Tag Archives: handrail

Safety Insurance

One of the projects on our to-do list for prepping the house for a baby was to install a handrail for our stairs.

I never minded that our stairs didn’t have one.  Most of the time, I am pretty capable of walking down them without assistance.  Except for this one time when I fell.  It hurt and felt good at the same time.  I was a little bruised but never in my life had my back popped like that and felt so good!

Anyway, now that I am carrying precious cargo up and down the stairs, I feel like I need a little insurance to make sure I get there in one piece.  So we decided to install a handrail.  Well, Michael Luke did all the work; I was just a supervisor.

We try to be thrifty around here.  So when one of his co-workers offered ML (Michael Luke) the scrap pieces from the handrail installed at his new house, he took him up on the offer.  Neither was long enough to run the entire length of the stairs, but we were still determined to make it work by joining the two pieces together.

First though, he did a little research on the height allowed by code for handrails.  Then using a homemade chalk line (an excuse for him to go buy manly toys), we marked off the height of the brackets for the handrail.  (ML read that using baby powder instead of chalk makes clean-up much easier, but it was too light to show up in pictures.)  Next, he calculated (because math is my weakness) how many brackets we would need and began installing them.

We chose brackets in a satin nickel finish because it matches all the door hardware in our house.  It also gives it more of a clean line, contemporary look… which is good for our 30+ year old house.  ML scored a great deal on  the brackets at a local hardware store.  They were a few bucks less each than the same thing at Home Depot.

Before joining the two pieces together, he used our sanding sponge to really get the wood smooth.  Then, he trimmed the ends so that once joined, it would be the right length.

Next, ML used Elmer’s Wood Craft Glue to bond the two ends together.  Then, while it was drying, he attached the metal bracket to the bottom of the handrail for extra strength.  Once the glue was dry, he sanded it down for a smooth transition from piece to piece.

(Yes, that is his Cabella’s catalogue and my Victoria’s Secret catalogue used underneath to keep the wood off of the floor.  What can I say?  We use what we have.)

After our handrail was good and smooth, ML took it outside to stain.  We went back and forth on whether we should stain or paint.  I knew I wanted to bring out the darkest color possible in our wood (laminate) flooring shown above.  We finally decided against paint because this is such a high traffic area, and we didn’t want to have to worry about it chipping.  The stain color we chose was ebony.

ML applied two coats of stain which I think does a great job of pulling out the dark tones in the floor.

For extra protection he added three coats of Minwax Waterbased Polycrylic protective finish in Clear Gloss (left over from this project).

And here’s the end result…

What do you think?  Looks pretty good!

We ended up with a nice, smooth transition from one piece to the other.  Emma couldn’t resist being in the picture either.  That’s her spot at the top of the stairs.

Since we went with a stain, the grain still shows through.  Which really turned out beautiful.  I love how it looks against the light wall too.  Not that I am married to that color or anything…. I would love to change it.

It’s amazing how much I am using the handrail now.   I love having one and feel so much safer carrying Noah up and down the stairs now.

Do you prefer lighter or darker handrails?  No handrail?  Or painted instead of stained?

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