How to Install a Metal Outdoor Stair Railing

gloved hand wiping a metal handrail
  • 2-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-200
What You'll Need
Posthole digger
Railing kit
Metal cutting saw or angle grinder
Spirit level
Measuring tape
Drill with metal and wood bits
Instant setting concrete 1 bag
Bucket of water
Cement trowel

Your outdoor stair railing gives a first impression than can be good or poor, depending on how well it is installed and maintained. This guide assumes the stairs are based on soil at the bottom. If you have installed your stairs on a concrete floor, you will need to attach the posts to the concrete instead of digging holes.

Step 1 - Dig Holes for the Bottom Posts

If you have pavers or bricks on the ground under your steps, take these up so you can dig the holes for the upright posts. The top of the railing will be attached to the porch columns.

Using the spade and then the post hole digger, dig the holes at the bottom of the stairs where the bottom posts will go.

Step 2 - Install the Posts

Using the saw, cut the sleeve for the post to the right length. Place the post inside the sleeve, then use the plastic inserts to cap both ends of the sleeve. Position the post assembly into the hole with one edge facing square to the house. Make sure it is vertical with the porch post. Backfill enough dirt from the hole to keep it in place, but don't fill the hole entirely. Repeat with the other post, making sure they are both level and in line.

Step 3 - Screw on the Brackets

outdoor metal handrails

Position one of the brackets against each post and mark the holes on the posts with the pencil. Drill the holes with the correct size bit for the job. Make sure again that the brackets are level and screw them onto the posts with the screws.

Step 4 - Install the Top Brackets

Measure the height of the porch column mounting brackets and mark the screw holes with the pencil. Drill the holes then take the mounting plates and screws, and screw them to the posts. Sit the railing bracket bases on the mounting plates, then insert the plastic plugs. These keep water out of the screw holes. These plates will hold the top end of the railings.

Step 5 - Assemble Angle Brackets

Cut the stair rails to length based on your stair measurements. Make sure to cut the ends straight. Attach the angle brackets to the cut ends of the rail section. Put together the angle brackets and lower them slightly until the railing bracket bases sit neatly in them.

Step 6 - Assemble Whole Rail

Place the pins through the angle brackets, into the bracket bases. Screw the screw fasteners into the rail beside the angle brackets, and lock the entire assembly into position. Repeat for the other side. Place the caps on top of the stair newel posts.

Step 7 - Fill the Holes

Making sure the whole stair railing is complete and looking fine, ensure the holes are only half full with dirt. Fill the holes with concrete mix straight from the bag, and then pour half a bucket of water onto it. The concrete mix will absorb the water and set within 10 minutes. Make sure the posts are vertical.

Level the top of the concrete with the soil and leave to set.