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Hand Crafted, Classically Inspired Architectural Columns, Balustrades & Details

MarbleTex™ Synthetic Stone Balustrade Installation Instructions

READ AND UNDERSTAND ALL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU BEGIN.

The installation and structural integrity of the balustrade system is the responsibility of the installer. The manufacturer will not be liable for installations that do not meet local, national or international codes.

General Instructions and Suggestions

  • Use blue painter’s tape on the bottom of your Skil saw when cutting rails to prevent marking of the product.
  • Clean final cuts with a belt sander or a small angle grinder.
  • Keep balusters and rails covered until installed to keep them clean and prevent water from entering the parts.
  • Store rails on a flat surface.
  • Tools needed:
    1. Compound Miter saw and Circular saw with masonry or diamond blades
    2. ⅜” or ½” drill with bits
    3. 1” diamond tip hole saw
    4. Small angle grinder with abrasive discs.
    5. (4) 1” ratchet trailer straps
    6. 3/16” x 4” masonry bit
    7. ½” masonry bit for countersink
    8. (1) bag of sacrete per newel post
    9. Bondo Auto Body Filler
    10. ¼” x 3 ¼” Stainless steel deck screws; torx or square drive
    11. Polyurethane Adhesive (PL exterior grade ; available at Lowes) or (3M 5200 marine grade)
    12. Blue painter’s tape
    13. Cedar and Pine shims
    14. Standard carpenter’s hand tools and bits
    15. 100 grit sandpaper
    16. For stair installation ½” CPVC pipe (see below)

Basic Instructions

  1. For the 36” rail system lay out the 39” newel posts per your plan in the locations required. Make sure the 11” flat surface below the raised panel is to the bottom.  If there are stairs off the deck, set the top newel posts 2” back from the outside of your deck. Newel posts for the bottom of the stairs are 45” tall with one flat panel. Make sure the flat panel is towards the stairs and the 11” flat surface below the raised panel is to the bottom. These lower stair newel posts go against the bottom riser.
  2. Stand each newel post in its location and mark the outside corners of all the posts.  Then move each post to the side and out of the way. From the marked outside corner of each post draw an X corner to corner. For concrete decks, locate and drill (3) ¾” holes  4” deep. Epoxy (3) ⅝” x 24” long pieces of non-corrosive rebar into the holes.  For wood decks, install to the rim board treated 4” x 4”s using liquid nail and (6) ¼” x 3” lag bolts. 
  3. Corner newel posts have (2) 90° flat panels; thru newel posts have (2) flat panels on opposite sides; the stair newel has one flat panel installed toward the stairs, and end posts have panels on 3 adjoining sides. When installing rail at a 42” height use a 45” tall newel post, again positioning it so that the flat panel is toward the stairs.
  4. Measure the distance between newel posts at the bottom of the posts. Deduct ¼” for expansion and contraction.  Measure and mark your cuts on the rails for the entire job BEFORE you make any cuts on the rails. Start with your longest lengths first, saving your shortest lengths until last. Cut the top and bottom rail the same length if the newel post does not have a base around the bottom.
  5. Cut the 1 ½“rail support blocks the width of the bottom rail and glue them to the rail. Support blocks will need to be placed at each end of the rail and in the center.  Additional blocks should be placed between the center block and the end blocks on 36” spacing. Set the bottom rail in place. Check for bows in the span. Grind the support blocks or add cedar shims so that the bottom rail is level and straight between the newel posts.
  6. When spacing the balusters be sure to comply with the baluster spacing codes in your area. Layout the balusters position on the bottom rail making center lines and edge lines for each baluster according to the dimensions of the specific style used. Make sure your lines are square to the edge of the rail. Using these alignment lines is important to the finished appearance of the project.  Lay the top rail beside the bottom rail and transfer all the lines to the top rail. Drill 1” holes in the rails following your baluster centerline marks.
  7. Use cedar shims on the bottom of the newel posts to plumb the newel posts if necessary. Clamp a temporary support prop to each post to steady the post. Install 1/8” pine spacer shims, one on each end of the bottom rail making sure the shim is not in the way of the ( 4) attachment screw positions.  On both sides of the top of the bottom rail, measure back 1 ½” from the end and 1” in from the outside of the rail. Mark these positions.  On the sides of the bottom rail measure back 1 ½” from the end and 1 ½” up from the bottom. Mark these positions.  These (4) positions are the drill points for your attachment screws.  At each position, on a 45° angle, using a ½” bit, countersink a 3/8” deep hole. Change bits to a 3/16” x 4” masonry bit and keeping the 45° angle, pilot drill into the newel post. Install (4) ¼” x 3 1/4” stainless steel  square drive or torx drive deck screws. Caulk all screw holes. DO NOT USE HAMMER DRILLS ON RAILS.

    For rails between columns use the same techniques after you have cut and dressed the ends of the rails to the desired radii to fit the column. If you are fitting a base around the column at the height of the rail it is suggested that you split the base and fit the base around the rail at the split.  Again caulk all screw holes.

    Due to the manufacturing process our balusters may be up to 3/16” difference in length. Measure each baluster and put matching lengths together in the same balustrade section. Apply 1 ½” blue painter’s tape 28” above the floor such that it goes around the entire balustrade section including newel posts.  The tape will keep the balusters in position before the top rail is attached. Apply a ½” bead of premium polyurethane exterior grade adhesive 1” in from the perimeter of the bottom baluster square. Place the baluster guide pin into the drilled hole in the bottom rail taking care not to smear adhesive onto the rail.  Keep the top of the baluster inside the blue tape so that the baluster will not fall over.  Repeat for all balusters in that section. Put a ½” bead of adhesive on the top of all the balusters 1” in from the perimeter of the baluster square.  Set one end of the top rail down on the end baluster pin then work towards the other end of the section putting each top guide pin into the corresponding top rail hole. Take care not to smear adhesive as you go.

    Strap the assembled rail section together. Use simple trailer straps with cardboard under the straps to protect the rail.  Tighten the trailer straps and realign the balusters as needed before the adhesive sets. Also scrape off any excess adhesive with a putty knife.  The next day remove the straps and clean off any remaining adhesive with fine sandpaper.

    Install 1/8” pine shims on the ends of the top rails in the same fashion as the bottom rail again making sure to keep them out of the way of your attachment screws.  On the side of the top rail measure back 1 ½” from the end of the top rail and 5/8” down from the top of the rail. Mark that point on both sides of the top of the rail.  On the bottom of the top rail measure back 1 ½” from the end and 5/8” up from the bottom and mark those points on both sides of the bottom of the top rail. These four positions are the drill points for your attachment screws. At each position, on a 45° angle, using a ½” bit, countersink a 3/8” hole. Change bits to a 3/16” x 4” masonry bit and keeping the 45° angle, pilot drill into the newel post. Install (4) ¼” x 3 1/4” stainless steel  square drive or torx drive deck screws. Caulk all screw holes. DO NOT USE HAMMER DRILLS ON RAILS. For rails between columns use the same techniques after you have cut and dressed the ends of the rails to the desired radii to fit the column. If you are fitting a base around the column at the height of the rail it is suggested that you split the base and fit the base around the rail at the split.  Again caulk all screw holes.

Standard Stair Installation

  1. Use the same installation procedures outlined above, but DO NOT strap these sections together.  Also you must offset the 1” rail holes slightly from the layout lines to prevent the balusters from sliding down the rail during installation (see illustration I).
  2.  Stair balusters have a 5” tall top and bottom square section. This taller section gives you more material to cut the baluster to the pitch of the stairs. Find the shortest baluster (due to material shrinkage during manufacturing). Cut the proper stair pitch angle on the top and the bottom of this baluster(see illustration H). Cut this template so that the baluster is as long as possible. Use this baluster as the template to cut the remaining balusters for the stairs.
  3. When you cut these balusters you will cut off the top of the CPVC guide pins running through the baluster. To replace those pins simply cut 1/2” CPVC pipe to an appropriate length, bevel one end (like you would sharpen a pencil) then drive the new piece into the old piece remaining in the baluster. These pins will then fit into your rail holes.

Radius Stairs to a Newel Post with Round Column

  1. Make sure you have the proper rail in the proper position. You must identify the left and right rails and the top and bottom rails. They are not interchangeable.
  2. Fit the bottom rails between the newel posts or columns. Follow the same installation instructions. Please note however the balusters will have compound miters top and bottom according to your individual requirement.
  3. Set the column back enough to accommodate the newel post. If you do not have enough space for a full newel post you must split the newel post and fit it to the available. Screw the newel post to the column using the techniques described above. You will also split the base of the column and cut it to fit the newel post.

Final Instructions – After All Sections Are Completed

  1. Mix Sakrete with very little water, and pour and tamp this mixture no more than 6” up from the bottom of each newel post. Do not allow rain to pool inside the newel post during construction, and before the newel cap is installed. If water collects inside the newel post, or if the concrete mixture is too wet, freezing weather may cause the newel post to crack.
  2. Attach the newel post cap to the newel post using 3M 5200 adhesive.
  3. Remove all pine shims.
  4. Caulk all joints and screw holes.
  5. Wash entire balustrade system with Simple Green Cleaner and remove stubborn stains by sanding with fine sandpaper.
  6. Caulk the tops and bottoms of all balusters; the ends of the top and bottom rails at the newel posts.

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