Stair Struck

Chalk it up to our little bout of confidence from our newel experience, but we got kinda ballsy around here and decided to also DIY the banister. Now, normally when I say DIY I mean that we go out and buy pre-made said thing and then install it. Like, I would consider our bathrooms DIY’ed, but ya know, we didn’t make the marble tiles – we just installed them ourselves. But ladies and gentlemen, we’re just little carpenters over here and we keep busting out our wood related projects. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Alas, there are a few reasons for this. Like newel posts, it turns out banisters are cray cray expensive. Like $325 for the wood we’d need for our little rinky dink number. So I had to say goodbye to my dreams of a banister that looks like this …

Dark Wood Hand Railing

And say hello to an all white painted banister. Not a bad thing, especially when it’s saving you mucho dollares.

So here is the back story. For our banister, we needed approximately 17 linear feet of railing. When we went to Home Depot to price everything out, it was going to cost us just north of $300 for the railing and the spindles and really, that just felt like too much for me to handle. So once again, I gave the hubster the sly eye and said – by George – let’s build it!

Although the banister turned out a-ok, I have to confess, this little DIY project was a bit harder than our newel experience. Mainly since we had to kind of make it up as we went along vs. having an exact image of what we knew we wanted, like we did with the newel.

After we ripped out the old, we were left with this. Am I the only one that gets sweaty palms taking that view in. Eeek!!

How to build a stair rail

Next step was to pop in our newel posts so that we had a clear idea of the distance we needed to cover for each railing. Since we will be installing carpet in the next few weeks up here, we just got some l-brackets for the posts and screwed them in directly to the floor. Easy peasy. The less easier part – constructing the stair rail.

We knew that we’d need a base and a top and some slats down the middle, and with some improvising, we finally found the right combo to get the look we wanted. We purchased a 5″ piece (cut in half for the base and top) , a 3″ piece (cut in half for the edges) and a 1″ piece (for the spindles)

How to build staircase banister

After some trial and error on the sizing that we wanted, we landed up with 1.5 inches for all sides of both the base and the top. Here is Jay putting together our first piece. The top section, where he is resting his hand, is where the spindles go.

How to Build Banister

After we got the first side panel installed, we flipped it over and came back through to screw in each of the spindles. Since we knew we would need some space to get the screwdriver in there, we decided to wait until after the spindles were installed to attach the other side.

You can see Jay coming back through with the nail gun for some extra reinforcement along the top as well. To keep things simple, we just followed the exact same dimensions for both the top and bottom railing.

DIY Stair Case Banister

After we got the spindles in (they are spaced at 5.5″ apart on center, with a 4″ interior gap), we came back through and attached the second side panel so that we could pop on the top railing.

DIY Stair Railing

Since we were just figuring out the process the first evening, everything took a bit longer and we only finished the front, smaller section. By night two, we had our game faces on though and we were ready to rumble, so things went quite a bit faster.

We pre-cut everything to size and got moving! Here are all the spindles lined up and ready for their day in the sun.

How to Build Stair Case

As we started to connect the railings to the newel posts, we were very careful to make sure that everything was level and that the banister was hitting at the same height on each post.

How to Build Stair Railing

Once we got everything level and screwed into the newel posts, we popped on our top railing piece and called it a day. Got ready to sand, caulk, prime and paint this bad boy. One downside of our less expensive banister was that we had to come through and do a decent amount of prep work before we could grab our paint brushes.

DIY Stair Railing

Problem areas like this had to be filled in with wood putty.

Dent in stair railing

And problem areas like this had to get sanded. Umm – yeah – ya think, a bit fuzzy :)

Sanding Stair Spindle

Here is a breakdown of all the supplies we purchased and our total cost.

  • (3) 5″ wood planks cut in half for the tops of the bases where the spindles attached – $4.48 each
  • (5) 3″ planks cut in half for the side panels for the base $3.48 each
  • (3) 3″ planks trimmed to 2.5″ for the top railing $3.48 each
  • A box of screws $6
  • Total: $47.28

Vs. $325 for the pre-fab banister options at Home Depot!! Hello money in my pocket. The picture below provides a visual graphic of the dimensions we used for each of the stair banister components.

How to build stair railing

Sans the top of one newel post (got lost in the shuffle and we still have to go back and grab one from the hardware store), we now have this for our stair case after one coat of paint!

How to build stair banister

Now when you add in the savings from our DIY newel posts, we saved around $650 by tackling this bad boy ourselves. That, makes me a very happy little lady 😀

4 thoughts on “Stair Struck

  1. I’ve loved following your attic remodel, as we are in the process of doing something similar. Great job, great write-ups, great problem solving as you go. However, please check your baluster spacing here! Code specifies a max 4″ gap, which I believe you have exceeded. Don’t invite any little kids to visit until you fix it!

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