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How to Install Metal Balusters
Everything you need to know about stairwarehouse.com's metal balusters…all on a single page. Video's are also available.
- Wood Baluster Removal: If the staircase currently has wood balusters, remove the wood balusters by cutting them in the middle and removing the top and bottom sections of the baluster.
TIP: Wood Baluster Removal - Wood balusters may be attached to the handrail and floor in a number of ways. Some balusters are simply toe nailed into place. Others are installed into a hole in the handrail and may have a wood dowel in the base which goes into the tread or floor. If the bottom portion of the wood baluster does not want to come up, try rotating It counter-clockwise because some balusters are Installed into the floor or tread with a doubleended baluster screw. In older homes, wood balusters can actually be dovetailed into the treads. If you encounter a dovetailed baluster, you will either have to cut the wood baluster flush with the tread or remove the mitered end of the tread and knock the baluster out from the side.
- Drill Installation Holes: If you are installing the metal balusters in the same location as the old wood balusters, you need to check the size and depth of the existing holes. Metal balusters that are 1/2 inch square will require that you drill at least a 3/4" hole in the floor and handrail surface. The 9/16" square balusters will require that you drill a 7/8" hole. The hole in the handrail will need to be at least 1-1/2" up into the bottom of the handrail. Drill the bottom hole to a depth of approximately 5/8" to 3/4". Many of the powder coated metal balusters have the top of the baluster turned round which will may allow you to use a smaller diameter drill bit for the top hole. The turned top' tip also allows the baluster to be installed without a metal baluster shoe underneath the handrail. It is a good idea to drill and test fit one metal baluster before drilling all of the holes.
TIP: Changing Baluster Spacing' Safety concerns, local code requirements or aesthetics may require you to change the baluster spacing from the original wood baluster layout. Please note that the 2006 International Residential Code requires that stairways have ralls that do not allow the passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter or greater between the balusters. Please consult your local code requirements to determine what is necessary in your situation. If you must install metal balusters in a different location from the original wood balusters, it may be necessary to plug any existing holes in the handrail, floor and/or treads. It is possible in some situations to plug the holes with wood tapered face plugs and then sand them flush with the existing surface. Plugging the existing holes may require that you refinish the wood surfaces.
TIP: Square Hole Method: Metal balusters can be installed without using metal shoes. This requires that the hole In the floor be square and snug to the baluster to avoid visible gaps between the square baluster and the hole. You will only need to drill 1/2" or 9/16" holes, depending on which size baluster you are using. Square up the sides of the holes with a chisel after drilling.
- Cut The Metal Balusters: Measure the distance between the bottom of the handrail and the floor/tread surface. Cut the balusters 1-3/8" to 1-1/2" longer than the measured distance. Most balusters have the ornamentation closer to the top of the baluster. This should allow for all of the cutting to be done on the bottom of the baluster and thereby preserve the round tip on the top of the baluster. You can use several different methods for cutting the metal balusters. A metal chop saw with an abrasive blade or a metal cutting band saw can be used. These are available for rent from many local rental centers and the metal chop saws are readily available for purchase from home building hardware centers. A jig-saw or a grinder with a metal cutting blade can also be used. You should measure each location where a baluster should go and cut the specific baluster to size for that location.
- Test Fit One Baluster: Slide a cut baluster up into the hole in the handrail until you can bring the bottom of the baluster in-line with the hole in the floor/tread. Seat the baluster into the hole and determine that there is adequate baluster length still extended into the bottom of the handrail. Adjust the diameter and depth of holes if necessary.
- Install Metal Balusters: Slide the metal shoes on the baluster and tape the shoe up so that it is not in the way during installation. Please note that the standard shoes and pitch shoes do not add stability to the metal baluster installation – the shoes are for cosmetic purposes and cover the gaps between the square baluster and the round holes. Apply epoxy or polyurethane adhesive into the top and bottom holes and insert baluster. If you are using standard or pitch shoes, place a small amount of epoxy or adhesive around the bottom of the baluster and lower the shoe in place. Square the baluster and shoe to the handrail and leave undisturbed until the epoxy or adhesive has fully cured.
TIP: Epoxy: We recommend using epoxy from Stairwarehouse to install the metal balusters. The epoxy is 100% solid and does not shrink upon curing. The epoxy cartridges come with a special tip that contains baffles that mix both parts of epoxy as it is dispensing which allows the user to place the "mixed" epoxy directly into the holes without any mess. Also available on is our epoxy gun to help you to apply your epoxy to your work area.