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We have recently bought our new house. It has two floors, and in the living room there is a small section of slanted ceiling below the staircase. In that section, there is a square piece that sticks out, which seems to be the base of the newel post (I think this is the right name?) in the second floor (made of wood). See the picture:

Newel post base sticks out of slanted ceiling

My question is, can I just cut that piece? I suppose I would put plaster and paint over after. As far as I can tell, that cannot possibly be holding anything, so I don't see why I shouldn't. However, maybe there are good reasons not to, like maybe all the wood would start to fall apart if I try or something. I don't know if this is something that happens in other houses and there is a logic to it or if the builders were just "too lazy" to give it a good finish. In case it matters, it's a British house built about 1990. Here is also a picture of the post in the second floor:

Staircase in the second floor

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Heck yes.

LOL. I've seen some wacky stuff in my day, but man. That would be high on my to-do list for sure. You could put a screw hook in it and hang a plant, I guess. :P

I'd be opening up just the sloped part of your ceiling to investigate. Do your best to stay away from the level ceiling, which has some pretty elaborate texture. You don't want to have to replicate that, and you can get away with something more conservative on the slope, or just a smooth finish.

If there are no fasteners in the way, have at it. If there are, they can almost certainly be reconfigured. You can use a nice sharp spade bit for your drill to remove post material if it's difficult to cut with a saw. A 3/4" (20mm) bit would work well.

While I'm in there I'd be adding fat beads of construction adhesive to all relevant contact points. Newel posts are rarely installed well, and even then they work loose over time. Heck, glue up your stair stringer connections as well. Use a disposable glove or some plastic wrap to cover your finger and cove the beads to spread their area. If the post has problems now, try to add cross blocking in any feasible direction and glue that in well also.

Remove the post to behind the bottom plane of the stair stringers. Float some backing behind the cut edges of the drywall and screw it in place, then place your patch.

  • Thank you, that's some good advice. We are actually getting rid of that texturing on the ceiling (hired some plasterers to scrap and skim over as it seems more than we can bite). We'll think how we may go about it then, but at least now I know we should not just cut without further inspection. Btw nice tip about the glue, the post is already loose on the second floor so surely it can use it. – jdehesa Jan 23 at 10:05
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I would not. It was probably left long like that because the attachments (bolts, screws, nails) are right where the slant is, so if you cut off the tail piece, those fasteners are now too close to the end of the wood and will break out.

I would just create a larger box around that post end, going all the way across to the wall, so that it just looks neater.

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    I personally would put an eye or hook screw into the bottom and hang a plant :) – UnhandledExcepSean Jan 22 at 20:24
  • Thanks, I didn't think of that but it makes sense. I'm accepting the other answer for the suggestions on how to cut it safely, but I will consider your suggestion. @UnhandledExcepSean Funny enough, there is a screw in one corner at the bottom which I suspect might have served such a purpose. – jdehesa Jan 23 at 9:57

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