How To Fix A Wobbly HandRail
I get many calls for loose handrails. Often times the least invasive and most cost effective solution is achieved by adding a handrail support in the middle span of the railing. This article will address how to fix a wobbly handrail.
Support The Middle Span
The reason for this is that many times the middle section is unsupported and weight applied to that area of handrail causes extra stress on the end brackets which in turn causes them to loosen or even dislodge from the wall.
Adding a handrail support support stiffens the mid rail section and spreads out the weight evenly to all the handrail brackets. If done correctly it should not negatively affect the aesthetics of the railing system.
The reason why many railings do not have a mid span bracket is because the wall is too far away and the brackets don’t reach the wall. That was the case in the photo below.
To avoid having to purchase or make a longer, “custom” handrail bracket you can simple add a spacer block to the wall. The spacer block should extend far enough to make a standard railing bracket work.
In this situation I made a decorative bracket from left over, 1 x 3″ oak strip, flooring in this house. I glued three pieces of the flooring together and then ripped it down to the thickness that allowed the handrail bracket to fit under the railing. [last photo]
Securing the Support Block
For this to work properly you will need to secure this support block to framing. Use 3-inch long screws or 16 penny finish nails and fasten the block into the stairway framing.
On interior walls you will need to find a wall stud to do this. This may mean that your mid span block is not 100 percent centered, if you’re alright with this positioning then go for it. If being off-center bothers you then consider adding a second bracket to take one’s eye off the center location. If the center location is your choice then add blocking in the wall cavity to support your bracket.
If no wall studs are available to securely fasten your support block or handrail bracket to, you may need to cut the wallboard open to add blocking. Add framing blocking between two adjacent wall studs in order to get solid and secure fastening.
In most situations adding a handrail support will solve the problem. You may need to reattach the other brackets, use longer screws, add blocking or a simply tighten everything up.
The end result was immediately noticeable and resulted in a handrail that was stiffer than the day it was installed.