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Updated: August 16, 2015
Stairs and railings are for more than just decoration. After years of use, steps can break or get loose. The railing may feel wobbly or just seem slightly loose when force is placed on it. You might have that one squeaky wooden stair announcing your presence to the world. These are not things you have to live with.
When stair railings are installed they are sturdy. After prolonged use the majority of railings start to give and wobble. Wood ones are installed using wood glue and wood screws. The glue has natural flexibility to it, but screws will simply dig into the wood, splinter and then eventually loosen. If you hire a professional carpenter to fix it, you can ensure that you are getting a proper fix. If your railings are made from a type of metal, they may need welding or soldering to steady them.
With all the wooden parts, it's pretty much inevitable that stairs will eventually start to squeak. Being walked on, seasonal contractions and expansions of the wood contribute to the loosening of the joints. Stairs constructed with glue rather than nails and screws generally are less prone to squeaking, but wear and time take their toll. The noise doesn't mean your stairs are necessarily about to fall down, but they just need tightening up.
Fixing a broken railing is a bit more straightforward, but there can be a problem if your railing is particularly ornate. If the railing is cracked, your professional may be able to repair it in such a way that it isn't noticeable, though it may not be as strong as before. If your railing is outside, you may need to replace it completely. Outside railings need special treatment to protect them from the weather. If your railings are rusted, this can be more easily repaired than if they are broken.
Every step in a staircase has two parts: the tread, which is the horizontal board that you walk on and the riser, which is the vertical board linking each pair of treads. They are joined with grooved joints or simple butt joints. Both parts are nailed to the stringers (notched plank) or held tightly in the stringer grooves by wedges driven from the underside of the staircase. If you have a broken stair, it may not just be the part that you step on but any part of the staircase.
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