Monday, October 14, 2013

Home Repair presents Stair Rails: The Continuing

It's October, so all these post titles are going to be like bad horror film sequels.

I've been given a deadline of next Saturday to get the stair rails done.  I'm pretty confident that if the materials come in, I can get it done.  I got the original pieces from West Michigan Wholesale Mouldings, who you should go to if you're in the West Michigan area and need baseboards, trimwork or any of that.  It's like 1/3 the cost of big box stores.  Anyway, enough with the plugs, he only had a couple of railings, and only enough balusters to do the upstairs hallway and the landing, so the rest had to be ordered.  Now, once you do that, you're paying catalog prices.  He keeps everything so cheap because what he has is leftover from jobsites, overstocks, things like that.  That being said, it's still cheaper than if I custom ordered it myself.  And big box stores don't even apply here, since they don't have the square railings and balusters I want anyway.

Onto the progress - I had thought about doing some measuring on Saturday, but instead I got the itch to fix something that had been bothering me.  Our upstairs sink stopper wasn't going all the way down, so I couldn't shave up there. Very annoying. Now, keep in mind, it's never worked with the little pull rod - when we bought the house, the pull rod was not attached to anything, so we've just reached under to pop it back up.  I decided that was enough, so I started taking it apart.  Big mistake.

I'll save you the gory details, and certainly didn't photograph it, but just imagine the amount of garbage in the trap and pop up when it's never been cleaned out.  It smelled like a trip to the water treatment plant.  I went to Ace to get a new pop up assembly, got it back, hooked it all up, and it was leaking.  But I couldn't figure out where.  Then I discovered that the two pieces that were welded together must not have been welded very well.  It was leaking out of a place that was supposed to be sealed at the factory.  So I had to take the whole thing apart again, and tried to take it back.  Except they close at 5 on Saturdays. So, hours later, I still didn't get to shave.  Who needs a drink?

SUNDAY.  I didn't want to start with plumbing, so I jumped right into the stairs again.

I wanted to get the railing along the landing done in one day, like I did the upstairs railing.  Having done that one, I was confident I could finish.  I decided that the posts on the landing would not have the full base like the upstairs post does.  The posts at the bottom of the stairs certainly will, but because these are just on the landing, I didn't want to take up 3 extra inches on each side just for a transition post.  Because the post was below a wall, I had to cut off 2" off the top of the post in order to get it over the dowel screw to twist it on.

The other side, I had a lot of decisions to make.  Because there is this stupid gap between the two stairways, it makes the railing awkward.  I was going to do two posts, then maybe one post in the middle and attach the handrails to the sides, then settled on one post matching the first set of stairs, and somehow turning the second set handrail to meet this post.  It seemed like the most logical (and symmetrical) way to do it - this way the posts on the landing were evenly spaced.

Just as I had on the upstairs railing, I snapped a chalk line, with the balusters 3" apart, drilled pilot holes, screwed the balusters on (this time, though, Becky stained them BEFORE we attached them - much easier), and then added the handrail.  I then cut 3" spacers out of 3/8" plywood to hold the balusters in place on the handrails.  I put two long screws in the underside of the handrail to attach it to the wall, then added a spacer between each baluster using wood glue and brad nails.

On the upstairs railing, I added 2" brad nails through the top of the handrail into each baluster, for some extra support.

Here's what it looked like at the end of the day.  Still have to wrap those downstairs posts in 1/2" plywood, and then when the rest of the materials come in, I can start on the actual stair hand rails.

Next up, what Becky's doing with our new old dining room table & chairs:


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