Asked on Aug 28, 2018

How can I install a banister or railing on stairs with no side?

by Zibby

The basement stairs are dangerous - there's nothing on one side! But they are narrow and if I close them in permanently, I will have trouble getting furniture up and down. How can I put in a "temporary" or removable banister so the stairs are easier to climb and safer for children?

Narrow stairway needs banister!

  11 answers
  • Barb Barb on Aug 28, 2018

    A railing can be attached to the wall

  • OceeB OceeB on Aug 28, 2018

    Hi zibby

    I am thinking maybe a portable system. I would drill holes in each step and add a rod that can be screwed in to each step. The rods then should have multiple holes drilled all the way through for a nylon rope to go through and for the top you could go with a larger braided rope as the railing. This would be removable for furniture. This is my thinking outside the box idea 🤔

  • Winnie Winnie on Aug 28, 2018

    if It were me I’d buy these wooden natural crates from michaels $10 bucks a piece and stain or paint them. One would fit standing up on each step nicely. You could Velcro them onto the steps so they can’t be kicked off but they’re removable by an adult to bring down furniture, etc. if theres enough room on each step you could keep the open side up and store all kinds of goodies. The important thing is putting something there for visual security so it’s not closed off but it’s not open either. You could stack them as high as you need for safety just zip tie them together. A simple hand rail on the wall side will keep the kids aware of which side they should be leaning in on when going up or down. If you wanna get more permanent there’s cable type systems that are popular now that keep it safe yet visually open which can be a more permanent option down the road.

    • See 1 previous
    • Winnie Winnie on Aug 29, 2018

      I disagree. She’s trying to keep it open. She just needs a little something to keep it safe. These crates nest upon each other. She’d only need 11 the way I see it.

      Bookcases/shelving that slim would have to be mounted ceiling to tread & that’s only if you could find any that size. Surely that’s custom and not at all temporary. I can see a shelving system in the future as a great permanent solution. A kind of mid-century modern vibe if that’s what’s going on in there.

  • Leeann Lott Leeann Lott on Aug 28, 2018

    Cheapest and easiest thing to do is use threaded Galvanized pipes from the hardware store. You screw the round flange parts on each stair put 30 to 36 inch tall uprights measure distance between uprights and put short threaded pieces between and connect with T fittings. Nearly indestructible, keeps some critters from slipping thru and remove by hand or with pipe wrench or spread them out a little further and used welded wire screen and attach that with clamps, that should keep all creatures within stairway.

  • William William on Aug 28, 2018

    I problem is handrails need to meet building and safety codes. Here is a project that can make a handrail removable.

    And How to build a handrail.

  • 17335038 17335038 on Aug 29, 2018

    You are right that this situation is dangerous, and not only for children. One slip and anyone is only a fall away from becoming seriously injured.

    If you want to have a 'railing' that provides something to hold and help protect while using the stairs, and is removable for furniture movement, then I would suggest incorporating rope into the design. Here are a some ideas below that do not require closing in the side of the staircase, or building an additional wall. For added security you might also consider mounting an additional single rope banister on the wall.

  • 17335038 17335038 on Aug 29, 2018

    William is right in that some designs may not meet new build safety codes.

    However, your stairway is not a new build being constructed by a licensed builder who will be signing off on the work. It is existing. It could also be argued that what you have at the present time is even less safe than having something to hang on to while on the stairs, and the goal of your project is to make the stairway safer.

    Decor schemes or diy improvements to a home may become a problem if the home is up for sale and a potential buyer pays to have a home inspection as a condition to the offer to purchase. A certified home inspector is obliged to reveal any aspect of home/property that they deem as a potential safety hazard, or those that do not conform to current code.

    You are free to decorate and revise the interior of you home any way you choose.

  • Zibby Zibby on Sep 09, 2018

    Is there anything that works with tension (vertically) so I don't have to drill into the new steps or the new floor? With vertical tension rods I could then use the rope idea. Not the safest, but the most open...

  • Phaedra Phaedra on Dec 04, 2018

    Wrought iron porch columns. Make a one piece unit with matching stair finished wood at top and bottom. One column per step. Make sure to get them wide enough so that a kid cant get their head stuck between them. ( And yes somebody will try that). Screw or bolt to floor and ceiling to make sturdy. Undo and remove unit when you need to move furniture.

    Here is an example. I picked this one because its kind of plain. Theres lots more designs out there.

  • Kc Kc on Dec 04, 2018

    Hi Zibby, you say these stairs are dangerous and you need a safe solution for children. Please do not try to cut corners and install something that a child will push against, hang from, or crawl through. Putting up a flimsy barrier held in place by tension, or worse, just plopped on the edge of a tread, is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Anyone who slips on the stairs isn't thinking "oh yeah, this railing is fake". They want a safe railing to hold their weight.

    Bite the bullet and do this right. Choose a code compliant product. Attach it with screws so you can temporarily remove it when needed. I'm seeing lots of creative options that may pass code.

    If or when you sell this home, this staircase will have to be up to code so it doesn't make sense to spend time and money on anything less.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jul 04, 2023

    Hi Zibby, hope this helps you out. You can use metal or wood for this