
    First, I would take off the molding and take a peek!
    Jerry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Concord, NC
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    Okay, not my favorite fix, but, Home Depot and Lowe's sell a set of L shaped brackets that are designed to attach a post to the floor. Remove the cove molding at the base of the post, the brackets get screwed to the floor and to the post. Included in the kit is speacial molding that covers up the brackets. Do not assume that these brackets are just everyday L shaped metal, the kit is sold in the stair and railing department and is designed to flush mount a post to the floor.
    The real professional way to repair your situation would be to replace the post with a new one. This would entail lifting the rug, cutting open the floor, mounting the post to a floor member or blocking that is attached to a floor member. Reinstall your floor and rug.
    The situation that you have there, a long run that terminates at a post is always going to be a weak spot and installing it correctly would be your best option.

    Richard

  11. #11
    Dave. What is under is trim molding is a flat metal plate, attached to the floor and newel post. Those types never were really tight like a newel lock assembly. I would say the the screws are loose. For a temp fix, remove molding and tighten the screws up.
    I do this for a living, and run into this type of stuff.


  12. #12
    I can not imagine that newel just sits on top of the subfloor. When I install a
    newel, I cut a hole in the subfloor and run it down so that I can bolt it to the
    rim around the stair hole. Do you see a stub sticking down along the outside
    of the opening below?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Greenwood, SC
    Posts
    240
    That's the weird thing. It looks like the post goes through the subfloor, but I can't see where or how far it goes down into the floor. When I look from below, all I see is a beam (2 2x10s) directly under it. I didn't find any metal plate under it either. I wound up using the Kreg and sinking 3" screws into it. It's definitely much more solid now! I then used some of the Kreg plugs, chiseled, sanded, and restained it. I think it's as good as it's going to get. As usual, thanks for all the help!
    Dave on Lake Greenwood, SC

  14. #14
    I very highly doubt that it was toenailed. If it were, it would have been loose within the first week of living there.

    I too do this for a living, and I would have to guess it is either a plate under the post screwed from above in to the subfloor, or most likely a keylock. Best course of action is to remove the handrail from the post, then figure out how to remove the post. If it is a keylock, you tap the post in 1 direction ( you will have to figure it out) and the post will move about 1" and then it can be pulled strait up.

    Now, if it is a keylock, there are two things that can make the post become loose. First is the plate that is screwed to the floor is no longer tight. Screws are probably stripped, add blocking from the basement and use bigger and longer screws. This would be the same course of action if it is just a plate screwed to the bottom of the post and screwed to the floor.

    Next would be the lag bolt in the post has stripped. Either try to find a slightly thicker bolt (watching that the head of the lag bolt is the same) or drill out center of post, dowel and glue, then redrill and install lag.

    Those are my best guesses, if you get it apart, or can figure out what is actually holding it down, we can help you more.

    Brew

  15. #15
    after looking at your pic a little closer, it looks like there might be a plug on the side of the newel. take a closer look and see if this is a large plug on your post. here is what I am talking about.



    If this is a plug, you will have to drill it out. There is a double ended bolt. One end is lagged in to the floor, the other is threaded and there is a nut behind the plug. You might be able to just tighted the nut. BUT MAKE SURE IT IS REALLY A PLUG BEFORE YOU DRILL IT OUT. hate to ruin a $100 newel post if I am wrong.

    Brew

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