Installing Stair Balusters (Staircase Spindles)

Installing Stair Balusters (Staircase Spindles)

Installing Stair Balusters (Staircase Spindles) It is often the case that stair balusters are changed at the same time as the newel posts to alter entirely the look of the stairs. The style of staircase spindles you ultimately go for will depend on personal preference and your budget. You should consider which type of spindles will contribute best to the overall style that you are trying to achieve.

Buying the most expensive hardwood stair balusters could be a waste of money if you are going to end up painting them, when cheaper softwood spindles would have given the same result for less money.

You will need to fit two spacer blocks and two stair baluster spindles for each stair tread, plus the string capping and a new handrail if this is being replaced at the same time. All the parts should be available from good DIY stores.


Tools for the Job:

  • tape measure & pencil
  • handsaw
  • nail punch
  • hammer
  • spirit level
  • sliding bevel
  • sanding block


  1. Place the capping that houses the bottom of the stair balusters on top of the string, and slide it down until it touches the newel. Holding a scrap of timber against the newel, mark then cut the necessary bevel.
  2. Repeat the process at the top of the stairs, then nail through the capping into the top of the string, setting the nails below the surface of the capping with a nail punch.
  3. Mark a plumb line with a spirit level on both the handrail and string capping. The position of this line does not matter as it is simply a guideline to help you mark the length of the stair balusters. Draw equivalent lines across the top of the capping and underside of the handrail.
  4. Use two lengths of thin batten to act as a pinch rod for measuring the height of the stair balusters. Hold the two sections together and then slide them apart until they touch the plumb line marks made on the capping and handrail. Tape together the two pieces to preserve the measurement.
  5. Hold the pinch rod against one of the stair balusters and transfer the height measurement. Set a sliding bevel to the angle between the newel post and string capping, and transfer this bevel to the baluster. Note that the top and bottom bevels slope in the same direction.
  6. Cut the bevels onto each end of the stair baluster and then place it between the handrail and capping to check for fit. Hold a spirit level against the baluster when in position to make sure that it is plumb. If you are happy with the fit, use this first baluster as a pattern for cutting all the others.
  7. Starting at the bottom of the staircase, nail the first two spacer blocks, one to the underside of the handrail and the other to the string capping. Use a nail punch to set the nail heads below the surface.
  8. Add the first stair baluster, then follow this with the next spacer block, and so on until you reach the top of the stairs. No fixings are made through the stair balusters themselves. Only the spacer blocks are fixed in place as these are sufficient to hold the balusters.
  9. When all the stair balusters have been fitted, give them a light rub over with a sanding block and abrasive paper, then apply your chosen finish.


Tips of the trade

Store the stair balusters indoors for a few days so that they can acclimatize to the temperature and humidity of the house prior to fitting. This will ensure they do not shrink afterwards, which will cause them to rattle.


Safety Advice

Make sure that the staircase spindles are not spaced too far apart, which could allow a child to fall through.


Tips of the trade

If you have chosen barley twist-style stair balusters, make sure that the twists all start in the same position at the bottom. This makes for a neater and more professional appearance.

15. December 2010 by admin
Categories: DIY Home, Stairs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Installing Stair Balusters (Staircase Spindles)

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