Q: I’d like to upgrade the handrail system of my staircase. How are the newel posts typically fastened to the floor?
A: Often, a newel post will be fastened with a metal bracket that surrounds its base. The bracket surrounds the post and is screwed into all four sides as well as to the floor. Wood molding is then applied to the bottom of the newel to conceal the metal bracket. To remove a newel for replacement, first pry off the wood molding and then unscrew the fasteners from the mounting bracket.
If you don’t want to use wood molding, you can mount the post through the floor and tie it into the framing, which is by far the strongest and most durable method of installation (but also the most difficult). An easier alternative for a molding-free installation is to use a hanger bolt with a steel insert. The floor is drilled to accept the steel insert where the center of the newel post will be, and the insert is then installed. The hanger bolt is then threaded into a predrilled hole in the center of the post. The hanger bolt is placed into the insert, and the post is threaded down tight. The most secure way to tighten the hanger bolt is to drill a 1-inch hole in the side of the newel that intersects the hanger bolt. This access hole allows you to thread a nut and washer onto the end of the hanger bolt, and then conceal the hole with a wood plug.