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Dangerous handrail due to poor plaster/wall; any suggestions!?

Discussion in 'General DIY' started by potato80, 28 Nov 2020.

  1. potato80

    potato80

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    Hi all

    I'm adding two handrails to aid an elderly chap up and down the stairs.

    The internal walls that I'm drilling into for the plugs are crumbling, and are too shallow to allow the plugs a solid/snug fit (see pictures).

    The handles are wobbly and far from safe. I don't think it would take much weight for them to degrade quite quick

    Any tips too secure a handrail to an old/less-than-ideal internal wall, please?

    Thanks in advance
     

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    Last edited: 28 Nov 2020
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  3. mattylad

    mattylad

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    Can you drill even further into the solid part of the wall and use longer screws?

    Or get some 1/2-3/4" planks the rail length and screw them to the wall where you can find decent stone to drill into (the plank will cover attempts to find it, then screw the rails into and through that?
     
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  4. potato80

    potato80

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    I'll try a pipe cleaner to see how far it is to reach decent stone. Cheers
     
  5. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    Another (more ugly) solution is to fit a wooden batten then screw to that.
     
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  6. foxhole

    foxhole

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    Are you drilling 90mm deep holes?
     
  7. conny

    conny

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    Depending on the wall structure different methods may need to be employed.
    If it's plasterboard dot & dab on a brick or block wall you need screws long enough to go into rawplugs in the brick/block work.
    If the wall is lath and plaster then you need to screw into the upright studs. Not easy to fit those types of rails securely to slim upright studs even if you can find them.
    I think the best method would be to mount a backboard securely into the brickwork or upright studs and then mount the handrails to the board.
    Lets suppose it is lath and plaster. Draw a pencil line along the angle you want to mount the rails or use a chalk line, (Be careful to make both lines the same height and angle if you are fitting two opposite rails). This can be checked by tapping and if it sounds hollow you may also hear bits of plaster falling off inside the wall. You will notice a change in sound when you tap over the area of a stud. Make a small mark then measure approximately 16" (400mm) along to find the area of the next stud. Once the studs are roughly located you can dill pin holes along the angled line in the areas of the studs to give you the width of the stud. (Miss the sud, drill goes in very easily. Hit the stud and you feel resistance. Keep drilling every half inch until it goes easy again then go back an eighth of an inch until you hit the stud again.. This is the width of the stud. Draw short vertical lines each side of the stud so when you mount your backboard centrally along the angled line you will know where to screw it to. The hand rails can then be securely mounted to the backboard. To improve the look of the backboard you can chamfer each edge or round off the ends so they are a semi circle and then remove the sharp edges by rounding them off with sand/glass paper.
    If the wall is brick/blockwork then, as above, screws long enough to grip into the brickwork. The backboard can also be used in this instance but it must be securely mounted to the brickwork first.
     
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  8. potato80

    potato80

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    Using the (very good) fixings that came with the rail, I think something like that, yes
     
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  10. potato80

    potato80

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    Thanks so much, I'll get on this tomorrow. Had no idea it would be this complex!
     
  11. conny

    conny

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    It isn't always but when you are not getting a good purchase in the wall I think it's best to assume it will work loose very quickly. Old people tend to rely on aids as a sort of 'replacement' and think things will always be reliable. They seem to forget things can go wrong. As well as having an elderly FIL who is a bit unsteady, due to a hip replacement, my wife is disabled so I make sure everything around our home is secure for her. I could never forgive myself if something I did caused her injury so I will belt & braces most of the time.
     
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  12. potato80

    potato80

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    Yeah I agree. I took them out, pending solid replacement
     
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  13. mattylad

    mattylad

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    I currently have a similar issue, I bought a handrail kit which seems great - but the brackets dont line up where any battens are so all I have is plasterboard.
    I tried using the type in the pic below, got them from lidl - turns out they are utter sheite and not good enough so I have nipped to screwyoufix and got some spring toggles instead.
    Hopefully they will suffice - my daughter will be putting her weight on the rail when she uses it, so if these start to fail then Ill be getting a plank, painting it, fastening it to the vertical battens I can find then screwing to that.
    She will just be happy to have a handrail.


    upload_2020-11-28_23-14-5.png
    (funny thing about these - on the screwfix fixing and fasteners page it shows these for "heavy duty fixings" yet if you follow that, they are nowhere to be seen?)
    EDIT: Hollow wall anchors - found in the cavity wall fixings section instead lol
     
  14. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Spring toggles or plasterboard fittings are not really adequate for a handrail and can/will eventually pull out - you really need to attach the handrail firmly to the structure, be it masonry or timber studwork. If you can't hit a decent attachment point the only solution is often to fix a plywood pattress either beneath the plasterboard (in the case of a study wall requiring the making good of the plasterwork afterwards), or to the surface of the wall. This allows fixings between the pattress and the wall to be installed whetever there is a load besting point as well as allowing the load to be spread over multiple fixings. In poor masonry it may be necessary to affix a surface mounted pattress to the wall using multiple resin anchors to get an adequate fit. I tend to be aiming for a fix which will support a large (say at least 150kg) adult carrying their full weight on the hand rail as would happen in the case of a person who has slipped on the stairs
     
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  15. Wayners

    Wayners

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    Dome nut. Threaded bar. Chemical fixing, any that's cheap as there are many sorts. Make sure it fits standard mastic gun. That's assuming there is masonry and not plasterboard. Masking tape on surface thread as resin won't come off so nut won't go on. Id do one on each bracket while in place. Then fit the rest when set
     
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