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Do I need to replace the handrail on our stairs?

(8 Posts)
PointyBirds Thu 02-Jul-15 14:04:42

Our stairs are completely enclosed - walls on both sides. I've just removed an ugly and flimsy handrail and the stairs look so much better and more open without it. If we replace it it would be something much more flush to the wall (the old one stuck out on brackets) so perhaps the space issue wouldn't be so bad, but it seems like a huge faff to replace if we don't have to.

I've found regulations that say that you need one handrail if your stairs are less than one metre wide and two if they're more than one metre wide, but how applicable are they to private homes and who is going to be checking?!

PigletJohn Thu 02-Jul-15 15:28:18

I have only fallen down the stairs a couple of times, when I was temporarily on crutches, but you only need to do it once to wish you hadn't. A cat on the stairs, shiny shoes, or carrying a pile of washing, or a night on the Bailey's may make you lose your footing.

You can get a sturdy wooden handrail section called "pig's ear" which can be screwed to the wall (no brackets required and doesn't project much). If you wish you can remove it to paint or wallpaper.

I recommend painting or staining it after drilling, but before fixing.

PointyBirds Thu 02-Jul-15 15:31:36

Thanks, it was the pig's ear style I was thinking of. Any other tips for fixing it? I'm nervous of getting the angle wrong and ending up getting annoyed about it every time I go up the stairs...

PigletJohn Thu 02-Jul-15 15:44:46

The treads of your stairs will be fixed to a diagonal board which is fixed to the wall. Draw vertical lines from this at the top and bottom of the stairs, and in a couple of other places, using your medium or larger spirit level, and measure the height from the board so they are all the same. Run it horizontally at any half-landings. Drill and plug the top and the bottom two holes, put a smallish screw in and snap a stringline between them to verify it meets your marks (apart from slight sag) before you drill the others. I would screw at intervals of not more than 1500mm, use an extra one if you hit a mortar joint or crumbly brick.

Drill and countersink the rail first, and use the holes to mark the walls by screwing the top and bottom into place and tapping a screw lightly through the holes in the rail. Support the rail against sagging when marking or use a laser level, or even a torch. I think you will need three inch or four inch frame-fixing screws. The plugs must be tapped into the brickwork, not the plaster.

PointyBirds Thu 02-Jul-15 15:56:58

Thanks, that's fab. I've had to read it a few times but I think I've got it! Sorry if I've not followed properly, but in your first paragraph you mention drilling the holes from marks made by measuring the height with a level and checking with the string, but then in your second paragraph you mention drilling holes in the rail and using that to mark the wall. Is it an either/or?

PigletJohn Thu 02-Jul-15 16:07:08

drill and countersink all the holes in the rail first, then drill the bottom hole in the wall, then screw the rail into position at the bottom and hold the top in place while you mark the top hole, lower the rail while you drill, hoover and plug the top hole; then fix the rail top and bottom and mark the other holes, then take the rail off to drill, plug and hoover the other holes. You can probably leave the bottom screw in place, not quite tight, which means it can be done by one person, and just lower the rail out of the way.

If you want, you can leave the ends of the rail slightly oversize, and pencil them after fixing so you can saw and smooth them to match the wall.

PigletJohn Thu 02-Jul-15 16:11:30

I see...

the pencil marks on the wall are used for the top and bottom holes, but also to verify that the rail is at the correct angle when you lift it into position. The rail should match the marks all the way and there should be more than three, all the marks should look in line when tested with the string, and the rail should fit the same line.

If, for example, you had made a mistake with the top hole, you would notice it because the string and rail did not fit the marks.

PointyBirds Thu 02-Jul-15 16:23:26

Brilliant, thanks so much.

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