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Building a Deck

How to Install Deck Railings and Balusters (page 2 of 2)

The final steps for completing construction of your deck are followed by seal, stain and enjoy.

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  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Here's How To Do It:

Step 4: Top and Bottom Rails

Cut two pieces of 2x4 the length of the span between posts. One will be the top rail, the other will be the bottom rail. Install balusters every 3-3/4" apart (check with local building code requirements). Cut a scrap piece of lumber 3 3/4" long to use as a stop guide when installing balusters. Screw one screw into 2x4 and into baluster. Flip over the rail section and repeat the process on the other side. Screw each end of the railing section into the top of each post and into the block at the bottom. After all of the railing sections have been installed, measure and cut a 2x6 to length for the finished cap rail. Make a 45-degree cut at any spices for a finished look. Note: Be sure to take separate measurements for each handrails section because even if the plans call for the rails to have the same length, there could be slight variations.

railing sections screwed to posts at top and base

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 5: Add Rail Cap

When all the railings are up, you'll want to add a 2x6 board as a rail cap, which will be perfect for setting your drinks on while lounging on the new deck. It's actually one long piece (remember, you started with 16' pieces of lumber), so you'll be able to do this without any splicing. Simply drill in some decking screws, and be sure to create a nice 45-degree corner for a nice look.

rail cap adds finishing touch to deck

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 6: Staircase Railing Installation

Repeat above handrail steps, including a 2x6 rail cap. Be sure to notch the final step and screw it down into place.

handrail steps repeated including adding rail cap

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 7: Seal, Stain and Maintain the Deck

Pressure-treated pine usually comes from the home center wet, so it will take some time to dry out before water sealer or stains can be applied. Check with the home center or the stain manufacturer for recommended wait periods. Apply water sealer (or stain) with a paint roller or brush or vegetable sprayer. Coat all of the surfaces liberally.

At least once a year, inspect the deck underneath for loose screws or rotting boards, excess moisture, or insect damage. Also, clean the deck at least once a year with a deck brightener or a solution of one part bleach to three parts water.

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