Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Make a $10 Stair Rail

Way back when, roundabouts a year ago, we remodeled our basement. Well, mostly. It's about 80% done, but we pretty much overhauled the whole place - new sheetrock, flooring, paint, tile, doors - you name it, we probably did it. We probably even did what you couldn't think of to name (I'll give you a hint - it starts with an "a" and ends with an "sbestos").

In all the chaos and the whirlwind remodeling we did last summer, things that weren't too important at the time got shoved aside to make way for more important items, since we figured we'd have plenty of time later to get those items done.

So what got shoved aside and put away for later on the To-Do List?

Our stair rail.

During our Basment Reno

Which was really probably actually pretty important to all our guests who came over and tried to navigate those awkwardly-steep stairs without anything nearby to hold onto - usually while an excitable furry little someone tried to trip them as he raced past trying to beat them to their destination. After about a year of subjecting our friends and family to this major safety hazard, we finally decided it was probably time to just Git-R-Done - and hopefully avoid any lawsuits that might result from the likely event of an accident due to our severely unsafe steep stair + no handrail + rude dog combo.

So a couple weeks ago we dug out our old wooden nasty and dirty wooden railing that had previously come with the house (that we ripped out during our redo) and proceeded to get down to work.

We set it up in the front yard (our neighbors are totally used to this) between two sawhorses (which Barley proceeded to bark and growl to 'warn' us of as soon as he saw them...). Then I grabbed my electric hand sander and got to work.

It was NAS-to-the-TY! Ugh. There was so much grime and dirt built up on the wooden rail over the years that it took me 30 minutes to sand it all over - and go through about 3 or 4 sheets of sandpaper! It was so gross. Thankfully I felt much better about our decision to use our old railing once all the grime was gone and it was down to bare wood - I could finally touch the thing without getting the heebie-jeebies.

So then we lugged the thing inside and I grabbed a trusty can of leftover spare oil-based primer and did 1 quick coat...

Followed by 2 coats of leftover white paint throughout the following days.

A few more days to dry, and a quick trip to Lowe's later, and we were ready to install it!

I bought 3 pieces of stair rail hardware in a brushed nickel finish to match the door hardware throughout the house, and at about $3 each they didn't exactly break the bank. Score.

We spaced them out by holding the handrail up and seeing if it was at a comfortable height, and then measuring from the flat part of the stair step to make sure the railing stayed at the same height.

Then Tom got out his trusty drill and installed the hardware...

Upside down.


After a brief, um, disagreement, whereby Tom was convinced that we would have to remeasure and redrill the whole thing to keep the rail at the same height and I insisted that we could just use the same holes and simply flip the hardware around - Tom realized I was right (and yes, I did throw out a triumphant-if-extremely-immature "I Told You So!") and he simply unscrewed the newly-installed hardware and flipped it. This left 2 large holes above where the mistakes were made that will have to be patched later - but hey, that's nothing new in this house!

Anyways, after the hardware was flipped Tom simply drilled in a small attachment piece to secure the rail to the new hardware.

And we were done!

Afterwards we did a brief happy dance as visions of us not-getting-sued-and-going-bankrupt-because-our-guests-fell-down-the-stairs danced in our heads.

We LOVE our new rail! Although we think Barley's not too fond of it... it just seems to take all the fun out of trying to trip people on the stairs for him.

So what do you guys think? How do you like our $10 hand rail? Have you ever had a big safety hazard like this in your own home?
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  1. I recently did the same thing with our nasty stair railing (and ALL the trim in our bedroom!)...amazing what elbow grease and a couple of coats of white paint can do!

  2. Very good job! You can never be too cautious when it comes to possibly being sued.

  3. Nice job, guys, and way to reuse!

    Safety hazards? In my house? NEVER!

    Oh, you mean like ceilings that fall in and floors that give way?

  4. Thanks, guys!

    We find ourselves using it ALL THE TIME now that it's there! And it only took us a year to get around to it... ;)

    @Sunny - I totally thought of your house when I asked that question and wondered what you'd answer with!

    Thanks again for dropping by!



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