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Home > Products > Porches - START HERE! > ONLINE PORCH GUIDE > Understanding the Porch > Decorative Porch Parts > The Balustrade > Baluster Info > Notching of Balusters

Notching of Balusters

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Exterior wood Balusters should only be installed with Sloped-top Bottom Rail. They will need an inverted 'V' notch 120 degrees wide to fit our standard Sloped-top Bottom Rail. (136 degrees to fit our Large Sloped-top Bottom Rail.) To have us notch your non-stair Balusters use the Bottom Notching pop-down at the item listing.

Notching for Stair Balusters
A sloping notch (compound notch) will be required for Balusters used on stairs. Typically, you will want to order one size longer Balusters to compensate for this compound notch.

We do not offer compound notching as every situation varies. This notch should be made onsite so test pieces can be made. You will want to order the Balusters used on the stairs longer and un-notched. Below is an explanation of how to notch Balusters for use with our Sloped-top Bottom Rail on stairs:

Compound Notch Instructions
A compound cut (2 angles at once) will be required, since the notch itself must slope to match the slope of your stairs. A skilled carpenter, following the instructions below, will be able to properly notch your Balusters.

Test Pieces
It is always a good idea to make test cuts in a scrap of wood and test fit everything prior to final notching of Balusters. The final test piece should be saved as a pattern.

If the angle of slope on your stairs is 45 degrees, and since our Sloped-top Bottom Rail is beveled to 30 degrees per side (our Large Sloped-top Bottom Rail is beveled to 22 degrees per side), a properly sloped notch can be cut as follows:

Set Blade and Arm
Using a radial arm saw, set the blade to a 30 degree bevel to match the slope of either side of our Sloped-top Bottom Rail. Swing the arm of the saw to match the slope of your stairs (45 degrees in this example). Set the height of the blade to cut halfway through the Baluster.

First Cut
With one edge of the Baluster along the fence of the saw and the bottom of the Baluster closest to the saw blade, crosscut to the center of the Baluster.

Second Cut
Swing the arm to the other side of the saw table and reset at the same 45 degrees. (Blade bevel remains unchanged at 30 degrees.) Flip the Baluster over and complete the notch with another crosscut.

Maintain Accuracy
If your angle settings are correct and the depth of each cut is to the center of the Baluster, the two cuts should meet cleanly at the bottom of the notch. Frequently compare your cuts to the previously prepared pattern to be sure the saw is staying properly set.

PVC Avoids Notching
Notching can be avoided on both straight runs and stair rails when using AZEK PVC Rails with PVC Balusters, as moisture drainage is not an issue when both Rails and Balusters are PVC.

We are now producing a 100% AZEK two-piece bottom rail with a 1" thick flat top piece. Azek is approximately 40% more expensive than our standard Poplar, but offers a simpler installation and is maintenance free.

We are available by phone or email for free personalized consultation.

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