If your wooden balustrade is damaged or if you just don't like the style any more, you may need to remove it. If you want to try doing so on your own, take a look at the following steps. They provide an overview of the process so you know what to expect.
1. Remove Hardware Securing the Balustrade to the Posts
To free the balustrade from the newel posts or end posts on your staircase, you need to find the connecting hardware. In most cases, this consists of screws drilled diagonally through the base of the balustrade and into the posts. You need a drill to remove these screws.
2. Find Glue and Nails Around Balusters
Once you've dislodged the balustrade from the post, you need to break it free from the balusters.
Start by looking closely over the balustrade to find any nails attaching it to balusters, and try removing them with the claw of your hammer. Then, grab a putty knife, and look on the underside of the railing. The ends of the balusters are usually stuck into the base of the balustrade, and if you see glue, you should score around it with a putty knife.
Then, take a mallet and gently strike the underside of the balustrade on either side of each baluster. That should dislodge the balustrade, and make it relatively easy to pull free.
If you're dealing with an old balustrade that has been repaired several times, anticipate that there may be nails and glues that you don't see at first. As a result, the balustrade can be hard to remove, and you may not get it off intact.
3. Replace Any Broken Balusters
At this point, take advantage of the opportunity to replace any broken balusters. With most wooden staircases, the edge of each step (along the side with the railing) features a small wooden cap, usually attached by pegs into holes in the staircase.
In most cases, you can pry off the cap with a pry bar. At that put, you should be able to pull out the baluster and replace it.
4. Consider Replacing the Newel Posts
You may also want to replace the newel posts, the supporting beams at either end of your balustrade. For example, if their current style doesn't mesh with the new balustrade you plan to put in, you may want to replace the newel posts.
To get help with removing your existing balustrade or for help finding and installing new balustrades, contact a stairway expert today.