New (old) Staircase

ittybittykittyApril 10, 2013
I am remodeling my old house and am finding architectural antiques when I need to replace things or ad things. The staircase newels, spindles and rails in my house were all 1980s. Have recycled those. I found old newel posts that will work and have found two sections of 100 year old staircase rail that should work. One section is 10 feet, the other 6. How hard would it be for my carpenter to re-use the old rail? I thought I would post here before I bring it up and possibly stress him out.
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I think most carpenters I know would welcome the chance to work with them. You obviously know his attitude toward the antiquity of your home if he already working on your house. Are the lengths long enough to match what you need? If it isn't enough, it will be hard to match with new materials. It can really be fun getting it to fit so I would bring it up to him and probably be ready to pay for his extra labor to make it so.
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:06PM
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Dullea and Associates Inc.
Does the rail you found have balusters or is it just the handrail? Also, do you have any photographs that you can post?
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:35PM
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It has the rail and balusters. I'll post some photos of it tomorrow when I go to look at it again. The subcontractor who is doing my stairs got in touch with me and is concerned that 10 feet and 6 feet isn't going to be long enough. It is going to go from a square (antique) newel post up 92 inches. Then it hits the wall and is supposed to bend around the wall and continue up another 4 feet. I was hoping that we would be able to do the middle part with a new (doesn't have to match perfectly.) stair rail.
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:02PM
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kitty, I don't think bringing it up would stress him out (but you know him better :) -- ask for his opinion. Worst case is he says no can do. (Then you can still get a second opinion! :) Look forward to your photos tomorrow.
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Dullea and Associates Inc.
Before you purchase the rail and baluster you should also check to make sure the rail is code compliant. I assume you are in the US. If this is the case your balusters will need to be located such that a 4" sphere is unable to pass through any openings in the rail system. In addition the handrail itself must meet the graspable requirements set forth in the code. If they meet this requirement you should also make sure the rail and balusters will work with the rise/run of your stair. If the treads and risers do not match those of the stair the handrail was taken from then it could be very difficult to modify and use the old rail system.

I hate to say it but many old hand rails were much wider than those allowed by the code today. The good news is you can install a code compliant wall mounted rail on the adjacent wall and use the older, wide, handrail with the balusters on the outside run of the stairs.

Since it sounds like the rail may not be long enough an alternative solution would be to have a new rail and balusters custom made. Doing so will assure that your handrail meets all of the requirements of the code while having the beauty and detail of the old rail. You should be able to use the old newel.

I look forward to seeing the photos.
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:39AM
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