It can be dangerous and an eyesore when your metal balustrade loses part of the rail or a chunk of it breaks away. The sheared metal can cause injury as they are designed to grab for stability or prevention of a fall, and structurally they can become unstable and a hazard for falls or cuts. (This is Part 1 of 2. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)
Cut out the Old Railing
Look at the section of your metal balustrade you will be replacing and take the proper measurements for the distance that you're going to need to replace. If the rail is suspended on metal poles, you can simply cut off the old rail with a saws-all and clean up the cut with your metal grinder. In some cases, the rail may be attached to the stairwell or walkway with a series of bolts. Simply use your wrench and disconnect these before cutting the rail from the poles.
Prepare the New Rail for Mounting
Once the old metal balustrade has been removed, use it as a template to drill the bottom rail securing holes if yours uses them. The diameter of the holes, as well as the distance between them, need to be exact, as you will not be able to move them to make it fit. Once the holes are cut, position your rail and then use the rubber mallet to tap it into place over the securing bolts, do not tighten it down with the bolts yet.
For those that don't have the securing bolts on their version of the metal balustrade, would simply clean up the ends of the rail that are going to be attached to the stabilizer poles. Once the ends have been cleaned to allow for the best contact, put the rail in place using your c-clamps to keep it from moving.
Welding the Ends into Place
The last step to your metal balustrade replacement is to simply spot weld the ends into place. Once it is being held by the welds, you can take more time and put a fancier weld mark on the seem. Flat welds seem to work the best, and you will want to make sure that you seal both the top and bottom of the seem to ensure it does not come loose over time from usage. This will provide a solid form that can take the most pressure and weight without it coming apart and causing injury.
Clean up the Weld Joints
In the spots where you welded your new metal balustrade into position, go back over it, using your metal grinder to even out any spurs from potentially cutting someone. Be sure that all the welds are smooth and clean from anything that will cut the hands or catch clothing as someone passes by. and you won't have any issues with people getting hurt. You also want to be sure that there are not any open ends on the rail where it is secured to the posts, as this can also cause a hazard from fingers getting caught or clothing snagging as someone passes by.