We all know about the rising trend of homeowners who want to be hands-on with home renovation activities and basic repairs. Some of these DIY home renovations can be quite complex and are not always for those who aren’t very handy with tools. This particular one, though, is among the easiest to handle, and with minimal effort, can transform the look of your home’s staircase.

There are multiple reasons why you may need to replace your stair spindles. For instance, wear and tear, especially if you currently have wood stair spindles, would require you to replace them. In some cases, spindles may even be broken in half. And we all know that a good-looking indoor staircase is a boon to the eyes as soon as you open the front door. 

Iron spindles or iron balusters, as they are also known, not only last longer, but they can also be visually a lot more appealing.

Here’s an easy DIY guide to replacing stair spindles.

What you will need

Before we delve into the process itself, let’s first take a look at the tools and the materials you will need for this DIY project

Tools

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  1. Safety glasses
  2. Miter saw
  3. Handsaw
  4. Needle nose pliers
  5. Locking pliers
  6. Cordless drill
  7. Drill bit set
  8. Forstner drill bits

Materials

  1. Replacement spindles of the material of your choice. Common materials include metal, ceramic, wood, and stone.
  2. Wood glue
  3. Masking tape
  4. Paint

The process

Removing the old spindles 

stair spindles replacement

This is often the part that a lot of homeowners get the most intimidated by. That is because we know that the spindles are held in place through holes at the top and bottom. And we never thought we’d have to do the job of removing them.

Well, removing a spindle is easier than it looks. They are usually held in place on the underside of the handrails and at the bottom of the stair rail by thin wooden fillers, commonly known as filets. These filets need to be removed in order to remove the spindles.

Drive a ¾-inch screw into the filet of the spindle we want to remove first. The screw should ideally go in only about 3/16th of an inch into the screw. Once it is lodged in the filet, grab the top of the screw and yank up hard. If that does not dislodge the filet, wiggle, and rock the screw until the filet is loosened and pops out.

There is another way of getting the job done as well, especially in the case of wooden spindles that are glued in. If the spindle is already broken, grab one of the broken halves and just yank hard until the spindle detaches itself, filet and all. If the spindle isn’t broken all the way, grab a saw and cut it in half before yanking it out. 

Overdrilling

The next part of the process requires a bit of care. We will need to find the correct size Forstner bit and over-drill the holes at the top. However, we will need to be extra cautious as we drill holes on the undersides of the handrails. We do not want to punch all the way through the rail. So if it is needed, mark your bit with masking tape.

The reason for over drilling is so we can comfortably push the top of the spindle into the hole before attaching it to the existing bottom hole. 

Fitting the new spindle

It is a possibility that the new spindle we have bought may not be an exact fit. This means you may need to cut down the spindle to fit. However, we need to exercise caution while cutting down the new spindle to size, because if we get it wrong, it may not fit with the existing spindles.

Once we’re sure the new spindle fits in, all we need to do is apply wood glue into the lower hole and then install the new spindle in place. 

Buying new spindles

new stair spindles

The cost of spindles depends largely on the material we choose. While wooden spindles could cost around $55 per spindle, metal ones could cost upwards of $50 a piece as well.

While buying spindles, it is best to always search locally rather than ordering online, especially when you’re replacing only damaged spindles and not the entire set along with the railing. 

A good place to start sourcing would be the manufacturer or lumberyard closest to our home because there’s a good chance the contractor who built our home bought it from them as well. 

An easy DIY guide to replacing stair spindles was last modified: June 22nd, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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