Stair railings prevent slips and falls in multilevel homes. Installed securely to the wall along the stairway, wooden railings provide a secure anchor for people who hold onto it when climbing up or down the stairs. Most building codes require that railings be installed 32 to 36 inches above the stair treads. Check with your local building authorities for the most suitable railing height and any permits you are required to obtain.
- Tape measure
- Wood railing
- Miter saw
- Stud finder
- 90-second epoxy
- Rail brackets and hardware
- Hand drill
- 4d nails
Extend the tape from the topmost stair nosing or edge to the lowermost stair nosing. Add 24 inches to the length and record it. Use a miter saw to cut wood to the required length. Form a 45-degree cut on one corner of the rail and a 90-degree cut on the other.
Lay the railing on the treads, with its mitered end resting on the floor at the bottom of the stairway. Mark the spot on the rail where it touches the topmost nosing. Form a 16-degree cut over the rail at this point, splitting it into a short piece and a long piece.
Cut one end of the short piece at 45 degrees and its other end at 16 degrees. The short piece will join railing to form a short horizontal section that people can grasp before descending the stairs.
Locate studs on the wall along the stairway using a stud finder. Mark the location of a wall stud with a pencil. Also locate and mark studs along the topmost and lowermost risers.
Measure 36 inches up from the uppermost stair nosing and mark the spot on the wall. This mark serves as a guideline for the railing’s height. Repeat the process at the bottom of the stairs. Also hold a level plumb against the topmost stair nosing and make a vertical line over the point on the wall at 36 inches. This is the point where the railing joint will rest.
Apply a thin layer of 90-second epoxy over the shallow edge of the long rail and short piece. Press and hold the joint for several minutes. Allow the epoxy to cure overnight.
Hold the rail against the wall, aligning it with its height marks. Extend the wall stud marks to the lower side of the railing with a pencil. Ensure that the railing joint rests directly above the pencil mark on the wall along the topmost nosing.
Hold a railing bracket upright on the topmost stud; mark its screw locations on the wall with a pencil. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes through the marks. Repeat the process along the bottom of the stairs and along every 48 inches.
Drive the screws provided with the brackets through the screw holes and the wall to secure them in place.
Place the railing on the brackets. Drill pilot holes through the screw holes at the base of the brackets and drive screws into these to secure the rail to the bracket.
Make end returns for the railing. Measure the space between the 45-degree end of the rail and the wall. Cut two pieces of wood to size and glue their mitered ends to the mitered ends of the railing. Reinforce the joints with 4d nails.
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