Iron railings are a classic way to provide safety for porch steps and edges. Keeping up with the maintenance on them is the best way to prolong the life of your railings. Once joints begin to move it is a downhill slide to the point of "beyond repair". Making repairs as soon as you notice them will save time and money in the long run. A few simple tools and some common sense are all that you need to keep your railings in good order.
Things You'll Need
Replacement screws or bolts
Tapcon concrete screws
Tighten the Railing Hardware
Tighten the hardware on the rail brackets. The top railing is typically held to the post with small screws or bolts. Use pliers and a wrench or screwdriver to snug up the hardware. Start at either end of the railing. The ends provide most of the strength for the railing and tightening them frequently solves the whole problem.
Replace any bolts or screws with stripped threads or damaged heads. Take the old hardware with you to easily identify the correct replacement hardware.
Repair damaged brackets with JB weld or similar metal epoxy. Remove the part, if possible, before making the repair. Mix the parts of the epoxy according to manufacturer's instructions. Clean the parts of loose rust, paint and dust with a wire brush. Apply epoxy to both pieces, allow the recommended time before attaching the parts to each other. Give the epoxy adequate time to harden before reattaching.
Replace broken parts. Most common railings are commercially produced and replacement parts may be available for special order from your local lumber yard. Take the broken part with you for easy identification.
Tighten Floor Brackets
Tighten concrete anchors mounting the post brackets to the floor. Use a screwdriver or wrench to tighten loosened concrete anchors. Tighten by hand to avoid stripping.
Replace severely stripped anchors with 1/4-inch tapcon style concrete screws. Purchase screws a little longer than the originals, to make sure they bite into the concrete.
Use a masonry bit to drill the hole to the appropriate depth 1/4-inch deeper than the length of the screw. Use a 3/16-inch masonry bit. Wrap a piece of masking tape around the bit to mark the needed depth (the length of the screw plus 1/4-inch from the tip of the bit.
Drive the screw snugly into the hole. Use the manufacturer's recommended screw bit and make sure not to overtighten.
Tighten Floor Brackets on Wood Floor
Tighten screws in wood porch floors with a screwdriver, rather than a drill, to avoid stripping the screw hole further.
Break a match stick or small wood dowel off in holes that are severely wallowed out before replacing and tightening the screws. This can help to provide extra tension in the hole and allow the screw to tighten down fully.
Use a slightly longer or thicker screw to replace those in severely wallowed holes. If the railing does not tighten after replacing the screws, you may have to remove and replace the damaged floor board to give the railing proper support.