How to Replace Rotten Newel Post Facing Boards
By: Danny Lipford
Newel posts at the bottom of outdoor porch or deck steps often consist of a rot resistant, pressure treated wood 4×4 surrounded by untreated facing boards, which can rot over time.
Here’s how to replace the facing boards around a newel post without having to replace the post itself.
To replace newel post facing boards:
- Remove Rotten Facing Boards: Use a pry bar to remove the rotten facing boards around the treated 4×4 center post.
- Cut New Facing Boards: Use pressure treated or other rot resistant wood for the new facing boards to prevent problems in the future. The facing boards should be at least 1” wider than the center post, so the facing boards for a 4×4 post (which actually measures 3½” by 3½”) should be a minimum of 4¼” wide. Cut the facing boards to length slightly less than the distance from the top of the post to the ground.
- Assemble Facing Boards: Use corrosion resistant (galvanized or stainless steel) nails to attach the edges of the four facing boards together so they form a square column that has only one edge of each board showing.
- Attach Facing Boards to Post: Slide the facing board column over the top of the center post and use nails to attach it in place with the handrail side of the facing boards against the post.
- Secure Handrail to Post: Use nails to attach the handrail to the new newel post facing boards.
- Cut and Attach Cap: Cut a pressure treated or rot resistant wood cap board so it overhangs the newel post by ½” to 1” on all four sides. Use a circular saw, table saw, or router to cut 45° angle bevels around the top of the cap on all four sides. Secure the cap to the newel post with nails and top it with a wood finial if desired.
Watch this video to find out more.
- How to Build Wood Deck Handrails (video)
- Building Handrails for a Wooden Deck (video)
- Repairing Rotten Porch Flooring and Railings (video)
- How to Replace Rotten Wood Column Base Trim Boards (video)
Danny Lipford: This newel post, like many columns, is a four-by-four post wrapped with one-by-six boards. The post and handrail are sound but the one-by-sixes have rotted, so they’re being removed and replaced with pressure treated wood.
Cut four pieces of one-by-six slightly shorter than the height the four-by-four post is above the ground. This will keep them from absorbing moisture from the ground.
Next, nail the four pieces together with butt joints at the corner so they form a square column. Now, each face should have one seam that’s visible. This column will slide down over the four-by-four post.
Now, pull it tight against the post on the handrail side, since that where the support will be needed the most. Now, once the wrapper is nailed to the post, the handrails can be re-attached with finish nails driven at angles.
The top of the open column is capped with a piece of one-by-eight cut an inch or so larger than the column and nailed right on top of it.
Finally, the new newel post is topped off by screwing in a decorative finial in the center of the cap.