Squeaky treads making a racket? Shaky railing making you unsure? Try our tips for a quieter step and a sturdier grip.
Most staircase squeaks result from a tread rubbing against the top or bottom of a riser or a stringer. To locate the problem, rock back and forth on each tread. If the tread moves, it's time for you to take corrective action. The best way to fix squeaks is from below the staircase, as shown below.
1. To tighten joints between treads and risers: Glue and screw hardwood blocks onto both surfaces. (See Illustration 1.)
2. If the entire tread is loose: Use two or three metal angle brackets to tighten it down to the riser. (See Illustration 2.)
3. If old wedges are loose: Remove them and replace with new ones. Hammer them into place by using a larger piece of wood as a driving block, as shown in Illustration 3.
If you don't have access to the underside of the staircase, try these steps for fixes from above.
Option 1: Drive in nails. Drill pilot holes at opposing angles and drive in ringshank flooring nails. (See Illustration 1.)
Option 2: Drive in new wedges. Coat wedges with glue, tap into place (see Illustration 2), and let dry. Cut off wedge ends with a utility knife.
Option 3: For uncarpeted stairs, you can tighten joints by adding molding. Cut a strip of molding to the width of the treat, apply glue and put in place. Drive nails into both risers and treads (see Illustration 3).
Wobbly handrails call for detective work. Are the rails working loose from the balusters, or are the balusters parting company with the treads? If the rail is pulling away from a newel post, adapt these techniques. Loose newel posts require help from a pro.
1. Up through the banister: Drill a pilot hole at an angle through the baluster into the rail or tread (see Illustration 1). Countersink a wood screw in the hole.
2. Through the side of the railing: Work glue into the joint (see Illustration 2) and then drive nails through from the side. Drill pilot holes for the nails.
3. If the entire railing is loose: Add blocking between the posts as shown in Illustration 3. Cut the ends on angles for a snug fit, glue in place, and then nail to secure.