Wood and Rebar Railings for our Loft and Stairs
Recently, Andrew went to work on some rebar railings for our loft and our stairs.
This is our middle son, Andrew ?
Let me say, they ended up taking way more time than we thought they would! But that’s how we seem to roll! It’s totally not his fault–learning as you go just takes an incredible amount of brain time!
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The Rebar Railings Look Great!
I will say that we are very pleased with the end product, though, so it was all worth it! The loft is much more safe, and looks great!
Reclaimed and Roughcut
We went with rough-cut reclaimed 6×6 posts for the posts, lol. We reclaimed them from the lumberyard. ? They looked lonely and couldn’t be used for outside posts, but they look quite rustic and work just fine inside! We are giving them some time to dry out a bit more before we stain them.
For the railings, we used sawmill lumber. Poplar is what we had. It has a mixture of light and dark wood. We will still be staining these as well, but we wanted to wait until we see what types of wood we will use for the flooring and walls before staining these. My plan is to use a medium-dark stain for the railings and lighter wood on the walls.
We are so incredibly blessed with an abundance of wood of all varieties!
What girl could ask for her pick of walnut, cherry, poplar, hickory, pine, or oak?
Me! I’m that girl! Thanks to a great husband who makes his work benefit our whole family! ?
Making the Hand Rails
Andrew planed the wood railings down so they were smooth, which really brought out the color of the poplar. Then he used a router bit to make the handrail curved. We liked them routed just on the top, and the bottom rail we did not route, but left it with square edges. It’s a nice mix of rustic and refined. The top rail will have a nice smooth feel, and yet we will still get the nice, rough-cut posts.
On the posts, we decided to make them overlap the edge of the floor by two inches. This gave us the chance to use the 6”x6” posts, which we liked, but they don’t protrude quite so far into the walkway. This also made them easier to secure to the edge of the loft, on the outside of the ceiling joists.
The idea is pretty simple, and it worked out very well on the edge of the loft. The stairs, however, proved to be trickier, because of the angle of the rails. It was hard to get the holes for the rebar just right, and we found that the rebar didn’t want to seat properly in the rails. Andrew eventually worked out the kinks, but it took much longer than we realized it would.
That’s the way it seems to go with figuring out things on your own. You do learn much in the process of doing it yourself!
Supplies for our Rebar Railing
Our supply list, which is probably not exhaustive, included:
- Angle grinder with plenty of cutting wheels and a wire brush attachment for sanding them down to knock off the rust. The boys used the Kobalt cordless for knocking off the rust, and a corded one we have for cutting the rebar. The corded one honestly had too much power for gentle brush grinding. We picked up the brush at Harbor Freight.
- Anti-rust spray paint—we used Krylon Fusion (primer and paint) and Rustoleum. We did ours in Satin, but also used some leftover flat and gloss, so we have a hodgepodge, which I don’t care about. They all got sprayed last with the Satin, so they coordinate.
- 6×6 posts. We used reclaimed wood for these.
- 2×4’s for the railings and bottom supports. We used sawmill rough cut lumber (poplar) and just planed the horizontal boards
- Planer. Our boys were gifted with this extremely nice Dewalt Planer literally 5+ years ago, by their forward-thinking grandfather. They have finally grown into this tool, and the work they are doing impresses and inspires me!
- Router with routing bit (we used one that created a nice angle from this kit on the railing). The boys’ grandpa also gave them a Dewalt Router Set, which they are learning how to use.
- Screws—we used 3 1/2” screws to connect the rails to the posts, 6” screws to connect the posts to the floor/ceiling joists, Then we used 8” screws from beneath to secure the posts through the floor. We used the kind with large heads–decking screws with the flat heads. See the 6” size here.
- Miter saw. Ours is Kobalt
- Driver/Drill. Ours are Kobalt, of course.
- Sledgehammer. You’re going to need one to pound the rails into place.
The basic method was to
- Cut the posts to size. Andrew cut the 6×6’s at a height of 40″– a couple inches higher than the railings. We wanted to have some sticking up.
- Cut out notch to overlap the fascia boards at edge of loft. He cut out a 4″ square, leaving 2″ to fasten over the side.
- Bevel tops of posts. He did this with the hand-held router.
- Cut all the rebar spindles. Adam actually did this. ?
- Sand/wire brush the rebar, wipe down, then paint! We used Rustoleum rust stop, and Krylon Fusion but any paint will do. I think the rust-preventing is a good kind, but inside, it should not matter. Why did we use two? Because I bought one kind, we ran out, and my husband found the Rustoleum, which he uses for everything.
- Secure posts for loft. We attached them to the exposed joists. We measured and placed them every other joist and at the corner, then decided to hook the railing into the walls on either end for strength. He used the 6″ flathead screws on the outside, and 8″ flathead screws from underneath to stabilize. We liked how the flat head screws looked. I could not find the 6″ in black at Lowe’s, so I painted some with satin paint.
- Secure posts for stairs. These, we did differently. The loft posts, he cut at 40″. These, he cut to rise 40″ above the steps, as you go up. We did this because we decided that we did not want the posts on the steps, taking up room. So, he mounted then beside the steps. The first post is 40″, then the next ones were varying sizes. I like the look of these rustic posts, and we don’t mind that they will take up a little bit of wall space. I think a cabin is very forgiving of extra posts and beams.
- Cut the railings to size.
- Plane the railings
- Route the decorative trim on railings. We just chose a simple edge that provided a curve on top, leaving the bottom straight.
- Make your holes for the rebar. Bottom first, then top rail. He calculated how many rebar pieces based on spacing them 4″ apart, according to code. A 4″ ball cannot pass through the space, or it’s too wide. Since each space was slightly different width, he calculated each separately. Then he lined up the top with the bottom rails and marked them to match. I believe he drilled the holes about 3/4 of an inch, to hold the rebar. We learned on the stairs that it’s easier to drill your holes just a tad bit wider than the rebar. But at first, he made the holes pretty close to the diameter of the rebar, and pounded them in with a sledge hammer. Once the bottom rungs are in, he attached the top, tapping it with the hammer.
- Add your spindles.
- Screw the rails into the posts, from the underside, at an angle. He used 3 1/2 inch screws for this, and they feel sturdy. At the end, he built up the framing to attach the railing to. The wall will be built around it. We placed the railings at 36″ from the floor.
- Do the stairs the same way, except you have to drill your holes and cut your railings at an angle. I found a video that helped us here, which helped us a lot. It’s not as intuitive as you might think! Like I said before, our major trouble with the stair rails (and we worked for hours!) was finally remedied when he drilled the holes bigger (wider). We tried many things, like construction glue, a lot of pounding, and many hands in the game, before Andrew tried the hole enlargement.
- At some point, we will sand, stain, and seal the wood. I know we could have done it before , but we wanted to get them up sooner for safety reasons.
Whew—that’s enough steps!
Our Rebar Railings.
I think they look great! Excuse our construction mess!
Did we save money?
Compared to regular metal spindles, for sure.
Compared to store bought wooden spindles–yes.
Compared to making our own rustic wood spindles (since Greg has an endless supply of wood)…don’t ask that. We didn’t think about doing that til we were done here.
Did we save time?
No way, José!
This project took us a very long time, and we had to do a lot of fiddling! It was not a quick, whip it out kind of project. All that rebar cutting, sanding, and painting! But mostly, the finagling the stair spindles to fit into the rails–that was the tricky part for us!!
Are we happy with it?
I love it! We all love it!
We love the rustic posts, we are proud of our first experiences in routing stuff, and I can look up into the loft and envision my kids in jail behind those bars! Just kidding! The bars are very easy to see through, so you don’t feel like you’re separated so much from the rest of the house.
I’m super proud of Andrew for sticking with this frustrating project and taking his time to do it right!
And it’s safer!
We’d be happy to answer any questions you have on the details. Just leave a comment below.
Sometimes we do small projects, like our Mason Jar/Dollar Tree Bathroom Organization Wall! That was a fun project!
Thanks for stopping in!
I hope you come again!
You guys!!! It’s beautiful and amazing. And WHAT A LOT OF WORK!!! Wow. Your house is coming along beautifully. I love seeing these pictures of it.
The boys are so helpful!!
We are learning a lot.
Way to go, Andrew!
I enjoyed seeing the pictures. Looking beautiful!
Thanks for stopping in and saying howdy!
Will pass along the greetings!
It looks fabulous!!
Thank you! I believe it was worth all the work!
It’s so nice to see someone besides us use rebar as the spindles. We did this in our house in the GA mountains in 2014. Got tired of looking at a style that I didn’t like (Colonial), so I asked my husband–who had a LOT of rebar just laying around, doing nothing, if we could possibly do this.
If they are done right, they are a lot stronger than those cheap wooden dowels that are supposed to be spindles made of pine–but they’re not.
Your final photos are exactly what ours turned out too! Great Job!
Thanks for the encouraging word!
It was not the easiest project, but I really like it and am proud of our son for sticking with it.