How do I Put in Stair Rails?


National building codes require a handrail on almost all staircases. National codes require a handrail to be between 32 and 34 inches off the top of the stair tread. That measurement might differ in your area, so consult your building-codes office before you start. Otherwise, an inspector could make you tear down the handrail and rebuild it if you install it at the wrong height.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Mounting riser
  • Mounting bracket
  • Miter saw
  • Position your level in a vertical position on the top of the bottom stair tread and place a mark on the side of the level where the top of the second stair tread butts up against the level.

  • Measure the height of your handrail mounting riser and the height of your handrail with a tape measure. Add the two numbers together. Subtract that total from 33 and write down the difference.

  • Measure up from the mark you placed on your level to the total you obtained in step two and place a second mark on the level.

  • Locate each stud in the wall with a stud finder. Place the level on the stair treads that have studs in the wall and make a mark on the wall at the mark on the level.

  • Place the bottom edge of the handrail riser on the top of the marks you scribed on the wall and mark the location for the mounting holes.

  • Drill the mounting holes with a hand drill, using a drill bit that is half the size of the screws supplied with the risers.

  • Place the risers on the wall and secure them with the screws and a screwdriver.

  • Measure the length of the stairwell and transfer the measurement to the handrail. Cut the handrail to length with a miter saw.

  • Place the handrail on the risers and secure the handrail to the risers with the mounting bracket, screws supplied with the brackets and a screwdriver.

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