How to Install a Wood Spindle Deck Railing

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A wood railing around the deck not only adds a finished touch to the space but is an essential safety feature, especially for children. Although the type and style of a wooden deck railing depends on personal preference and your budget, a simple yet elegant design features two horizontal rails with upright spindles in between. As per the local building code requirements, keep the deck rail at least 3 feet tall and spindles 3 to 4 inches apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Chalk or tape
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Wood posts, 4-by-4 inches
  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Lag screws, 4-inch, with washers
  • Socket wrench
  • Lumber, 2-by-4-inch
  • Screws, 3-inch
  • Measure every 36 to 48 inches along the deck joists and mark the spots with chalk or tape to determine the locations for posts.

  • Form a 1 1/2-inch-deep notch over each marked spot along the deck’s surface so the posts fit snugly against the frame once installed.

  • Measure the thickness of the deck’s joist and surface. Include this sum to the post’s length, so each stands 3 feet tall when installed above the deck surface. Cut the 4-by-4-inch wood posts with a miter saw.

  • Measure up from the lower end of each post to the sum of the joist thickness and deck surface. Cut a 1 1/2-inch-deep notch over the point with a circular saw. Clean the notch with a hammer and chisel.

  • Predrill two holes through the bottom end of each post, using a drill and 3/8-inch driver bit.

  • Set a post into a notch in the corner of the deck, with its bottom end resting snugly inside. Drive a 4-inch lag bolt and washer through each hole to attach it to the joist. Tighten each bolt with a socket wrench. Continue this process of securing the posts to the notches along the deck’s joists.

  • Measure and cut 2-by-4-inch lumber for the upper horizontal rail. Hold one corner of this rail, while a helper holds its other corner, and position it directly under the tops of the posts. Drive two 3-inch screws to secure the rail to each post.

  • Position a 2-by-4-inch lower rail over the deck surface, and secure it to the posts using two 3-inch screws.

  • Measure the space between a pair of posts to determine how many spindles you need in between. Keeping the spindles 3 to 4 inches apart, mark their locations on the upper and lower rails with a marker.

  • Stand a wood spindle directly against the marks on the upper and lower rail. Drive two screws into the upper and lower end of each spindle to secure it to the rails. Continue this process until you install all the spindles along the deck rail.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use treated lumber that can withstand natural elements without decay.

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