Learn how to build a modern DIY stair railing for your staircase.
Good things take forever. At least that’s what I’m telling myself about my recent staircase makeover that I shared yesterday.
After 4 long months, it’s finally done. Today I’m sharing my DIY stair railing makeover tutorial.
I had a vision for this staircase and I’m so glad that it came out even better than I anticipated.
I feel like this post needs a few disclaimers. So let’s get those out of the way.
- This is a super long post.
- This DIY is not for the faint of heart. It wasn’t easy and it made me want to cry a few times. We had to walk away from it several times and come back to it. There are just so many steps and we had to do everything twice since there are 2 sides to the staircase.
- When working on a project, I don’t stop to tidy while taking pictures. As a result, my pictures show a lot of messes. Sorry about the real life. 😉
- Semigloss Design is not responsible for any accidents or code violations. Please look up your own local codes before attempting projects that could cause bodily harm. Be safe, people.
We recently used a similar technique to create a modern deck railing. Check it out!
Modern DIY Stair Railing Makeover
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- (4) 2 x4’s
- (10) 1×2’s
- (4) Lattice boards
- Drill and drill bits
- Mitre saw
- Nail gun and air compressor
- Wire cutters, tin snips or bolt cutters
- Staple gun (we use the one in our air compressor kit)
- Wood filler
- Caulk (paintable)
Making the Newel Post and Handrail
- Cut a 4×4 to 4′. It doesn’t need to be the exact size just yet. To fit our stairs, it had to have a portion of it notched out. The bottom stair looked like this:
Building the grid panel
We used 16 gauge fencing for the panels. It seems flimsy on its own, but sandwiched between the frames makes it incredibly sturdy. I highly recommend wearing gloves during this project. Cutting wire can be dangerous.
***Each panel consists of 2 panels, so for stairs, we had to make 4 in total.***
- Figure out the angles for the panel pieces. You’re probably a pro by now. Ours were 42 degrees just like our stairs, but I would still check it just in case. Our code calls for no spaces over 4″, so we left a 4″ gap between the panel and the newel post. You don’t have to leave a gap, but it gave us plenty of wiggle room for mistakes. (Insert foreshadowing.)
- Drill pilot holes in the top and bottom rails. We lined them up to drill the holes. Once they were drilled, they needed countersink holes drilled. Since the wood is 1 1/2″ thick, you need to drill down a bit so that you can use a shorter screw.
Make sure you’re drilling into the bottom of the top rail and the top of the bottom rail because you will be attaching the pieces from the panel side into the handrail and bottom rail. We don’t want to have a million screw holes on the handrail and the bottom rail is going to be hard to access from underneath.
Attach the grid panel to the stair railing
- Attach the panel to the bottom rail first. Remember that wonkiness I talked about? It’s about to become clear.
- Despite fitting perfectly during the dry fitting, getting the wire night and tight warped the frame a bit and now there’s a gap. Womp womp.
- Use deck screws to screw into the railing. Good screws and a strong drill will force the panel and the railing to come together.
- That almost fixes it perfectly. However, the corners don’t quite meet.
- I decided to hide the last bit of wonkiness with trim. I used lattice boards because they are very thin and minimal. If you aren’t painting your stair railing, use real wood lattice. The lattice boards were attached with a nail gun.
- The stair railing is done at this point and is ready for the finishing steps. I know, more work.
Finishing the DIY stair railing makeover
- Fill all the screw and nail holes with wood filler.
- Sand them smooth.
- Caulk all the edges.
- Paint! Because I really know how to party, I found a tiny paintbrush to get between the cracks of the 2 panels.
Whew! So much work, but so worth it. I’m thrilled with the results! Maybe just easy projects from here on out!
Other Staircase Renovation Posts
- Remove carpet
- Remove railings
- Wallpaper hallway
- Paint and stain stairs
- Install Runners
- Copper Pipe Handrail
- Staircase Reveal
Pin for Later!