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Installing Hardwood Stairs, Handrail & Metal Balusters - Stair Parts Canada Customer Tips.

SECTION 1: Installing Stairs & Handrails

STEP 1: You Found The Right Supplier

So, you are thinking about renovating your existing stairs and railings to get a updated/fresh look? Good choice, a new solid hardwood stairs is one of the best return investments you can make, when it comes to putting money into your home. Installing band new stair treads that shine with that new home feel is very common in todays home improvement market. You may even want to add new up-to-date newel post and balusters as well. Either way we are here to help you save money, get the best stair parts in Canada, and help you through out the entire quoting process!

We are Canada's biggest stair parts supplier... when it comes to dealing with the retail home owner and small contactor direct, you have come to the right place. We ship our stair parts across the country to home owners and contractors, we deliver direct right to your home ). This saves you money, as you can buy direct from us and get the same discount wholesalers get from us.

STEP 2: Needs & Cost

You need to figure out what stair parts you need and how much money it will cost you to get your order delivered right to you home ( luckily this is our business mission ). our web site is a great tool to help you in this area and our staff is here to make sure you get the guidance you need throughout the quoting process.

We offer full line item detailed quotes... this means you get a total cost with no extras, no hidden fees, and no surprises. This cost includes shipping your stair parts right to your door. You may also want pre-finished the stair parts in clear coat or custom stain to match to your existing flooring. We have our own spray booth and full- time finisher, so we have you covered. Click here to view our: Spray Booth Finishing Page

STEP 3: Understanding & Getting A Accurate Material List

Here are some of the key facts that are a must for you to understand.
  • Always view your stairs from the bottom up.
  • If your handrail on the right looking up, then you have right hand miter return treads.
  • You always loss 1.5 inches of tread length per installed miter end.
  • The term "RUN" means the horizontal framing length ( also the same as the "riser- to-riser length measurement" ).
  • "RUN" determines tread width and how many balusters are needed per tread, for a miter return tread.
  • You need 2 balusters per tread if your RUN is 9" or less ( 3 balusters per tread if RUN is more then 9" ).
  • You need a 36" and 41" baluster per tread to carry the rail slope ( if you need 3 balusters a extra 41" would have be trimmed down on site to approx. 38.5" ).
  • Level run handrail code is min. 36" high.
  • Balusters for "level run handrail" can be 36" long for a residential home.
  • 41" long balusters are needed for homes that have a upper hall wall over 10 feet high from lower floor.
  • Commercial code requires 42" rail height min.
  • You need three ( 3 ) balusters for every foot of handrail that is on the level run.

    Click here to view our: The Most Asked Stair and Railing Questions Page

    STEP 4: Standard Stairs Treads -VS- False Stair Treads

    When installing new "Standard Stairs Treads" you will have to totally remove all base structure, right down to the framing stringers. This is what we do on all our stair renovation jobs and new home stair jobs that we install ( we do not install false treads ). Click here to view our: Stair Treads Page

    When installing new "Full False Stair Treads" you only have to cut off the existing bull nose overhang to be flush with the existing riser ( ie. cut nose off to be flush with the kick plate ). Thus, leaving all base structure in place, so a full tear out is not needed. These treads are designed to make new stair tread installs more easy for the the “Do-It-Your-Selfer”. Click here to view our: Full False Stair Treads Page

    STEP 5: Understanding Miter Return Treads

    For information on sizing for single miter return hardwood stair treads: click here to go to our detailed web page.

    For information on sizing for double miter return hardwood stair treads: click here to go to our detailed web page.

    STEP 6: Know That Many Online Resources Fall Short

    If you are taking on the task yourself to install new stairs and railings there are many online resources which will help guide you along the right path. But be aware, many online videos and guides on stair treads and railing installation fall well short of our standards. Our advice to you is to call us and ask us!

    Click Here to Visit the DIY Network Website as they have a few of the better install guides ( note: even their installations methods are a bit below our stair building standards ).

    STEP 7: Call Or Email Us

    Email seems to be a great way these days to start off the quoting process. If you want to get the ball rolling by a email, send us a material list of what you think you need, a few images of your stairs is good to send also, the hardwood type you are wanting, all sizing info., balusters and post profiles, if you want spray booth finish or not, and your full delivery address ( with postal or zip code ).

    Please do call us if you want to speak to us in person, as information still gets passed faster by a simple one-on-one phone call ( we have a toll free phone number set up just for this reason ). Once again we will request for you to email us details mentioned above.

    Please Note: we do not quote over the phone, we can give item cost to you, but we can not give shipping cost ( only ball park shipping cost ). We will not do a quote unless the customer emails us, as this starts the email dialog with you and us.

    SECTION 2: Installing Metal Balusters

    Our Free Advice: Stay away from metal balusters that only rely on a few small screws to hold them in place at the top and /or bottom ( typically the metal balusters sold at big box stores… stair installers will not warranty them, as the lack structural strength ). See, these metal balusters really have no strength and actually fail new home construction code in some provinces in Canada ( this is why we don't sell the bracket mount metal balusters ). On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult... installing new metal balusters rates a 3.

    Existing Wood Baluster Removal: Wood balusters may be attached to the handrail and floor in a number of ways. Some balusters are simply toe nailed into place. Others are installed into a hole in the handrail and may have a wood dowel in the base, which goes into the tread or floor. If the bottom portion of the wood baluster does not want to come up, try rotating it counter-clockwise because some balusters are installed into the floor or tread with a double-ended baluster screw. In older homes, wood balusters can actually be dovetailed into the treads. If you encounter a dovetailed baluster, you will either have to cut the wood baluster flush with the tread or remove the mitered end of the tread and knock the baluster out from the side. Most times you simply remove the wood balusters by cutting them in the middle and removing the top and bottom sections of the baluster.

    Drilling Installation Holes: If you are installing the metal balusters in the same location as the old wood balusters, you need to check the size and depth of the existing holes. Metal balusters that are 1/2 inch square ( which yours will be ) will require that you drill at least a 5/8" hole in the floor and a 1/2" hole in handrails bottom surface. The hole in the handrail will need to be at least 1" up into the bottom of the handrail. Drill the bottom hole to a depth of approximately 5/8" to 3/4". Our powder coated metal balusters have the top of the baluster turned round which will may allow you to use a smaller diameter drill bit for the top hole. The turned top' tip also allows the baluster to be installed without a metal baluster shoe underneath the handrail. It is a good idea to drill and test fit one metal baluster before drilling all of the holes.

    Tip: Changing Baluster Spacing: New code requirements or aesthetics may require you to change the baluster spacing from the original wood baluster layout. Please note that the 2008 Canadian Residential Code and the 2006 International Residential Code requires that stairways have rails that do not allow the passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter or greater between the balusters. Please consult your local code requirements to determine what is necessary in your situation. If you must install metal balusters in a different location from the original wood balusters, it may be necessary to plug any existing holes in the handrail, floor and/or treads. It is possible in some situations to plug the holes with wood tapered face plugs and then sand them flush with the existing surface. Plugging the existing holes may require that you refinish the wood surfaces.

    Level Run Handrail Note: Cut metal balusters down from the bottom square end to a length of approx. 37-1/2 inches for your level run hand rail ( this is for hand railings that are non staircase rails ).

    Open Treads Handrail Note: Cut metal balusters down from the bottom square end to a length of approx. 37-1/2 inches for all front tread balusters and approx. 41-1/2 inches for all back tread balusters ( this is for staircase rails ).

    Railing Height Note: The above are guidelines for Residential applications only and are based on the Canadian Building Code, which states that a height of 36 inches is to be the minimum height of the top of the handrail for a of residential railing. We recommend you contact your local building inspector to confirm the above in your area.

    Cutting The Metal Balusters: Measure the distance between the bottom of the handrail and the floor/tread surface. Cut the balusters 1-3/8" to 1-1/2" longer than the measured distance. Most balusters have the ornamentation closer to the top of the baluster. This should allow for all of the cutting to be done on the bottom of the baluster and thereby preserve the round tip on the top of the baluster. You can use several different methods for cutting the metal balusters. A metal chop saw with an abrasive blade or a metal cutting band saw can be used. These are available for rent from many local rental centers and the metal chop saws are readily available for purchase from home building hardware centers. A jig-saw or a grinder with a metal cutting blade can also be used. You should measure each location where a baluster should go and cut the specific baluster to size for that location.

    Test Fitting One Baluster: Slide a cut baluster up into the hole in the handrail until you can bring the bottom of the baluster in-line with the hole in the floor/tread. Seat the baluster into the hole and determine that there is adequate baluster length still extended into the bottom of the handrail. Adjust the diameter and depth of holes if necessary.

    Install Metal Balusters: Slide the metal shoes on the baluster and tape the shoe up so that it is not in the way during installation. Please note that the standard shoes and pitch shoes do not add stability to the metal baluster installation – the shoes are for cosmetic purposes and cover the gaps between the square baluster and the round holes. Apply epoxy or polyurethane adhesive into the top and bottom holes and insert baluster. If you are using standard or pitch shoes, place a small amount of epoxy or adhesive around the bottom of the baluster and lower the shoe in place. Square the baluster and shoe to the handrail and leave undisturbed until the epoxy or adhesive has fully cured.

    What Glue To Use: For a fast set up time, we recommend using 2 Part Epoxy Glue or for a 24 hour set up time, we recommend using PL Premium Sub Floor Adhesive to install the metal balusters. The epoxy is 100% solid and does not shrink upon curing. The epoxy cartridges come with a special tip that contains baffles that mix both parts of epoxy as it is dispensing which allows the user to place the "mixed" epoxy directly into the holes without any mess. The PL Premium is the best wood to metal glue on the market, it comes in a caulking tube, so it is easy to dispense. Both are very good products ( PL Premium can be found at any hardware store... it is in a black and gold caulking tube ).

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