How to Repair Loose Wood Stair Railings

Lead Image
  • 2-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-70
What You'll Need
1/8-inch drill bit
Polyvinyl glue (clear or white)
Wooden dowel (optional)

Wooden stairs are a very classic element to add to any home and wood stair railings really round out the overall style and feel of the wooden stairs. When wood stair railings are installed they are sturdy even though they may have some give to them. After prolonged use, the wood stair railings can become less sturdy and unsafe.

The majority of wood stair railings are installed using wood glue and wood screws. The glue has natural flexibility to it but screws will simply dig into the wood, splinter it, and then loosen. Using wood stairs railings that are not sturdy can cause a dangerous situation if it completely disconnects. If you hire a professional carpenter to fix the wood stairs railings, you will find a bill of several hundred dollars. The good news is that repairing wood stair railings is not hard and this article will show you how to do it yourself.

Step 1 - Determine Where the Wood Stair Railings are Loose

Wood stairs with a railing.

There is no need to repair wood stairs railings in areas where they are still structurally sound. It can take a little bit of patience and common sense to determine exactly where the railing is loose. If you grab the railing and pull on it there will most likely be some give to it. Work in small sections moving up the stairs. You will be able to tell where it is loose because the wood stair railing will move more than in other areas. You can also twist each of the rungs between the railing and the stairs. These rungs will also be loose.

Step 2 - Drill for Support

There are two ways to add support and strengthen wood stair railings. The first option is to use more wood screws. The second option, and the one explained here, is to use wood glue. You first need to drill holes into the wood stairs railings. These holes will work as a brace. Place the drill where the tread and baluster meet at a corner and on a side facing another baluster. Make sure the drill is at a 45-degree angle then make a hole that's 2 inches deep. You need to go through the tread and the baluster. Repeat this step on the reverse side of the baluster.

Step 3 - Repair the Wood Stair Railings

Wood stairs with a railing.

Hopefully both channels will connect inside the wood to create one large channel. Start with a clean surface by using the cloth to wipe away the sawdust that was created when you drilled the holes. Blow inside the channel to remove any dust present. Place the tip of the glue bottle into the hole and squeeze. If the glue does not come out the other hole then add glue to that channel as well. Use the sponge to wipe away excess glue. Allow the glue in the wood stair railings to dry for a day before putting weight on the repaired railing.

TIP: If your railings seem extra loose, use all of these steps but drill a larger hole and place a wooden dowel into the hole, then glue it in.