(These are general tips and tricks on stair building – can vary depending on local building code)
- Count one Newel Post to start each section
- Count one Newel Post every time the stairway section joins a landing
- Count one Newel Post every time the stairway changes direction (excluding bending railings or spiral stairways)
- Ball-Top Newels are for Starting Posts and Landing Posts
- Pin-Top and Taper-Top Newels are used for continuous sections of handrail (some cities allow Ball-Top and Box Newels when going up the stairs)
- One Newel should be used at least every 8 feet of handrail. If handrail is over 8 feet long, one intermediate post is required in the middle of the handrail section. For example, if handrail section is 12 feet long, an intermediate post is required at the 6 foot mark
Balusters / Spindles
- One baluster every 4” of the balustrade
- 4” sphere cannot pass through the balustrade
- Shoes for bottom and/or top of metal balusters
- Shoe size matches baluster width
Handrail, Shoe Rail
- Check local building codes for handrail height and sizing specifications. Some handrail models are too wide – others too tall. Limitations on size of the handrail vary depending on local building code.
- Plowed handrails and plowed shoe rails are for square-top and/or square-bottom balusters
- Fillet is for filling in extra space under the plowed handrail
- Bending handrails are for spiral or curved staircases
- Handrails terminating into a wall should be drilled into the wall stud (wooden plank of the building’s framework) to maximize stability. A stud finder device is used to locate wall studs behind dry wall.
- Handrails can return into a half Newel or a Rosette, which should be attached to a wall stud.
- If the stairway is less than 5 feet wide, only one side requires handrail (handrail on both sides is optional)
- If the stairway is over 5 feet wide, handrail on both sides is required
- Handrails should be continuous so that someone going up the stairs never has to let go of the handrail (this is required in some places – check local building code)
- Check local building code for minimum width of treads and maximum height of risers
- Each tread and riser must be height and width going up the stairs
- One rail bolt or lag bolt per handrail end
- One bolt wrench or any fastening tool
- Wall rail brackets at a minimum of every 4 feet of handrail (excluding either ends of the handrail, which may or may not return into the wall depending on local building code)
- One Newel bolt per solid Newel Post (more than one is okay but not required), or one Newel Plate per hallow Newel Post
- One Wood plug to cover each hole drilled
- Optional epoxy to secure metal balusters
- Optional shoes for metal balusters
*** Please note that these instructions are here just to give a general idea. These instructions are not “one size fits all” – each and every stairway project is unique. ***
- Set Newel Post in front of riser.
- Lay straight edge on nosing of treads intersecting front of Newel.
- Mark a point on the Newel where tangent line intersects the post.
- Measure 1” from top edge of the face of Starting Newel down to the desired handrail height (limitations cited within local building code). Mark a point on the Newel.
- Area between mark on Newel for desired handrail height and mark from tangent nosing line represents length to be taken off from the bottom of Starting Newel. Add an extra 1/8” if using Newel plate or Newel post mounting kit.
- If sinking Newel through floor and/or tread make use of an intermediate Newel and the measurement from bottom of Newel post will line up with the finished floor or top of tread.
Notice in the image above that the 1” reveal (space for fingers) is maintained by the handrail in both Stairway-to-Stairway and Stairway-to-Balcony layouts. Some cities require the handrail to be continuous while going up the stairs, which would require a Pin-Top Newel instead of the Ball-Top Newel that you see in the pictures above. Check local building code for all technical specifications.
Layout of the Stairway:
Installation techniques differ based on the type of stairway. On an open stairway, newels and balusters are installed onto the floor, treads, or landings of the stairway. Treads and risers are open and visible to someone standing next to an open staircase. Regarding knee wall staircases: treads and risers are covered by a custom board and landing tread, so they are not visible to someone standing right next to the knee wall stairway. Balusters and intermediate posts are installed onto the inclined landing tread, so they are cut at the angle that matches that of the inclined landing tread. Metal balusters for knee wall stairways would require angled shoes. If metal balusters are being installed onto an open stairway, flat shoes would be utilized.
Post installation with a Newel Plate:
Pre-drill holes to make spaces for screws (pilot drill). Attach Newel Plate to bottom of the Newel:
Post installation into floor:
Using two intersecting corner to corner lines, locate the center of the Newel. Pilot drill a hole at center of the Newel:
Post installation into tread:
Slice off a rectangular portion of wood from the bottom of the Newel and to notch it into the tread:
Post installation onto Knee-Wall:
Cut Newel to proper length (see instructions for determining height of the starting post). Attach Newel to the front of the Knee-Wall with lag bolts. Plug holes, sand, and finish.