How to Build Grab Bars for Stairs

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Most areas require a grab bar, often referred to as a handrail, to be between 32 and 34 inches above the stair treads. However, check with your local building codes to see if you must make an adjustment to the height to comply with codes in your area. Installing a handrail is relatively straightforward once you have your measurements and know exactly where to place the riser mounts on the wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Riser-mounting brackets
  • Hand railing
  • Stud finder
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Place a level in a vertical position on the top of the first stair tread, then place a mark on the side of the level to denote the height of the second stair tread.

  • Measure the thickness of the riser-mounting bracket and the handrail you plan to use with a tape measure. Subtract that total from 33, which is the middle of the minimum and maximum handrail height.

  • Measure up from the mark on the level to the distance you obtained after doing your math in step two and place a second mark on the level. This is the exact height where the bottom of your riser-mounting brackets will go.

  • Locate each stud in the wall with a stud finder. Place the level against the wall in a vertical position and rest it on the stair tread that corresponds with the studs. Transfer the second mark to the wall studs.

  • Place the bottom edge of the riser-mounting bracket against the mark and mark the mounting holes for the bracket onto the wall.

  • Drill pilot holes that measure approximately ½ the diameter of the screws supplied with the riser-mounting brackets.

  • Place the brackets against the wall and secure them with the supplied screws and the screwdriver.

  • Measure the height of the stairs from the top of the first riser to the top of the last riser. Cut your handrail to that length with a miter saw.

  • Place the handrail on top of the mounting brackets and secure the handrail to the brackets with the hardware supplied with the riser-mounting brackets and a screwdriver. If the handrail is oak or a similar hardwood, you can drill pilot holes in the handrail before inserting the screws.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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