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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    2

    Default Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    Our 1929 Chicago-style bungalow has a two-section staircase joining the main floor and the upstairs - six stairs up to a landing, then turn 180 degrees, then seven more stairs up.

    I'm trying to re-mount our handrails as they were loose when we bought the house. The problem is that the wall between the stairs is only about 36" wide, and I can only find one stud directly in the center. I'm using a very powerful rare earth magnet which has been effective at finding studs.

    How do I safely mount a handrail when there is only one stud in the wall, and that in the worst possible location?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    It helps to have a real stud finder or know how to "knock" on a wall to find the studs. Once all the studs are located, you could mount a diagonal 1x6 against the wall. I nicely finished 1x6, stained to match the rail would look good. This can be attached, preferably by screws, to the studs and then the hand rail mounting hardware mounted to it.

    Now if spacing is critical here and you don't feel you can live the the extra 3/4" intrusion into the stairway, you could lay the 1x6 up against the wall where you want it positioned, then mark it ad remove the lath and plaster underneath it. That way the 1x6 would be inset into the lath and plaster wall and should only protrude by no more than 1/4". One advantage to this is that you will definitely find all the studs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,084

    Default Re: Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    There are more studs in your wall than one. There's got to be 2 on either corner in addition to the center stud, making it enough to support your new rail.

    What you don't want to do is screw it to the drywall only. You must screw it to the studs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,363

    Default Re: Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    Can you measure on the other side of the wall?

    Can you pull an outlet and measure from that hole?

    Can you look in the attic for nails through the top plate?

    Can you measure the other stud spacing in the house and transfer that width (usually 24" on older homes) to your space?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I can't seem to attach any photos, but I'll try to give some specifics about the top section of the stairwell for clarity.

    The problem is that the entire wall is only about 40" wide, and it doesn't go up to the ceiling - it's topped with original wood trim following the angle of the stairs. I've found one stud about 19" from the left (lower) edge of the wall. I can't tell if there's a stud at the left edge because the corners are covered with steel corner protectors which shroud any nails within 3" to a magnetic stud finder.

    At the top of the stairs, the wood trim on top turns vertical and runs down to the floor. If there is a stud here, it's completely covered by 3-4" wide original wood trim which I'd rather not cut or drill through.

    Thus, I have at most two studs to work with, if indeed there is one at the left edge of the wall. I could probably use Keith's idea using just these two studs for support; as far as I can tell, that's my only option here.

    Any other thoughts?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,363

    Default Re: Mounting stair hand rails in lath and plaster walls without studs?

    Molly bolts

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