I got a call from a family that needed to know how to fix a loose newel post on their stairway. This is the post at the bottom of the stairway that anchors the handrail. It’s a pretty important structural component in the handrail and baluster assembly.

Actually, the post was more than loose…it had been removed. They had put in a new ceramic tile floor and the contractor had taken a reciprocating saw and cut through the screws that had secured the post to the floor. They wanted the post put back in place. But the problem was, there was a ceramic floor tile located where the post needed to be. How would I go about anchoring the post securely?

For new construction, it’s best to secure the post to the floor joists before laying the subfloor. But I didn’t have that luxury. After researching some possible solutions online, here’s what I came up with.

I drilled a small hole in the ceramic tile centered on the location where the newel post needed to be. I stuck a wire through the hole and into the basement. A quick trip down the basement stairs revealed what I had hoped to see — the wire popped through between two accessible floor joists.

With that discovery, I decided to anchor the post with a long piece of 1/2″ threaded rod epoxied into the bottom of the post. This meant drilling a 1/2″-diameter hole about 12″ deep, centered on the bottom of the post. (I happened to have a long auger bit.) I mixed a wad of epoxy putty and stuffed in into the hole, then tapped in the threaded rod, twisting it as much as I could the get a good “bite” into the epoxy. For extra measure, I dribbled some Gorilla Glue polyurethane glue onto the rod as I tapped it in place.

I’ll enlarge the hole in the ceramic tile to 1/2″-diameter with a masonry bit. Then I’ll head to the basement and secure a block of 2-by material to the underside of the floor between the joists. I’ll head back upstairs, spread a bead of silicone on the bottom of the post, and insert the threaded rod through the hole. A fender washer, split lock washer, and nut should secure it.

We’ll see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be the first to know about it.

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