A Sturdy Rail for Outdoor Stairs
Preassembled baluster sections speed construction of this deck-stair guardrail.
Synopsis: In the final installment of this three-part series on building deck stairs, Kevin Manning, project manager at Red House Design, talks through adding the final piece of the stairs: hardwood railings. The railings were assembled in sections, secured to a bottom rail, and then topped with a molded handrail for a professional finish. Manning discusses how to assemble the baluster sections, trim the posts, install the sections, and add the handrail to complete the railing system.
This is the final piece in our three-part series on building deck stairs. (View links to the other articles in the series at the bottom of this page.) The stringers are complete, the stairs are trimmed with Meranti Mahogany, and now it’s time to complete the hardwood railings. We constructed these railings by assembling them in sections and securing the bottom rail before fastening the sections in place. What looks like a complicated assembly involved just one setting on a miter saw, which makes the necessary cuts simple and quick. A molded handrail completes the railing system, covering visible hardware and providing a professional look.
Fit and fasten the bottom rail
Assemble the baluster sections
The baluster sections are made up of 2×2 balusters sandwiched between a top and bottom subrail. The subrails are 1⁄2 in. thick, ripped from 2x stock and cut to the same length as the bottom rail, with matching beveled ends. The gaps between the balusters match the 2x baluster thickness, so cutoffs are used as spacers—just be careful not to inadvertently drill into a spacer instead of a baluster.
Trim the posts
Install the balusters
Add the handrail
Kevin Manning is a project manager at Red House Design in Providence, R.I., and completed this project with his coworker Aaron Crocker. Photos by Colin Russell.
From Fine Homebuilding #308