Deck Stair Railing Construction

What You'll Need
Large beams for the posts
Nuts and bolts
Paint or varnish

When you install deck stair railing, you add both aesthetic value and safety to your home. However, if you do a poor job with this home exterior addition, you may sacrifice both the look and integrity of your deck staircase. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a weekend project.

Step 1 – Measure Everything

Carefully measure everything you’ll be using in this project. This includes the length of the stair rails, the height of the balusters and the spaces between each baluster.

Step 2 – Install Post

Install the post, which involves large beams that will hold your stair railing up on each side. Saw a square area on the first and last stair steps, and then put in both posts. Keep them secure with either nails or bolts.

Step 3 – Prepare Handrail

To prepare the railing—and to install the balusters—measure its angle so that it can be firmly attached to the post. Keep in mind that the balusters’ angles depend upon the angle created by the hand rail. Make sure to obtain exact angles.

Step 4 – Mark Hole Cutting Areas

Distinctly mark the places where you will make holes on the steps, as well as the spaces under the hand rails for the balusters. Be certain the spaces in between are even or your stair railing will look incorrect. 

Step 5 – Put in Balusters

Attach the balusters to the steps. Secure them firmly with bolts.

Step 6 – Install Railing

As your holes on the rails have been precut, you’ll simply need to lay the railing on the balusters and posts correctly. Be certain these balusters fit tightly in the railing holes, and secure them with bolts.

Step 7 – Smooth Out the Rough Spots

Lastly, smooth out any jagged edges and put on a fresh coat of either paint or varnish, which will vastly improve the stairs’ overall appearance.

Things to Remember

Be certain handrail wall brackets (if used)are attached to studs, with one at the top—as near to the second tread as possible—and the other at the bottom, as close to the second step from the bottom as possible. Also, place 1 or 2 more evenly distanced brackets—not more than 48 inches apart—for the other brackets. Keep in mind that the end of a handrail shouldn’t ever stretch more than 24 inches from end brackets.

Also, as some building codes insist on having railings on each side of the stairs, you may want to confer with your local building code enforcement departments to find out the requirements in your area.