How to Secure a Railing at the Base


A deck or porch railing is much more than just an aesthetic look. A railing is a safety measure that must protect occupants from falling over the edge of the deck. To create a stable railing, the balusters must carefully be secured to the deck joists. Although there are many different designs for deck railings, one of the most secure railing styles requires you to individually attach each baluster to the deck joist and railing.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2-by-2-by-40-inch balusters
  • Carpenter's square
  • Cordless drill and bits
  • Bubble level
  • 4-inch lag bolts
  • Socket wrench
  • 2-inch nails
  • Measure the length of the deck where you would like to place the railing. Decide how much space you want to have between each baluster. Use a measuring tape and pencil to mark the placement of each baluster along the deck joist, spacing the balusters evenly. Use a carpenter's square to extend the line vertically and perfectly level. The marking will designate the location of the center of the baluster.

  • Place your measuring tape vertically along one placement line for the location of the baluster. Make markings 2 inches and 4 inches below the top of the deck joist. These lines will mark the location of the guide holes that will be drilled into the deck joist. Repeat for each baluster marking.

  • Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller in width than the lag bolt. Load the drill bit into the drill and drill guide holes into the deck joist at each 2- and 4-inch marking. The drill holes should be 2 inches deep to accommodate the 4-inch lag bolt. If necessary, use a 2-inch piece of wood as a guide to measure out the 2-inch-deep holes. Drill guide holes for every baluster.

  • Measure and make markings on the baluster at 2, 4, and 6 inches from the bottom of the baluster and centered horizontally. Repeat for every baluster.

  • Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller in width than the lag bolt. Load the bit into the drill and drill guide holes all the way through each baluster at the 2- and 4-inch markings.

  • Have a partner hold the baluster so that the 6-inch marking is level with the deck. Use a bubble level to make sure that the baluster is vertically straight.

  • Attach the baluster to the deck joist by inserting lag bolts into each drilled hole. Tighten the lag bolts using a socket wrench.

  • Install each baluster securely to the deck joist.

  • Install the railing onto the balusters. Secure it to the top of each baluster using 2-inch nails.

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  • Photo Credit deck with a view image by Bruce Shippee from
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