Our lake house basement project is getting so close to being done! This DIY project has been a ton of work but work that we have both enjoyed doing.
Spring has come to the lake and along with our grass getting green, the trees are starting to leaf out.
We started this project last August and I’ve been chronicling our work as we complete it.
- Lake House Basement Project Plans
- Lake House Basement – Update One
- Lake House Basement – Update Two
- Lake House Basement – Update Three
- Lake House Basement – Update Four – Paint
- Lake House Basement – Update Five – Flooring
- Lake House Basement – Update Six
- Lake House Basement – Update Seven
- Lake House Basement – Update Eight
- Lake House Basement – Update Nine
- Lake House Basement – Update Ten – Installing a Newel Post
- Lake House Basement – Update Eleven – Installing a Banister
- Lake House Basement – Update Twelve
Finishing the Staircase
The main accomplishment of the weekend was finishing the basement staircase.
Eventually, we may remove the original banister but for now, we are leaving it in place.
The steps will be painted and we will install this runner.
I am very proud of the hard work that Mr. SP did to install these metal balusters. Since they were installed on an angled knee wall, this project was especially tricky.
I heard him muttering cosign, tangent and other math terms that I haven’t used since high school when he was making his installation plan. I stayed out of his way as he completed this project.
I’ll let him explain the process!
How to Install Metal Balusters
We first ran a plumb line onto the knee wall, directly below the centerline of the banister. We used painters tape underneath the entirety of the banister and onto the knee wall at intervals onto which we put pencil marks to mark the centerline. We then scribed the centerline up the knee wall with a pencil
On that centerline, we marked 5″ intervals up the knee wall. With the ~40 degree slope of the knee wall, this meant that the balisters would be less than 4″ apart (measured horizontally).
We used 1/2″ hollow aluminum balusters and an install kit from Home Depot specifically for those balusters. The install kit comprised of a round plastic base “plug” for the bottom, and a round rubber “cork” for the top. Using a spade bit, we drilled 3/4″ holes, approximately 1″ deep, at the specified marks up the knee wall for the bottom plastic “plug”.
The plastic “plugs” were tapped into the holes just drilled. These form the base for the ballusters.
With the base plugs in place, a laser level was used to mark the position of each baluster location above those already drilled into the knee wall. This was done for the entire length of the stairs – from the banister, onto the ceiling.
The centerline was marked for each of the baluster locations under the banister. A 3/4″ hole was drilled, approximately 1″ deep, at each of these locations.
This made another mess to be vacuumed up before proceeding. Prior to starting the baluster installation, the knee wall face board was painted with white trim paint.
Into these top holes, the rubber “cork” was inserted. These corks have a hole in the center, into which the round end of the baluster is inserted.
The balusters were cut to length by measuring the distance between the bottom plug and the top cork. 3/8″ was added to this dimension to account for the top of the baluster that fits inside the top cork.
Balusters were cut with a right angle grinder with a metal cutting wheel. The aluminum is soft, and cutting is easy.
The installation kit purchased has fittings for the bottom of the baluster. These fittings have a screw and two nuts on the bottom. When the baluster is inserted into the top cork, the bottom screw/nut fits into a corresponding recess in the bottom plug. The baluster is then rotated to lengthen the screw to tighten the baluster into place. The nut is then tightened against the fitting to keep the baluster screw from turning.
We used baluster shoes to hide the hardware on the top and bottom, and to give the stairs a finished look. Angled shoes were used for the bottom and top of the balusters. Where the balusters connect to the ceiling, flat shoes were used (unfortunately, not shown in any of the photos). The shoes are held in place by a set screw.
Though I am using an english set of allen keys, the set screws are metric. I was able to get most of the shoes in place, but waited to finish until I brought the correct metric allen keys from home to finish the job. For that reason, the balusters at the upper end of the stairs do not have the shoes in place.
Sherman is our constant companion during all this work.
In this photo, you can see the top shoes resting on the bottom of the balusters – prior to being moved into position at the top of the baluster and screwed into place.
Paula here! We both are thrilled with the outcome of our stair project.
There’s a bit of touch-up painting to be done, that is the reason for the Frog tape.
We need to finish putting the shoes in place on the balusters.
We also need to add a banister piece to the basement wall extending from the new banister to the doorway. This will wait until we apply the wallpaper on the stairway walls. For now, the old banister will remain in place on the opposite wall.
Look for a separate post coming tomorrow showing what I accomplished while Mr. SP was hard at work installing the balusters.
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