Those very fine turned spindles on every staircase are something you rarely think about until one of them breaks. Then you look at the poor thing in pieces and wonder how on earth you repair a baluster?
How do you put something so delicate back together and make it just as strong as it was before? Well, fortunately as a contractor who specializes in old houses I can show you the simple trick I have used for years to make this repair.
Learning to repair a baluster Is far easier than scouring the internet looking for an exact match in style and size, which for an older home is almost impossible. Learn to fix this piece with some basic tools and you’ll be back in business in about an hour, save drying times.
How To Repair a Baluster
Typically balusters break in one place, but this repair will work whether you have one break or multiple breaks just the same. You simply repeat the same repair at each break point.
If youR baluster has broken only partially it is strangely better to finish the break cleanly and do this repair than to try to support the baluster to keep it from breaking all the way.
- 5/16” drill bit
- 5/16” wood dowel
- Titebond I wood glue
- Wood filler of choice
- 80-grit sandpaper
- Primer and paint
Step 1 Drill a Core
Using a 5/16” drill bit drill a hole about 2” deep in the dead center of your broken baluster on both sides. It’s important that the hole be dead center On both pieces so that the holes will line up when we put the baluster back together
Step 2 Dowel Together
Cut a piece of 5/16” wood dowel that will be the proper length to fit in the hole your just drilled and allow the two pieces of the baluster to fit back together. Dry fit it first and make any adjustments to the holes or length of the dowel to make sure the fit is correct.
Apply enough wood glue into the holes on each side of the baluster so that when the dowel is inserted it causes glue to squeeze out. Insert the dowel into one side and then attach the other side of the baluster so that the two pieces are fit back together tightly.
Step 3 Clamp & Cure
Using a clamp of your choice (I prefer a bar clamp) clamp the two pieces together making sure to not put so much pressure that the baluster bows out of alignment. You need just enough pressure to keep things lined up. Wipe off any extra glue and let it sit overnight.
Step 4 Fill & Sand
After the glue has cured you can take the clamp off and fill the inevitable gaps between the two pieces of the baluster. I have a whole post about choosing the best wood filler to help you decide which one to pick for your project. It largely depends on the size of the gaps that remain which wood filler you should use.
After filling the joint, sand every smooth so the repair blends in seamlessly.
Step 5 Prime, Paint, & Reinstall
Prime the wood filler and any bare wood, apply one coat of paint to the repaired areas and then one coat of paint to the whole baluster. This should result in an almost invisible repair.
Reinstall the baluster in its spot on the balustrade just as it came out and nail it into place using a couple 18 ga. nails before testing its security and you’re done.
There you have it! A DIY friendly way to repair a baluster. While it may seem like an unimportant repair, balusters are extremely important if you have little ones running around. Missing just one baluster can result in a little noggin getting wedged where it doesn’t belong. That makes this a priority repair for anyone with kids.
Check out the video above if you haven’t already to see this repair in action and how easy it really is. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter with the form below to get your free copy of my book Old House Basics.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.