Phone: 510.602.0399

Stairway Installation Tips & Advice

*** Please note that these instructions are here just to give a general idea. These instructions are not “one size fits all” – each and every stairway project is unique. Check building code for all technical specifications***


Notice in the image above that the 1” reveal (space for fingers) is maintained by the handrail in both Stairway-to-Stairway and Stairway-to-Balcony layouts.

Some cities & states require continuous handrail while going up the stairs, which would require  Pin-Top Newels instead of Ball-Top Newels used for Post-to-Post systems. Check local building code for all technical specifications.


Newel Posts:

  • Check building code to see where Newel Posts are required
  • Check building code for what types of Newels are required (Ball Top or Pin Top, how tall the post should be (43″ – 59″), how long the face of the post is (5″ – 13″)
  • Count one intermediate/mid-span Newel Post for handrail over 8 feet long. For example, if handrail section is 12 feet long, an intermediate post is required at the 6 foot mark.
  • Ball-Top Newels are for Starting Posts and Landing Posts.
  • Pin-Top and Taper-Top Newels are used for continuous sections of handrail (some cities and states allow Ball-Top and Box Newels when going up the stairs for a post to post system).


  • Check local building code for all baluster spacing specifications.
  • One baluster every 4” of the balustrade.
  • 4” sphere cannot pass through the balustrade.
  • Shoes for bottom and/or top of metal balusters.
  • Shoe size matches baluster width.

Handrail & Shoe Rail:

  • Check local building codes for handrail height and sizing specifications. Some handrail models are too wide – others too tall. Limitations on size of the handrail vary depending on local building code.
  • Plowed handrails and plowed shoe rails are for square-top and/or square-bottom balusters.
  • Fillet is for filling in extra space under the plowed handrail
  • Bending handrails are for spiral or curved staircases.
  • Handrails terminating into a wall should be drilled into the wall stud (wooden plank of the building’s framework) to maximize stability. A stud finder device is used to locate wall studs behind dry wall.
  • Handrails can return into a half Newel or a Rosette, which should be attached to a wall stud.
  • If the stairway is less than 5 feet wide, only one side requires handrail (handrail on both sides is optional).
  • If the stairway is over 5 feet wide, handrail on both sides is required
  • Handrails should be continuous so that someone going up the stairs never has to let go of the handrail (this is required in some places – check local building code).


  • Check local building code for minimum width of treads and maximum height of risers.
  • Each tread and riser must be identical height and width going up the stairs.


  • Check local building code for all technical specifications.
  • One rail bolt or lag bolt per handrail end.
  • One bolt wrench or any fastening tool.
  • Wall rail brackets at a minimum of every 4 feet of handrail (excluding either ends of the handrail, which may or may not return into the wall depending on local building code).
  • One Newel bolt per solid Newel Post (more than one is okay but not required), or one Newel Plate per hallow Newel Post.
  • One Wood plug to cover each hole drilled.
  • Optional epoxy to secure metal balusters.
  • Optional shoes for metal balusters.

Installation techniques differ based on the type of stairway. Check local building code for all technical specifications.