How to Install Iron Balusters

January 20, 2015 – Once the Design and Selection is complete – How are the balusters installed?

Iron is available in Solid or Tubular. Generally we recomend Tubular for DIY installation because they need to be cut. On average there are four (4) lengths required (Balcony, Volute or Start-Step, Front (nose) and Rear of steps. If your staircase has an Angle Wall, the baluster length will be very short (approx. 29 inches). Use a wood Miter Saw for this project by replacing the blade with a Black Disc (10 inch) used for cutting metal. These are available from Stair Supply (Stair Solution) or a local Big Box or Hardware store. Tubular Iron will cut in about 4-5 seconds, however Solid Iron could take as long as 30+ seconds for each cut. If using Solid Iron we recommend a Band Saw (circular Hack-Saw) or commercial grade cutting equipment. Balusters contain many types of metal, some cut easily and others (stainless steel) take much longer.

If this is your first project, we recommend starting with the Balcony area first. Use a JIG SAW to cut the existing wood baluster in the lower portion by the hour-glass shape. Hold the top of the baluster with your other hand while cutting to assure the wood does not drop out of the handrail onto the floor. There is no standard for how the Builder originally installed the balusters. Some Glue, Glue + Nail, Staple or use really huge nails – just need to work through removing a few to find the best removal process. After the Balusters are removed, check the bottom hole depth and the width/ depth of the handrail hole. Ideally you want the bottom hole no deeper than 1/2 inch and the handrail hole 3/4″-11/16″ width and the hole 1-1/2 inch deep.

Iron Balusters typically have a nipple on the end closest to the ornament. This is not the top of the baluster! Have you ever thought the iron baluster Nipple is the top and always goes up into the hole, but NOT true. The nipple was just a part of the manufacturing process. For the Balcony areas always place the Nipple-Down into the bottom hole. The ornament will end up in the middle of the space between the handrail and bottom – only requires one (1) cut to the longer side of the baluster.

Once the wood balusters are removed, measure the distance between the bottom nosing and the underside of the handrail, then add 1-1/2 inches to length. Cut just one baluster, then shoe-horn the baluster into place. If the holes and depth are good – continue cutting. Cut all iron for the Balcony area and install with the Base Shoe. Use Epoxy with mixing Tip to insert the glue up into the top hole and the bottom including the Base Shoe. Start by glueing the top first for each section of Balusters, than move to the bottom. Be sure to adjust each base shoe to be sure its flush. The Epoxy will dry within 1-3 hours depending on the type used.