What to Do About a Loose Handrail?

Help, I Have a Loose Handrail, Now What?

In many households the handrails on the steps leading down into the basement, or up to the second floor can become loose or actually fall off the wall. The repeated use of the handrail, especially by children swinging and sliding down the baluster or handrail will have a tendency to loosen up the brackets that attach the handrail to the wall. This loosening will become progressively worse as time goes on, and in all cases, a loose handrail must be secured.

Standard homeowner skills with a screw driver, drill and various fasteners will normally secure the rail. The basic requirement to properly anchoring the bracket to the wall is to find something in the wall that is substantial, and will provide a secure attachment for the bracket fasteners. This is in most instances a stud or wood blocking, that was installed within the wall to initially secure the handrail bracket.

When installing a new handrail or a replacement handrail it is essential to install wood or metal blocking or strapping to allow the fasteners for the handrail bracket to bite into. Simple drywall or plaster is not adequate to secure a handrail bracket. If the handrail is an existing one, the removal of the handrail as well as the brackets will allow easier access to the wall to enable the handrail to be secured. Although it may appear to be a larger job than necessary, in most instances the total removal of the existing rails and brackets will allow the wall to be opened up and proper blocking installed. Blocking such as plywood or separate pieces of two by six or two by eight blocking between the studs, will provide the type of permanent support that the handrail requires.

It is best to perform the work the proper way to prevent further loosening of the brackets and the handrails. The use of wood screws is normally adequate to support the handrail brackets, once the proper permanent blocking is installed. If the wood screws do not appear adequate, the use of molly bolts with the expansion wings on them will definitely ensure the proper securing of the handrail to the wall.

If the handrail brackets continually work themselves loose, the hiring of a professional handyman or carpenter will solve the problem and ensure that it does not reoccur.


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