How to Replace Stair Balustrades

by Marcie
before and after pictures of installing stair balustrades

After painting the dining room and stair wall gray Madalyn suggested we replace the stair balustrades also. I wasn’t sure about it but decided to listen to her and give it a try.

Stairs with old wooden balustrades from the 1970's.
Time to replace the wooden stair balustrades with new metal ones.
cutting out wood balustrades with a pole saw
The only way to get the balustrades out was to take the pole saw and cut them.
All the balustrades have been pulled out and are ready for new ones.
Putting in the new metal balustrades.

I watched some youtube videos about how to replace balustrades and they were all easier than ours! They would put the metal ones in the same holes the wood ones came out of. And for them the banister was even so each metal balustrade could be cut the same exact length. Not for us!

Our wood ones (as you can see in the above pictures) were very close to the stair tread and I wanted them centered on the stair instead. So that meant sanding and staining the white spots where the wooden ones left a mark. Then drilling new holes for the metal ones in the middle of the stair. Our banister was shorter at the top and got slightly taller at the bottom of the stairs. That meant the top balustrade was 30″ and the bottom one was 34″ and all the ones in the middle were in between that. So we had to measure each and every balustrade (they came 44″ long). Then cut some off the top of it and some off the bottom in order for the basket (the spiral parts) to be centered. We also had to use a level to make sure the balustrade was perfectly vertical and then drill holes there. Then glue them in.

How to replace balustrades

The Steps We Took
  • My 2nd oldest, Madalyn, helped me pick out the balustrades and the pattern we wanted: twist, 1 basket, twist, 2 basekts, twist, 1 basket, twist, 2 baskets, etc.
  • We bought the hollow core black balustrades from
  • Each balustarde came 44″ so I would take the first one, a twist, hold it up to its spot where it would go at the bottom of the staircase, measure how long it would need to be, then put a piece of masking tape at the top and bottom where I’d need to cut.
  • Then I took it to the porch where I would cut it with my Worx recriprocating saw.
  • Thomas measured the stair and would drill a hole for the bottom of the balustrade to go in. I’d put it in and then we’d use a level to hold it as straight as we could and he’d estimate where to drill the top hole into the banister and mark it with a pencil. Then he’d drill the hole and I’d vacuum the sawdust as he drilled. We aren’t great drillers so it would take a long time to drill a hole deep enough for the balustrade to go in and sometimes I had to go saw off another 1/4″ to make it fit.
  • Then we’d take it out and put glue in the bottom and the top and put it in again and also glue the shoes over it.
  • We made a lot of little mistakes so it took a couple of afternoons but we finally got it right and now it looks great! Hopefully yours goes a lot smoother than ours!
Staircase with new black metal hollow core balustrades installed in a home.
Phew! It was harder and more exacting project than I thought, but it’s finally done!

Check out more of our farmhouse renos!

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