How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Banister And Spindles?

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone
Replacing your banister and spindles is often a matter of beefing up your home’s style. This can be an expensive project, and prices vary based on the materials. Whether it be steel, wood, or wrought iron, let’s take a look at the cost to replace a banister and spindles.

When it comes to home renovation projects, your thoughts may first drift to redoing an outdated kitchen or bathroom. However, more ambiguous areas of the home, such as your staircase, can very easily date your home. This is especially true if most of your living areas have already been upgraded.

A staircase renovation can encompass replacing all of the staircase components or possibly just the banister and spindles. Most often, these upgrades involve a combination of replacement and refinishing.

Regardless, the scope of the project will depend on the look you want to achieve and the condition of your current staircase. The ultimate goal comes down to refreshing and enhancing the beauty of one of your home’s most eye-catching features.

The average cost to replace a banister is $1,600 and $1,400 to replace spindles. Homeowners spend $500 on wrought iron spindles, $75 on steel spindles, and $55 on each wood spindle. You can expect to pay $7.50 per square foot to finish a banister and $35 hours for a painter to paint them.

We’ve outlined all the various costs associated with replacing the banisters and spindles on a staircase. This guide will help you have an overall greater understanding of what all goes into staircase renovation and give you the necessary tools to either hire it done or perform the job yourself.

Do You Need a Wood Stairs and Railing Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Replacing Spindles

Contrary to popular belief, the pillars between the banister and treads on a staircase do not provide support. Spindles, or sometimes referred to as balusters, are generally placed 4 inches apart and their purpose is to provide protection from falling off the side of the staircase.

If you have a broken or loose spindle, it won’t threaten the entire banister, but replacing it is probably the best course of action for the sake of children and small animals. Not to mention, fixing damaged spindles will help restore the overall aesthetic.

Removing Old Spindles

Whether you’re replacing a few broken spindles or swapping out the entire set for a renovation project, the first step is to remove the existing balusters. Detaching the spindles is very simple, as they are often only secured with a tenon rig and mortise at the base and a few nails near the banister.

You can remove the spindle by either using a putty knife to break the seal at the base and wiggle it loose, or use a dead-blow hammer to whack the upper portion, loosen the nails and slide it out from the banister. If you just need one or two replaced, you can take it to a woodturner to copy the design. Otherwise, you should have purchased a full new set to install that is of your desired material.

Quick Tip: When you send the banister to a woodturner, make sure you request more copies than necessary to be made. Also, ask for the spindle ends to be left long. Trimming them yourself will allow for less chance of error.

How to Replace Spindles

Prior to installing the replacement spindles, you need to clean up the wood around the holes they will be inserted into. Scrape off any debris, dust, or old stain around the tread to allow for a tighter fit.

To prep the spindles for installation, sand and paint them to your desired appearance. The next step is the most challenging part of replacing spindles: cutting. To determine how long you need the spindles to be, use a measuring tape to measure the length and a bevel gauge for the angle.

Once cut to size, insert the spindle into the mortise and position the top end in the middle of the underside of the banister. For a sufficient bond, apply two passes of carpenter’s glue to the top of the spindle before securing it to the banister with two 2-inch nails. Finish off by covering the nail heads on the railing with a wood filler and touch-up paint.

Video: How To Install Handrail And Stair Spindles

Cost to Replace Spindles

The price you can expect to pay for replacing the spindles on your staircase will largely depend on the scope of the project. Are you replacing the entire set of spindles or just a few broken pieces? Additionally, hiring a professional for the project will cost you more than it would to DIY the replacement.

Overall, the cost to replace an individual spindle can range from a mere $3 and go up to $30 a piece. The lower price generally involves very simple wooden spindles whereas, the pricier option refers to more detailed, aesthetically pleasing alternatives. The price, including labor, to replace a full set of spindles can range anywhere from $1,200 to $1,600.

How to Replace a Banister

The banister on your staircase, also referred to as the handrail or railing, serves both a decorative and functional purpose. Functionally, it offers safety when you need some support climbing up and down stairs. Whereas, decoratively, your banister can add curb appeal to complement your home’s overall aesthetic.

There may come a time when your banister needs a makeover. While you can certainly hire someone for the job, replace it yourself by following the steps outlined below.

  • Pinpoint the spots where the banister connects to the spindles and posts.
  • Unscrews any screw fasteners or remove the nails that are securing the top of the spindles to the bottom of the railing.
  • Shift your attention to the posts on either end that secure the rail. Use a screwdriver or drill to remove the screws. If you are unable to locate the fasteners, use a reciprocating saw to cut between the rail and the wood posts. In these cases, the screws may be covered up with wood putty or the railings were constructed using adhesive.
  • If the spindles are housed in drilled holes at the base of the railing, lift the banister up. Use a hammer to tap the rail from the bottom and release any finish nails.
  • Compare the old rail with the new rail and examine for any holes that may need to be drilled for the spindles to fit correctly. Also, make sure that the new rail is the correct length and trim accordingly, if necessary.
  • Position the new rail in place above the spindles and seek the help of another person to align each spindle in the correct spot.
  • Use a level to ensure that the spindles are plumb before fastening the end of the banister to the posts.

Cost to Replace Stair Banisters

To replace a banister on a staircase it could cost you at least $700 but may reach as much as $10,000 or higher, with the average price being between $700 and $2,500. The overall expense varies based on the below factors:

  • Current banister material
  • New banister material
  • Banister type (straight, spiral, etc.)
  • Length and size of the banister

Each of these elements determines the amount of time it will take to complete the project, as well as the overall extent. Examine the table below for the banister costs based on material:

Banister MaterialPrice Per Linear Foot (Including Labor)
Wrought iron$100-$900

Wrought iron railings are generally more expensive because the metal shaping necessitates more work, especially with custom designs.

Cost to Refresh Your Banisters

If you don’t need to completely replace your banister, it may benefit from a fresh coat of paint or refinish. This is typically a more cost-effective way to refresh your staircase without breaking the bank.

The cost to refinish a banister is priced for the treads per square foot at around $5 to $10. In general, you can expect to pay between $90 and $106 for this service. On the other hand, to have your banisters painted, it’ll cost you $20 to $50 per hour to hire a painter or $5 to $20 per linear foot.

All of these costs can be greatly reduced if you consider performing the paint or refinish job yourself.

Do You Need a Wood Stairs and Railing Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

DIY Banister and Spindle Repair vs. Hiring a Professional

Accurately installing a banister requires the necessary experience. In general, banisters and spindles experience a lot of traffic and are a vital safety measure in the home. While the DIY route is always the more cost-effective option, you want to greatly avoid anything that could result in an unstable staircase.

In some cases, if the scope of the project is rather large, you may even be required to secure a building permit. n In order to ensure that the replacement is completed up to code and in a safe manner, consider hiring a professional for the job.

Related Guides

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

More by Jessica Stone