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Installing a Deck Railing

This DIY Basic will provide tips on installing a railing.

More in Remodeling

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Cut the Posts

Installing deck railing is easy if you use an anchored handrail system.

Standard rail height is 36 to 42 inches; posts will need to be 10 inches longer.

Step 3: Secure the Posts

Bolt the posts to the inside of the rim joists.

Maximum spacing of posts is 72 inches on center.

Bolts should be vertically spaced no less than 5-1/8 inch apart.

For a composite railing system, slide the post sleeve over the wood post, then the post sleeve skirt over the post sleeve; both should rest on the decking.

Step 4: Secure the Top and Bottom Rails

Attach the top and bottom rails to the inside of the posts using two 3-inch screws diagonally 2 inches apart.

Step 5: Attach the Top Cap

Attach the top cap to the posts using two 3-inch screws diagonally 2 inches apart.

Screw the top cap to the top rail every 12 inches.

Step 6: Install the Balusters

Screw the balusters into the top and bottom rails.

For a more finished look, bevel the bottom of each baluster.

Check your local building code for baluster spacing; maximum separation of balusters is usually 4 to 5 inches on center.

For a composite railing system, mount the support brackets, which the top and bottom rails will rest on, using two 5/8-inch mounting screws, making sure the hardware screws through the post sleeve and into the wood post.

Some composite railing systems call for setting the balusters in the slots on the bottom rail; then inserting the balusters into the channel of the top rail and aligning the top and bottom rails. Then the balusters are nailed to the rail and the rails screwed to the brackets.

Step 7: Attach Caps

Place caps on the tops of the posts.

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