The stair newel is the post at the bottom of a landing or at the top of the stair railing. It is larger than the railings, is decorative, and anchors the railing to the floor or substrate of the home. Because they are the first posts when approaching a stairway, they generally are grabbed for balance before ascending the staircase. Since they are used in this manner, a stair newel has the most chance of any railing or baluster to become loose, squeak and creak.
Tighten the Newel Post
Every stair newel has a bolted or lag screw attachment point where it joins the stairway. Shrinkage or use may loosen the attachment and cause the newel to creak. Attachment points generally are hidden inside of a hole that is countersunk and covered with a plug. Locate and pry the plug out to reveal the bolt or lag screw hex head. Insert a socket and tighten down the head. This action alone may stop all creaking; once completed, reinsert the plug.
Lubricate the Newel Joints
At each position where the newel contacts the stair railing, it may creak. Lubricate these areas with a dry graphite lubricant. Spread the powder around the area where the newel creaks, and blow the powder -- helped by gravity -- to work the powder into the joint.
Use a Wood-Swelling Product
A newel joint may creak because the wood has shrunk. Shrunken newel wood joints are revitalized by using a wood-swell formula, available at hardware stores, that you apply into the joints. The surrounding wood in the joint will swell. This action tightens the joint, making it solid and firm to eliminate creaking on a newel.
Drilling and Screwing
Drilling and screwing a newel post eliminates creaking by reinforcing the original attachment points. Angle a spade bit, slightly greater than the diameter of a lag bolt head, through the newel base so the bolt will drive into the floor or subfloor. Drill a pilot hole for the lag bolt, and turn in the lag with a socket. If the newel still creaks, repeat the process at a different point. Firmly tighten the lags, and plug the holes with a wood plug.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images