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Home > Balustrade Section Installation - 2

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Balustrade Section Installation - 2

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If you have not previously assembled your
Balustrade sections, please refer to
Balustrade Assembly.

Verifying the Fit
Verify the fit of the first Balustrade Section between its Posts, making note of any discrepancy in length. If overall length varies more than 1/4", double check to be sure you have the proper Balustrade Section. No Rail end should be more than about 1/8" away from the Post (or wall) when the Balustrade is finally installed. Any larger amount indicates a Rail that was cut too short, or that you do not have the correct Balustrade Section for this space. Do not install Balustrade Sections yet.

Kickspace Blocks
Kickspace Blocks Now, before installing your Balustrade Sections, mount Kickspace Blocks to the bottom of the Sloped-top Bottom Rail of any Balustrade Section more than four feet long. These Blocks will support the Balustrade Sections an appropriate height above the porch floor.

Marking positions of Blocks
Mark the positions of the Kickspace Blocks, with spacing about four feet apart. Spacing between Blocks should be equal, and the first and last Blocks should be equal distances from the ends of the Balustrade.

This spacing is not critical. A ten-foot long Balustrade Section could have a single Block in the middle, but a twelve-foot Section should probably have one at four feet and one at eight feet.

Drilling Blocks for Screws
Drill countersunk holes (sized for the screws you'll use) completely through the Blocks. Countersunk holes (such as we provide in the bottom sections of your Sloped-top Bottom Rails) are flared out near the surface, allowing screw heads to be flush with the surface. You can do this with a slightly larger drill bit than the one used to go through the Block, or a special counter sink bit.

Fastening Blocks
Now screw each Block into position on the bottom of the Sloped-top Bottom Rail.

L Brackets
Balustrade Installation We will use one metal bracket at each end of both the Subrail and Bottom Rail, or a total of four brackets per Balustrade Section.

Because of their location they generally go unnoticed. There are two ways to make these brackets even less visible. First, you can use a chisel to create a recess called a mortise for one or both 'legs' of the metal bracket to fit into. If this recess is the same depth as the thickness of the metal bracket, the bracket will be flush with the face of the post or rail and will look very professional. Once painted they will become almost invisible. If even this small amount of exposed hardware is more than you wish to see, you can recess the metal brackets sufficiently to allow a small, rectangular 'plug' of wood to be fitted over them. We do not feel this is necessary but it is an option.

The metal brackets fastened to the underside of the Rails, especially the Bottom Rail can only be seen from below and may not need to be recessed.

There is a second way to completely hide the upper attachment hardware. Start by ordering our thicker Sub-rails. After your balustrade sections are assembled and lower metal brackets (beneath Bottom Rail) are bolted to the Posts, but before the Handrail is attached, pre-drill (at a fairly shallow angle relative to the Sub-rail) through the top of each end of the Sub-rail and into the posts. Your pre-drilled holes should start an adequate distance from the ends of the Sub-rail to insure adequate holding power. Long, slender wood screws (brass or plated) will be needed to allow this shallow angle. The goal is to use almost all of the depth of the Sub-rail, without puncturing the bottom of the Sub-rail. Once your Handrails are attached, the screws will be completely hidden!

Lag Screws
You may prefer to use Lag screws to mount the bracket to the bottoms of the Sub-railings. The use of Lag screws (with their hex nut style heads) will allow use of an appropriate wrench to screw the Lag screws in where a standard screwdriver might be hindered by the closeness of the end Balusters.

Predrilling Screw Holes
It may be necessary to predrill screw holes. If you are finding it difficult to get the screws started, then predrilling is called for. Select a drill bit a little smaller in diameter than the screw portion of the screw. Drill into the Posts, wall or Rail to a depth at least equal to the screw length. Pre-drilling makes installing screws easier and is also the best defense against splitting wood with a screw.

Installing Balustrade Sections
Now, with Kickspace Blocks fastened into place, stand the first Balustrade Section into position between its Porch Posts. Make sure the Railings are centered on the width of each Post. And that the Balustrade is vertically straight. Holding the metal L bracket against the Post and centered on the width of the Rail, mark the location of the screw holes on the Post.

If you are going to mortise in the bracket on the Post you should mark the outline of the bracket first, then mark the screw hole when you have finished with your chisel.
If you are going to mortise the bracket into the bottom of the Rail, remember to allow for the change in height on the Post that will result.
If you are not going to mortise the bracket into the Post you can mark the screw holes for the bracket on the Subrail now and save a couple of steps. Or you can adjust the location of the screw hole by the depth of the mortise.
Repeat this for all of your L brackets.
The safe and sure way is to:
remove the Balustrade section while installing the L bracket on the Post,
setting it back into place to mark the screw holes for the Rails,
removing it again to pre-drill the holes in the Rails
setting it back in place to install the lag screws in the Rails.
This seems like a lot of work but it is not as bad as filling the holes with putty and doing it right the second time.

Install Remaining Balustrade Sections
Proceed to install the remaining Balustrade Sections, predrilling screw holes as necessary. Remember that the Railings should be centered on the width of each Post.

Installing Handrails
We have purposely waited until now to install the Handrails, thereby minimizing possible damage. (The Handrails were cut to length in the preceding section titled ASSEMBLY, Layout of Balustrades).

Fitting Over Sub-rails
With Handrails already painted, it's now time for their installation. Lay each pre-cut Handrail onto the appropriate Balustrade Section, checking along its entire length for proper fit over the Sub-rails. Then, using wood screws, screw from the bottom of the Sub-rail up into the bottom of the Handrail.

Screw Spacing
Use one screw 3" - 6" from each end of each Handrail, with intermediate screws approximately every 24". Be careful that the screw tips do not pierce the top surface of the Handrail. Depending upon the screws, it may also be helpful to predrill these holes. Continue to screw down (up!) each Handrail until all are firmly fastened into place.

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

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