TOOLS AND MATERIALS NEEDED
The layout of your home is generally designed around the staircase, so it is unusual to replace it unless it is unsafe or if you are doing extensive remodeling. Staircases are custom-built. Installing a staircase is a complex job and may be best left to a professional who will measure and build the stairs. Replacing the balustrade can update a staircase, and with a kit it is fairly straightforward. Staircase design must meet local building codes.
The staircase should comply with these rules:
REPLACING A STAIRCASE
Most specialty manufacturers will measure and install a new staircase for you, and ensure it complies with building codes (see box, above right). If you are building stairs yourself, always read any manufacturer’s instructions—they will explain where and how to take the crucial measurements. Generally, you will need to measure from floor to ceiling to get the “rise”—the height of the staircase. Remember to take the thickness of the finished floor into account. The advance of the staircase across the floor is known as the “run.” It is measured as the distance between the face of the first riser and the face of the last riser. If you are building a staircase between two walls, measure the width of the space in several places and work with the smallest figure.
REPLACING A BALUSTRADE
You may wish to replace a balustrade if it is broken, or purely for cosmetic reasons. Traditionally, balustrades are secured into the staircase, and require considerable expertise to replace (for more info, Google woodworking joints). An alternative is to purchase replacement newels, balusters, and rails. These can be adapted to fit around most stairs and landings. Make sure you buy the right kind for your stairs—the system needed will vary depending on whether the staircase is closed- or open-string (see parts of a staircase). If your stairs have an open string, then metal balusters are ideal because they can be attached directly to the treads with brackets.
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Modified: Monday, 2008-12-29 17:07 PST