How To Build Stair Railing Interior

Installing A New Stair Rail – DIY Railing Installation Guide

Written by Matthew Weber Installing a stair railing may be a difficult project to do well. Because you’re working with exact angles rather than square cuts, this endeavor is more involved than tread or riser repair. In order for the rail system to be stable, it must be supported by newels that are firmly secured to the frame of the floor or wall structure. In addition, the rail must comply to exacting code rules designed to safeguard the safety of all who use it. If you want to attempt this job on your own, I cannot emphasize enough the need of meticulously planning every part of the project before placing your order for supplies.

Smith Stair Systems that provided the cherry stair rail used in this project, and they also provided thorough step-by-step instructions on how to install the components.

Check with your stair parts provider to see if there are any specific tools or accessories that will help the process run more smoothly.

Smith’s IronPro technology to make the installation of the stair balusters much easier than it would have been otherwise.

  • The technology decreases the chance of error and installs considerably more quickly than traditional installation techniques; it is highly recommended for those who like to do it themselves.
  • At least 34 inches is the minimum height requirement for a stair rail in the town where I reside.
  • The balusters must be no more than 4 inches apart from one another.
  • And, of course, fashion is a key consideration.
  • Whether your balusters will rest on open treads or mount to a kneewall is up to you.
  • Simple box patterns to bigger ornamental pieces with ornate trim may be seen on newels of all sizes and shapes.
  • Stair rail construction is a hard undertaking, and the best way to prepare for it is slowly and meticulously, paying close attention to every site-specific factor that can have an impact on how it is installed.

Smith’s in-depth installation manual, this essay will concentrate on how we implemented those directions to our unique installation project.

Remove the Outdated Railing The first step in replacing a handrail is to remove the existing system, which we did when we rebuilt the treads earlier this year.

We were able to take the handrail from the stair while the balusters remained attached to the stair’s underside, allowing us to remove them all at once.

As a further step, the old newels were pulled out by prying the trim boards away from the 4x4s and cutting them flush with the floor.

Determine the location of the newel.

(If the stair is a kneewall stair, the balustrade should be centered on the kneewall as well.

Building rules specify particular requirements for stair construction, such as the height of the rails and the spacing between balusters.

It was necessary to carve notches in the post base because of the placement of newels.

The landing newel links to a guardrail at the top of the staircase, which culminates at a half-newel that is fixed to the wall at the top of the staircase.

Installation of a newel However, while the original newel positions worked perfectly for our stair design, they did need notching the newel bases in order for them to fit over the treads, which created an additional obstacle during the installation process.

Take accurate measurements and plan for any potential difficulties that may arise during your own installation.

The blocking should be fastened to the floor with screws and construction glue, and the adhesive should be applied to all points of contact with the newel.

Smith are made of 1x solid cherry and have a hollow core that fastens over a wooden mounting block.

We dry-fitted the newel, measured carefully, made any required modifications, and then used painter’s tape to mark all of the critical rail-connection positions on the newel before securing it in place.

Using a couple of countersunk lag screws, attach the newel to the blocking and secure it in place.

Dry-fitting both the beginning newel and the landing newel at the same time is necessary to guarantee that the handrail mounts against each newel at the same elevation as it does from the steps.

Solid blocking should be used to fill any empty gaps at the newel base, and it should be nailed or glued in place.

Using two 1/2-in.

Finish nails should be driven through the sides of the newel and into the blocks to create a belt and suspenders look.

Ensure that the newels are aligned such that the rail joins at the center of each post.

A half-baluster square back from the face of the riser should be used to position the first baluster of each tread on the stairway.

Suppose the run is 10 inches and the greatest spacing needed by code is 4 inches; 10 divided by 4 = 2-1/2 spaces per tread, which is the minimum necessary.

As a result, three balusters are required for each tread.

run split by three balusters = 3.333 in.

It is OK for the balusters to be positioned closer than 4 inches apart, but they must not be spaced farther apart.

Because the trim around the bases of our newel posts made them 1-1/2 in.

If you forget about this disparity, a baluster that is supposed to be 4 inches away from the bottom of a newel can really be 4-3/4 inches away from the top of a newel, which would be a violation of the code.


has created an illustration for you.

In order to calculate the correct center-to-center baluster spacing for the whole run, we utilized the calculations described above.

Afterwards, we focused our attention on the handrail, with the intention of returning to the balusters later.

The board was cut along the miters so that it could be used as a template for the rail installation.

(If the newels have any trim connected to them, check that the rail will not interfere with the trim at either post before installing it.) Ensure that any required modifications are made to the angles and elevation of the rails, and that the final position provides a consistent rail height over all of the treads before proceeding.

  1. The miter angles of the rail were determined by clamping the ends of a 12″ board to the newels and placing it over the treads and newels.
  2. Once you’re pleased with the angles and placement of the 12 template, transfer the dimensions to the handrail and cut the pieces out using a miter saw to complete the project.
  3. After cutting the board to serve as a template for the rail, we positioned it flat between the posts and made any last changes needed to get it to fit perfectly.
  4. The rails are attached to the newels by drilling an access hole in the newel and inserting a lag screw through the hole.
  5. To tighten the lag screw, use a socket with an extension to reach it.
  6. The screw that connects the rails threads into a pilot hole that has been drilled into the end of the rail.
  7. The lag screws that connect the rail are driven from the inside of the newel post, which is a unique feature.

In the absence of discovering that the lag screw was too long, the handrail would have been punctured through the top of the handrail.

Pro Tip: Before driving screws into the mounting hardware, always carefully verify the clearances between the hardware and the wall.

If I had continued to drive them in without realizing what I was doing, I would have blasted the screw tip out of the top of the railing.

To tighten down the rail-connection screw, use a socket wrench with an extension.

Tip for the Day: Lasers may make life a lot simpler.

It was possible to see where the balusters should come up with the railing since the plumb laser line was extended up to the underside of the handrail.

DIYers, take note: when it comes to plumbing the balusters along a sloping handrail, L.J.

It is equipped with a bubble level, a rule, and a 1/25/8-in.

To use the tool, insert the bottom pin of the tool into the specified baluster point on the tread.

Pull the spring-loaded head down and release it once you are satisfied with the placement.

As an easy way to mark placement and ensure plumb, repeat the process for each baluster.

Smith makes it simple to mark the baluster locations beneath the stair rail with a single hand.

Earlier, I indicated that I “cheated” when it came to installing the balusters by employing L.J.

It is possible to install iron balusters in the IronPro system by screwing on adjustable, pivoting collars at the top and bottom of baluster sites to house the iron balusters.

To install the IronPro System, begin by screwing the threaded discs into each bottom baluster position on either side of the structure.

After you’ve cut the baluster to the proper length, slip the base collar over the baluster shaft and put the top tip of the baluster into the ball adapter to secure it.

Installing the baluster is as simple as tightening a couple of set screws.

Smith to attach the guard rail to the half newel, which worked well.

To install the IronPro System, first screw the threaded metal discs into place at each baluster site with a screwdriver.

Using a chop saw, cut the metal baluster to the desired length.

Slightly incline the baluster so that it rests on the mounting plate, then slip the base collar down over the threaded disc and screw it securely in place.

Repeat the process for all balusters.

That is the gist of this stair railing construction project.

Smith’s Flush Mount Hardware to attach the guardrail at the top landing against the half newel, which allowed us to keep the fastener hidden from view.

We also installed a secondary rail along the lower stair flight, which was mounted to the wall with wall-mount brackets.

Following the installation of the rail system, you should anticipate a significant amount of touch-up work, such as the addition of wood plugs, the filling of nail holes with putty, the caulking of joints, and so on.

Once you show off your new stair rail installation to friends and neighbors, all of the effort, time, and attention to detail will have been well worth the effort. Please see this website for more information on L.J. Smith Stair Systems.

Side Note

Safeguards are in place. I have three small children, and by removing the railing from the top stair landing during this renovation, I created a significant safety threat for them. My answer was to build a simple wood fence that would shut off the whole landing while the construction was taking place. My materials included a sheet of luaun, as well as some waste 13-inch and 14-inch boards from a dismantled shipping pallet and a few other random items. Pan-head screws are used to secure all of the connections.

I used a hook-and-eye lock on the other end of the gate and installed it low enough on the stair side that my two youngest children couldn’t reach it.

Install a New Stair Handrail

Time A busy day of work Complexity IntermediateCost$51–100


If you have a loose stair rail, a weak stair rail, or no stair rail at all, you may address the problem by installing a properly secured railing, such as the one we demonstrate here. Would your stair rail be able to withstand three boisterous children hanging from it in this manner? When in doubt, or if you have stairwells that are lacking rails, now is the time to address the issue. A robust stair rail helps to make stairs safer and easier to use than any other part of the house, and it may make a big difference in how safe and easy they are to use.

Tools Required

  • Sandpaper with 150-grit grit
  • 4d finish nails
  • 90-second epoxy
  • Masking tape (1-1/2-in. wide)
  • Railing brackets, railing material, wood adhesive

Measure the stair and purchase the stair railing

The style we picked to replace the stair rails just slightly surpasses the requirements of several local building standards. We extended the stair railing past the top and bottom steps on both sides of the staircase. While this isn’t always possible, it allows you to grip the stair railing sooner and hold onto the stair handrail for a longer period of time, which helps you keep your equilibrium. Before you go shopping for stair railings, take a measurement from the nosing of the top landing to the floor at the bottom of the steps and add 2 feet to that measurement.

Lumberyards and home shops have code-approved handrails as well as the other items you’ll need for your project.

Railings made of pine and poplar are less expensive.

Purchase enough brackets to place two at the top of the stair railing, one at the bottom of the stair railing, and one every 48 inches between the top and bottom of the stair railing.

Project step-by-step (17)

To begin the process of replacing stair railing, locate and mark studs.

The handrails for stairwells must be properly fastened to the wood frame under the drywall or plaster in order to be effective and safe. Here are a few pointers on how to locate the studs:

  • Begin by looking at the skirt board to see if you can spot a pattern of nails that might suggest the presence of studs. After that, use a stud finder to double-check the locations. The majority of studs are 16 inches apart, so once you’ve located one, you may attempt measuring horizontally to find the next
  • As soon as you come across a stud, mark it with a piece of masking tape. However, easy-to-remove (low tack) masking tape would be a preferable alternative in order to prevent harming the paint or wallpaper
  • We used blue tape for photo clarity. Identify each stud along the stairwell, as well as the studs beyond the top and bottom risers. Later on, you’ll determine which ones to employ. Studs aren’t always at the exact location you want them to be
  • If there isn’t a stud accessible at the top, use metal toggle anchors to secure the bracket to the rail under the short horizontal piece of the railing. Unless the wall ends up close to the top or bottom step, you won’t have enough room to add a second railing. Instead, just restore it to its original position on the wall.

You must also draw markings at the top and bottom of the stairway to indicate the typical railing height of the railing that will be installed above the steps in addition to finding the studs. The stair railing should be installed such that the top of the handrail is 34 to 38 inches above the front edge of the stair nosings in order to comply with building code standards. We settled on 36 inches. Step 3 (below) demonstrates how to determine the height of the wall-mounted handrail at the top of the stairwell.

Take a look at these 13 home renovation blunders that will make you cringe.


Locate the studs

Determine the location of the studs in the wall above the stairwell. Make use of a stud finder to locate the studs and mark the positions with strips of 1-1/2-inch masking tape that are positioned approximately 36 inches above the stairwell.

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Complete your do-it-yourself tasks like an expert! Become a subscriber to our newsletter! Do It Right the First Time, and Do It Yourself! Step number three.

Plumb up from the front edge

Lift your feet up from the front edge of the top stair nosing and attach a piece of tape to the wall above. Draw a vertical line parallel to the front of the nosing and a horizontal line at 36 inches from the front of the nose. Repeat the process at the bottom tread. Later on, you’ll match the top of the rail with the handrail height markers and find the rail brackets, which you’ll need to do to complete the installation. Then, before attaching the rail to the brackets, you’ll use the mark at the top to determine where the rail should be placed.

Cut the rail to length and fit the joint

The next step is to cut the stair railing and glue it to the top of the stairwell, where there is a short horizontal part. Fortunately, because the rail runs parallel to the stair noses, you can use the stair noses as a guide for measuring the rail’s length and determining its top angle. Step number five.

Cut a 45-degree miter

Begin by cutting a 45-degree angle into one end of the stair railing and resting it on the floor to use as a starting point. This cut is intended for the brief return to the wall’s surface. Step 6: Organize your thoughts and feelings about the situation.

Close-Up: Cut a 45-degree miter

Mark the point at which the rail meets the top stair nosing when the rail is lying on the front of the stair treads. Step 7 – Organize your time and resources.

Power miter saw

To cut a 16-degree angle, set your power miter saw to its lowest setting and cut along the rail at the mark. Cut the last rail section at a 16-degree angle in the opposite direction of the first. It should be used for the top portion of the horizontal top segment. This is a rough estimate of the angle. You’ll put it through its paces to see how it fits. In this eighth step, you will learn how to use a comma to separate the words “and” and “and not.”

Test the fit

Check the fit of the rail junction to make sure it is snug. Make minor adjustments to the cutting angle and recut both parts until the junction is snug. Don’t be concerned if you lose a few inches of length on the rail. It will just shorten the distance the rail extends at the bottom, which is not a significant factor. When you’re pleased with the fit, cut the short horizontal stair railing portion to length, making a 45-degree miter at the end of the railing section.

Allow for an extension of a few inches past the next stud so that you may install an under-rail handrail bracket on the wall behind the joist. 9th step:

Glue the joint with epoxy

It is difficult to link the small and long stair railing components together with nails or screws because of the shallow angle. Furthermore, dowels or other connecting methods necessitate the accuracy of a furniture manufacturer. Instead, we’ll demonstrate a straightforward approach for joining the two pieces together using fast-setting epoxy. Cut 2x4s on the edge at the same angle as the rail and attach them together using screws that are driven at an angle to the rail. Supporting the rail parts with the 2x4s will help you push and keep the junction together as you go along.

  1. Concentrate on keeping the profiles perfectly aligned and pushing the rails together tightly to ensure that there are no gaps between them.
  2. It would be preferable to leave it overnight because the epoxy will not reach its optimum strength for at least 24 hours.
  3. Using a sharp utility knife, trim any extra tape flush with the cut end of the tape.
  4. It is likely that the completed joint will require sanding to make the edges more uniform.
  5. Step number ten.

Align the top of the stair guardrail

Align the top of the handrail with the 36-inch-high lines on the tape (as seen in the close-up photo below), then mark the handrail height along the bottom of the rail at each stud site. Step 11: Organize your information.

Close-Up: Align the top of the stair guardrail

Match the railing to the joint mark on the wall and pay particular attention to the height of the handrail. (See illustration.) ‘Step 12’ is the final step in the process.

Center the rail bracket

Vertically center the stair railing bracket on the stud and sight across the top to check that it is aligned with the mark to guarantee that the handrail height is maintained. Then make a mark on each of the three screw holes. This should be done at the studs that are closest to the top and bottom of the rail. Step number thirteen.

Locate the center of the stud

Find the precise center of the studs and mark it with a pencil. A finish nail should be used to probe the wall in order to determine the precise center of the stud. Tap softly to get a sense of whether the nail is hitting solid wood or whether it is missing the stud and going in easily. If required, move the bracket to the middle of the stud until there is solid wood behind both top holes and the right handrail height is maintained. This is a critical step because the rail brackets must be centered on the stud or else one of the two top screws will miss the frame and the rail will not function properly.

If you move the bracket, make sure to adjust the height of the handrail so that the top of the bracket remains aligned with the mark. Having a bracket come free is far worse than having to patch up a few nail holes in the process. Step 14: Organize your thoughts and feelings.

Drill pilot holes

Drill pilot holes for the rail bracket screws that are 1/8-inch in diameter. You should be able to feel the bit when it drills into solid wood. Angle the holes slightly toward the center to ensure that the screw catches the stud and to ensure that the handrail at the right height. 15th step:

Screw the bracket to the wall

Remove the masking tape and screw the bracket to the wall using a Phillips screwdriver. Angle the top screws slightly to the left or right in order to follow the angled pilot holes. Always use caution when driving the screws that come supplied with the brackets. If you don’t predrill pilot holes in the heads, they will break off very easily. In order to keep the drill bit from being damaged by the screws, use a magnetic bit holder to keep it from being damaged by the screws. This will provide you with extra room to work with while driving the angled screws.

Attach the rail to the brackets

Install the top and bottom brackets first, and then attach the rail to them using the screws provided. Attach the rail to the brackets using the screws and straps that are included in the package. After that, insert the bracket beneath the short horizontal part. Finally, sight down the stair railing and straighten it before attaching the intermediate brackets to the stairwell. Step 17: Organize your information.

Add the returns and finish up

The small parts that return to the wall at the top and bottom of the stair railing are straightforward to measure for and install once the stair railing has been fastened to the wall. When measuring from the long point of the 45-degree miter on the rail to the wall, make an allowance of approximately 1/16 inch for a snug fit. After that, use your power miter saw to cut the returns. To prevent having your fingers too close to the blade, cut them from larger portions (at least 12 in.) before assembling.

  1. They prevent the danger that a piece of loose clothes or a handbag strap may become entangled and cause a slip and fall.
  2. We used wood glue and 4d finish nails to connect the returns, but you could also use the remaining 90-second epoxy if you have any left over.
  3. Nail sets can be used to recess the nails.
  4. Because the screw holes have already been bored, it will be simple to replace the unit.

How to Build and Install a Custom DIY Stair Railing

This guide will show you how to design and install custom DIY stair railing for your home if you have an outdated staircase railing that needs to be rebuilt or renovated. Your stair arrangement may change from the one shown in this guide depending on the kind and size of your home, but the basic principle of making a stair railing would remain the same regardless of the differences. You may simply adapt these designs to meet your specific requirements and stair structure. Installing stair rails for a two-story house will be the subject of this lesson, which will cover the process step by step.

You might also be interested in some of my other living room projects, such asDIY Plantation Shutters andReclaimed Wood Frame Sign, which I recently completed.

The measurements are in imperial rather than metric units.

Creating a Custom Stair Railing Please keep in mind that the dimensions of the lumber are provided as nominal size.

See timber sizes for the difference between real and nominal dimensions. Please be advised that some of the links on this page, along with hyperlinks in the sections under “tools for this project” and “material list,” are affiliate links.


When it comes to planning and creating the stair rails, the first step is determining where the posts will be placed. In order to hold the weight of the rail panels, the posts must be securely fastened to the stairwell or the wall. I’m utilizing 4×4 poplar wood posts for this project, which are generally used for stair construction. The actual width and depth of the 44 post are 3 1/4′′ and 3 1/4′′, respectively. If you were to use standard 44 pine construction timber, which measures 3 1/2′′ x 3 1/2′′, the results would be different.

Then cut one section to 42 inches in length and another piece to 52 inches in length.

Half-cut posts will be utilized at the rail section that connects to the wall, such as this one.

The Kreg Jig must be configured to accept pocket hole screws measuring 2 12 inches in diameter.

Step 2 – Measure and Cut Base Moulding for the Posts

Each post’s bottom end will have a base moulding around it to make it seem more attractive while also concealing the pocket holes in the wood. This type of molding board is often constructed of MDF boards, much like crown mouldings and baseboards are made of MDF boards. You could purchase these boards already painted in white if you so desired. Cut the base moulding pieces from 14 and 16-inch MDF boards according to the cut list instructions. These moulding boards will be connected to the post at a later time, once everything has been painted.

Step 3 – Cut Handrails and Base Rails for Horizontal Section

Two-four redwood, torn to two-and-a-half-inch widths, used as the foundation rails and railings for the deck. The 2×4 was too broad for the railings on its own, thus cutting it to 2 12″ in width made a significant difference in appearance. For the upper handrails of the horizontal portion, cut two pieces of 2/4 redwood to 56 3/4′′ in length and one piece to 36 1/4′′ in length from a single piece of 2/4 redwood. Once this is done, tear the boards down to 2 1/2′′ in width with a table saw. Because of the base moulding surrounding the posts, the base rails will be somewhat shorter than normal.

This will give you a total of three parts.

In order to link the balusters to this board, it will be put at the top of the rail panel, which will be 14 inches thick.

The handrail will next be installed over this 14-inch board and affixed to the bottom of the board. Drill pocket holes at the ends of each base rail and each handrail with a Kreg Jig to hold the rails in place. The Kreg Jig should be configured to create pocket holes that are 2 1/2 inches deep.

Step 4 – Measure and Cut Handrails for the Sloping Section

The sloping segment of the rail must be cut at an angle on both ends in order to be functional. It is possible that this angle will change based on the slope of your steps, but for this project, the angle will be 42°. Step 3: Take 24 redwood and cut the base rail to 104 1/8′′ in length with a 42 degree miter cut on both ends, similar to step 3. Following that, using a 42-degree cut, cut the handrail and 1/4-inch-thick board to 106 1/8-inches in length. Then, tear each of these 24 boards down to 2 1/2′′ wide and drill pocket holes at both ends of the handrail to hold it together.

Step 5 – Cut Balusters for the Horizontal Section

Making all of the balusters precisely the same length is critical when cutting them out of wood. In order to verify that the lengths are exact, use a stop block on your miter saw. 12 poplar wood planks should be cut into 39 baluster pieces that are 29 3/4 inches in length. These components will be utilized to create the horizontal part of the stair railings, as shown in the illustration.

Step 6 – Cut Balusters for the Sloped Section

In a similar vein to step 5, the balusters for the slopped part must be precisely measured, thus a stop block on your miter saw will be necessary. The balusters on both ends of the sloping part of the stairs must be cut at a 42-degree angle in order to accommodate the slope. Make use of the same 12 poplar boards and cut 22 balusters that are 30 1/2 inches in length from them.

Step 7 – Make Spacer Jig for Attaching Balusters

In order to ensure that balusters are absolutely straight and have the same space between them, you should connect them to the upper and lower rails in the following ways: Having the balusters evenly placed throughout the project gives the project a polished appearance. To do this, you’ll need to create spacers that can be placed between balusters to guarantee that they are all the same distance apart. Because some balusters are spaced 2″ apart and others are spaced 4″ apart, you’ll need two spacers for the horizontal pieces and two spacers for the sloping sections, totaling four spacers.

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Then, using a jig saw, cut a notch in both pieces that is 34″ x 1 1/12″ in size.

These spacers will be utilized to support the horizontal segment of the rails in the horizontal direction.

The 3″ x 1 12″ notches are not necessary for these spacers, however you can add them if desired to make the project more straightforward.

Step 8 – Round the Corners of Bottom and Top Rails

Because the bottom and handrails were shredded to a smaller width, the sharp edges on the ripped side will be more prominent than the rounded corners on the non-ripped side.

Take a wood router and run it through the sharp corners with a round-over router bit to ensure that they are all the same size. All of the corners will be rounded as a result of this.

Step 9 – Attach Balusters to the Bottom Rail of the Horizontal Section

Locate the middle of the bottom rail and draw a small pencil mark on the rail with your finger. In this area will be the first baluster of the staircase. Apply wood glue to the bottom end of the baluster, then position it at the center mark and nail it in place using a 2″ brad nail to secure it in place. Place a 2″ spacer against the first baluster that was placed, then put the second baluster into the notch and secure it with brad nails to complete the installation. Repeat the technique for the remaining balusters, this time utilizing spacers between the balusters.

After that, there will be a 4″ gap between the following three pairs of numbers.

Step 10 – Glue and Attach ¼” Thick Wood Strip on Top of Balusters

The primary function of the 14-inch-thick wood strip at the top of the rail is to conceal the nail heads on the rail. You will need to attach the balusters directly to the handrail with nails from the top if you do not have this component; however, this will expose the nails on the balusters and on the handrail. This may be remedied by covering the nails with wood filler, but this would be time-consuming and might still leave a small nail mark. For this reason, before you nail or screw in the top handrail to the balusters, you’ll need to first connect a 14″ thick wooden strip.

The process of attaching the 14-inch-thick wood strip is essentially similar to that of attaching the bottom rail.

To ensure that the balusters are straight, use the same spacers that you used to install them.

Step 11 – Assemble the Sloped Rail Section

The process of attaching the sloping rail segment is quite similar to the process of attaching the horizontal rail section. Find and indicate the middle of the bottom rail as a starting point. Then, instead of putting a baluster in the middle (like we did in the horizontal portion), we’ll use a 5 1/4 spacer that’s centered on the mark to complete the installation. After that, connect the balusters to the spacers on either side of the spacer. Continue to attach the remaining pieces over the bottom rail in the same manner.

Step 12 – Paint all the Pieces

It’s time to paint now that you’ve finished cutting all of the components and putting together the rail panels. Make use of a paint sprayer to ensure that the paint is evenly coated. It is possible that you may need to spray numerous coats to achieve the desired effect.

Step 13 – Install Half-Post to the Wall

It’s time to put the rails in place. Starting with the wall, secure the half-post to the wall with 4′′ wood screws, working your way outward. Unless the 4″ screw is anchored to a wall stud, the rail will grow loose over time and will need to be replaced. Check to see that the post is leveled before proceeding. Install two screws at the bottom of the post below the 18-inch line, as the base moulding is 18 inches tall and will hide the screws if they are not hidden.

Then screw in the third screw, which should be 35 inches from the bottom. During the installation of the stair rail, this screw will be hidden beneath the handrail. We aim to conceal the screws or nails to the greatest extent feasible.

Step 14 – Wrap and Nail the Base Moulding Around the Post

Having successfully fastened the first post to the wall, fasten the base moulding to the bottom of the post with 1 1/4-inch brad nails to complete the installation. Take a look at the illustration.

Step 15 – Secure Rail Panel to the Post

Take the first horizontal panel and secure it to the post with 2 1/2′′ pocket hole screws at the bottom rail. Repeat this process with the second horizontal panel. The rail panels must be fastened to the posts at a distance of 3 inches from the bottom of the post. If you want to make installation easier, you might use 3′′ tall blocks to put the panel on. Using 1′′ brad nails, connect a handrail to the top of the 1/4-inch-thick wood frame. To attach the handrail to the post, drill two pocket holes in it with a 2 1/2′′ pocket hole screw.

Step 16 – Install the Remaining Posts and Rail Panels

Take the next 38-inch post and connect base moulding pieces to the two sides that do not have pocket holes on the other two sides. Insert 2 1/2′′ pocket hole screws into this post, which will be placed against the first panel and attached to the pony wall. Then, using a pocket hole drill, drill pocket holes into the top and bottom rails of the panel to fasten it to the post. Base moulding can be used to conceal the post pocket openings. Install the second set of rail panels and posts in the same manner as you did the first.

Step 17 – Cover up the Pocket Hole

In order to conceal the pocket holes in the handrails and bottom rails, take a 3/8-inch wooden dowel rod and cut it into little parts of approximately 2 inches in length. Then hammer the dowel piece into the pocket hole until it is securely in place. Remove the remainder of the dowel that is protruding from the hole with a dovetail saw. Finish sanding the rod to make it flush with the rail. Then paint over the wood with a brush to ensure that it is well covered. You have completed the unique DIY Stair Railing project.

How to Install a Stairway Handrail

It is normally required, according to the construction code, that all stairways with more than two risers be fitted with a grippable handrail, which users may grasp onto while they climb or descend the staircase. Stair railing requirements vary from community to community, however most municipal laws for stair railings are based on the IRC (International Residential Code). Other groups maintain their own standards, which are typically relatively comparable to the IRC’s in terms of content and format.

  • Handrails must have a minimum clearance of 2 1/4 inches between them and any other items in their path. According to the International Normal, the standard height of handrails ranges between 34 and 38 inches measured vertically from the noses of stair treads. Handrails must be designed in such a way that users can grasp them securely when using them. In order for the handrail to be effective when integrated into the top railing of a guard rail system, it must be shaped in such a way that it can be gripped. The handrail’s ends are not permitted to have any protrusion that might cause a hazard. In order to be effective, the handrail must be capable of withstanding 200 pounds of force exerted in either a downward or outward direction within 2 inches of its top edge.

A simple solution for meeting the railing requirement is to use a prefabricated handrail bar that has been cut to the appropriate length and is securely fastened to the wall studs or guardrail newel posts using solid brackets. A handrail of this type can be placed quickly and inexpensively, and it is an excellent method to ensure that basement stairs or deck steps comply with building code regulations.

Guardrail vs. Handrail

The installation of a protective guardrail system on open stairways is required by code. This system is typically comprised of vertical posts and balusters topped by an angled rail. However, this rail does not necessarily qualify as a handrail unless it is placed 36 to 37 inches above the nose of the stair treads and is shaped in a way that provides for a solid hand hold on the rail.

In order to comply with code requirements, it is quite typical for a secondary handrail to be installed inside the guardrail system to be installed.

Before You Begin

From simple dowel-like pine rods to sophisticated milled oak handrails built to complement the style of millwork guardrails, there is a kind of handrail for every need and budget. In spite of the fact that installation appears straightforward (the railing must be between 34 and 38 inches above the nose of the stairs treads), it might be more challenging than you might expect. In order for the handrail to be properly secured, it must be fastened to studs or robust posts that do not always line up with the nose of the treads on the stairs.


  • Two and a half-inch stainless steel wood screws
  • A premilled handrail
  • Three handrail brackets

Locate and Mark Studs

  • To identify the studs at the handrail bracket positions, use a stud finder to locate the studs. Most of the time, railing brackets should be fitted such that the handrail is firmly fixed at intervals of no more than 4 feet away from one another. Each bracket should be approximately 1 foot apart from the top and bottom of the railing, with at least one in the center. The greater the number of brackets you use, the more stable the railing will be. Utilizing a level, write vertical reference lines on the wall showing the center of each stud after determining the placement of the studs that will serve as the handrail’s anchors In the event that you don’t want to mark the wall with a pencil, you can use painter’s tape to indicate the stud. It is possible that you will be mounting the brackets to newel posts rather than to wall studs while working with open stairways that are enclosed with balusters.

Cut Handrail to Length

  • Measure the length of the railing and cut it to the required length. It is customary for a handrail to extend slightly beyond the top and bottom steps by a distance equivalent to the width of a stair tread in order to provide more gripping surface. If you choose, you may miter-cut the ends of the handrail so that the cut ends create a vertical edge that is perpendicular to the floor
  • However, this is not necessary.

Mark Handrail Height

  • Mark the wall using a level and a tape measure 36 inches above the nose of the stair treads, at the top, bottom, and center of the railing placement, and then remove the level and tape measure. It will be possible to determine the placement of the top edge of the railing by using these reference markings. It is critical that you take these vertical measures from the precise nose of the stair treads in order to get the right height. It is possible to make minor adjustments to the height of the railing if desired
  • However, keep in mind that the code-mandated height should be between 34 and 38 inches.

Mark Locations for Brackets

  • Position the handrail against the wall with the assistance of one or more volunteers so that the top edge of the handrail is flush with the reference markings you just made. Make reference markings at the bottom of the handrail, at the place where the handrail crosses the lines identifying the studs, to serve as a point of reference later on. The position of these markings indicates where the tops of the support brackets are located.

Attach Handrail Brackets to Wall

  • Position and attach the handrail brackets to the wall in the locations marked on the stud lines by the reference marks you produced earlier. The tops of the brackets should be flush with the edge of the handrail’s bottom edge when installed properly. Lee Wallender is a writer and musician from the United Kingdom. Lee Wallender is a writer and a poet.

Attach Handrail to Brackets

  1. The handrail should be placed such that it is supported by the brackets, with the appropriate overhang at both the top and bottom. The U-shaped sleeves that go around the arms of the support brackets are used to attach the handrail to the brackets. Using a screwgun, drive the screws into the wood firmly. (When working with a hardwood railing, it’s advisable to drill pilot holes first before driving the screws.)

Lee Wallender is a writer and musician from the United Kingdom. The Spruce relies solely on high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed research, to substantiate the information contained in our articles. Read about oureditorial process to discover more about how we fact-check our information and ensure that it is accurate, dependable, and trustworthy.

How to Build a Handrail

Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation Stairways are focal points in the house, serving both a functional and an aesthetic purpose. Making a handrail for your stairs is a simple and affordable method to update the design and feel of your home’s stairwells, whether they are indoors or out. Handrails that are both robust and appealing may add aesthetic value to a staircase while also ensuring that the staircase is safe to use.

  1. 1 Check with your local building authority to find out what building codes are in effect. Find out whether you need a permit for railing construction and if there are any standard standards for handrails in your region before you start building. It is essential to check that your home renovation projects are consistent with the codes that have been established for residential structures before proceeding.
  • Be sure to secure a building permit if your job necessitates it before you begin any type of home improvement. Inspections, potential penalties or infractions, and complications that may arise if you ever attempted to sell your house in the future are all avoided as a result of doing so
  • If you are not needed to seek a building permit, you may proceed with your construction project.

2 Take measurements for the rise and run of your stairs. The length of the rails should be measured diagonally from the top step of the steps to the bottom step of the staircase, starting at the top step. When installing a handrail on a wall, add an additional 2 to 4 inches to either end to serve as returns (also known as the ends) for people to grip onto while using the railing.

  • Using the average height of individuals as a guideline, measure the elevation of the railing in accordance with local building authority requirements
  • This is normally between 30-36 inches, or alternately at 36 inches, depending on where you live. The rise is measured at 36 inches from the same point on each step, and its location is marked with a pencil or chalk. Making use of a straight line on the wall, link the 36-inch markers that you set at the very top of the steps in decreasing order to the very bottom step using a tape measure. Measure the area where you wish to install brackets that will be screwed into the wall later on. Making use of a level to mark the bracket placements will help to ensure that the brackets are plumb.
See also:  How To Install Interior Balcony Railing

Advertisement number three Select the style of the railing. An indoor handrail will be placed to the wall above the stairwell if you are building one in your home.

  • Indoor railings are most usually made of wood, which is the most common material utilized. Oak is a highly robust and appealing material, especially when used for railings. In addition to metal, wood is a choice for an outdoor railing, although it is susceptible to decay in all but the most extreme regions. When using untreated wood within the home, it must be painted, treated with oil, stained, and then sealed with polyurethane. If you’re going to use oil to cure it, use tung oil, linseed oil, or a product that contains one of those oils. It is best to avoid water-based treatments since, while they may render wood water and moisture resistant, they may flake and deteriorate with time. Metal railings installed within the home are both attractive and durable. It is possible to customize synthetic railings to meet your specific design requirements, and they may even be made to seem like wood. When compared to other railing alternatives, this one is more costly, but it is also more robust.

4 A handrail can be found from a builders supply store, a home center, or a local hardware store. There are often just two types of wood available for mounting on an interior wall: broad, unfinished oak and primed pine. Wide, unprocessed oak is typically more expensive than primed pine. It is necessary to stain the oak. Basement stairs are often constructed of the thinner pine railing material. Both varieties are often offered in lengths of 6 ft., 8 ft., 10 ft., and other similar measurements (or lengths of 2m, 2.5m, 3m, etc).

  • Bringing home wood samples from your local hardware shop will allow you to match them to the wood fixtures in your home, which will save you time and money when building a wood railing.
  1. 1st, gather your materials. In addition to the railing, you will require one bracket to be installed at each wall stud, unless the handrail will be fixed on a brick wall in which case two brackets will be required (very old homes may have solid brick exterior walls). If you have a really lengthy railing, you may want to restrict the number of brackets to four. The screws should be included with the brackets in a convenient container. Drilling pilot holes for the screws will need the use of a power drill. If you have a miter saw, you may use it to produce clean cuts. If not, a handsaw or a circular saw can be used.
  • The handrail for a wall-mounted installation should be 8 inches (20 cm) longer than your specifications if you want to mount returns since you will be cutting off 4 inches (10 cm) on either end of the railing. If the brackets were not included with the railing, you will need to purchase them separately. In most cases, they are only available in two sizes: large and small. Each size is available in a variety of hues, including black, gold, and white

2 Remove the railing’s ends by cutting them off. If you are not planning on using returns, cut the railing at an angle so that the cut surfaces are vertical. If you’re using a hand saw, this could be too difficult. The actual length will depend on where the brackets are placed; however, the railings should reach at least 4″ (10 cm) from each bracket and no more than around 10″ from each bracket (25 cm).

Once the handrail has been completed, the returns may be attached to each end of the railing to function as hand grips.

  • Reverse the arrangement of the cuts so that the components at the top and bottom of the rail will be able to face the wall when assembled

3 Attach the brackets to the wall. Make use of a stud finder to locate the precise boundaries of the wall studs to which you will be mounting your furniture. Drill pilot holes for the screws first, then insert the screws. Install all three screws into the wall stud; one of the screws will need to be put in at a small angle to ensure proper alignment. Brackets should be mounted at the top and bottom, and a rail should be placed on them to identify the precise placements of the remaining brackets.

Before drilling the brackets into the wall, check to see that they are vertically plumb on the wall.

  • It’s critical to ensure that the brackets are properly placed before proceeding. If they appear to be loose in the wall, it is possible that the handrail is not strong enough to sustain the weight of those who use it. It may be necessary to acquire additional brackets in order to guarantee that the railing is secured securely in place.

4 Place the railing on top of the brackets and secure with screws. Continue to hold the railing in place against the wall for the whole length of the chalk line. Screw the handrail into its position on the brackets by inserting screws into the holes in the railing’s bottom that were previously drilled.

  • Railings that are not securely fastened are a severe safety threat, therefore be certain that the railing can withstand the weight that will be forced on it on a regular basis. If the railing is sagging, place a metal corner bracket to the bottom of the railing to strengthen it.

5 Install the returns in their proper places. Place the angled edge of the return against the end of the rail. (See illustration.) The return’s flat end should rest against the wall, creating a hand grasp for holding the return. Before attaching the return to the rail, add wood glue to the cut edges and let it dry completely. To ensure that it is securely fastened, keep it in place for a couple of minutes. Repeat the process with the other return on the other end of the rail.

  • Hammer in 2-3 nails to link the returns to the rails to provide further reinforcement. It is possible that you may need to reduce the returns by an inch or two in order for them to fit securely against the wall.
  1. 1Prepare your deck or porch so that it may be built. Examine the overall condition of your foundation. If you need to make repairs to your floors, do it right away. When it comes to making sure the handrail remains in good condition for as long as possible after it has been installed, less work should be done after it has been installed. 2 Purchase the supplies you’ll need. Apart from the handrail you have chosen, you’ll need a variety of other supplies to construct a handrail using balusters rather than mounting one on a wall. Purchase twice as many materials as you need if you’re installing two handrails, one on either side of a pair of stairs.
  • The handrail should be a 2″x4″ (5 cm x 10 cm) board of cedar or pressure treated wood, with the top and bottom edges rounded. Both of these items are resistant to decay. Cedar may be painted with any sort of paint that you like. Unless otherwise specified, pressure treated wood may only be stained with solid stain and does not require painting. Purchase railing planks that are devoid of splinters and extremely straight
  • Purchase two newel posts that are 4″x4″ (10 cm x 10 cm) (posts). You must trim them yourself because they are generally offered in 8-foot lengths (2.5-meters) or longer. Purchase one baluster for each stair step in your home. Balustrade balusters are the spindles that link the rail to each step on the stairwell. It is recommended that the balusters have a height of between 30 and 36 inches, depending on how high you want your railing to be. You’ll need a post-hole digger and concrete mix to pour into the holes in order to ensure a stable installation of the newel posts. Purchase sure-tite fasteners to attach the balusters to the stair treads. A finish nail gun and a screwdigger may be required, depending on the kind of railing you install.

3 Attach the newel posts to the joists. It’s possible that your set of stairs already has newel posts at the top and bottom that you may utilize to support your new handrail if you’re replacing an old one. If not, you’ll need to install posts first before you can proceed with installing your railing system.

  • To set a post in the ground, start by digging a hole that is 18″ deep and around 9″ broad. You’ll need a post-hole digger, and if there are any rocks in the way, you’ll probably need a rock bar as well. Place the post in the hole and pour concrete into the hole almost to the top of the post. Nail one 1″ x 2″ strip from the top of the post to the stairs, and another at a right angle to a tiny tent post that you pound into the ground to hold it vertical while the concrete dries. Make sure the post is precisely vertical by using a big level. It is necessary to wait three days for the concrete to harden before adding the railing. When attaching a post to a wooden deck, attach the post to the stringer first. Two 3/8″ galvanized lag bolts with lock washers, or four Timber Lock screws, are recommended. Extra strength can be obtained by using construction adhesive.

4 Each stairway’s balusters should be installed at the right place on the stairway. Check to see that the balusters at each end of the stairwell are aligned with the newel posts on either side of the staircase.

  • Drill holes into each step and then thread the holes with sure-tite fasteners to secure the steps together. If your balusters don’t already have holes in them, you’ll have to drill holes in them yourself. Make a standard-sized access hole at the bottom of the balusters with a drill bit. Insert another access hole into the side of each baluster, drilling it horizontally so that it intersects with the first hole. On each step, secure each baluster or spindle to the sure-tite fasteners with a hex wrench. With a wrench, tighten them down even more.

5 Attach the handrail to the newel posts and balusters using the screws provided. Apply wood glue or epoxy glue to the tops of the posts to secure them in place. Install the handrail in its proper location. Prior to utilizing the handrail, allow it to dry for 24 hours before attaching it to the balusters using a finish nail gun, one baluster at a time.

  • Install three 3″ or 3 1/2″ deck screws into the ends of the railing to secure it to the posts. Attach the screws by screwing them in from the top and one from the side. Pilot holes should be drilled through the handrail to prevent it from cracking later on. Exterior caulk should be used to cover the screws. Fill up the cracks between the hand rails and the posts with caulk.

6 If you did not use pressure treated wood for your finished handrail, you need apply an external primer to it. Apply a second layer of primer when the first has dried completely.

  • If you decide to paint the handrail and railing, oil-based paint is recommended since it is more resistant to dirt and severe weather. In order to protect the appearance and feel of the wood, pick a wood stain that also contains a deck sealer, which is included in the price.

Create a new question

  • Question Is the height of the balusters consistent from the top to the bottom of the staircase? Here’s where the top answerer is located up north. It is correct that the balusters are the same height from top to bottom since the steps are also the same height from top to bottom in relation to the railing. As a result of the basic geometry of the situation, certain balusters will rest on the tread and will be somewhat longer on the rear of each tread than on the nose of each tread.

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  • Pre-measure the baluster lines, mark out where the newels will be located, and establish the height of the handrails before starting the project. Always remember to measure twice and cut once before cutting anything. Do not cut any of your parts until you have put everything out to see how it will all go together. Finishes are only required if the wood you buy was unfinished when it was acquired. Just be sure you treat it with stain and polyurethane prior to installation in order to ensure an uncomplicated and straightforward application process. Remove the pencil marks you made on the wall and railing that served as a guideline for your work. Apply oil to the railing once more, this time using the oil of your choice.

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Things You’ll Need

  • Largelevel
  • Hammer
  • Post-hole digger
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Chalk
  • Tape measure For each post, one 60-pound bag of concrete is required. Sandpaper, a nail gun, nails, wood glue, epoxy glue, 3″ or 3 1/2″ deck screws, and a drill. Rail bolt kit, which includes a nut and washer set for each rail as well as a nut and washer set for each rail
  • Brackets
  • Sure-tite fastening kit
  • Brackets and other accessories

About This Article

Summary of the ArticleX If you have a basic tool set and some previous experience doing house modifications, installing a railing should be pretty simple. Before you can determine how long your handrail should be, you’ll need to take measurements of your stairwell’s rise and run. A readymade handrail in wood, metal, or synthetic material may be purchased from a majority of home improvement retailers. For a handrail to be mounted on a wall, brackets will be required to keep it in place. There will be newel posts and balusters required to support the railing if there is no wall present.

You may also use paint or stain to give your furniture a more trendy appearance.

Continue reading for more information, including instructions on how to cut your handrail. Did you find this overview to be helpful? Thank you to all writers for contributing to this page, which has been read 88,133 times so far.

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