I like to reuse vintage architectural elements where possible. It keeps them out of the landfill, and they add charm and substance to new projects. Sometimes, however, code issues can crop up when old building parts—balusters, for example—find new uses.
I had removed some old balusters during a remodel. They were in great shape, and I wanted to use them for a new stair railing. But at 29 in. tall, they were too short to meet contemporary handrail heights. As shown in the drawing, I solved this problem by adding a curb to the bottom of the railing. In this case, the curb is 8 in. tall and matches the height and style of the rest of the baseboards in the house, allowing use of “too short” historic materials in a code-approved application.
Behind the baseboards of the curb is a stack of flat 2x4s, screwed and glued to one another and to the floor with PL Premium construction adhesive (www.stickwithpl.com). An added benefit is that the newel posts, with the solid infill at their bases and surrounded by baseboards, are sturdy. The baseboards also hide lag bolts and bolt holes in the newels.
Brian A. Campbell, Minnesota City, MN
Edited and Illustrated by Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding #197