Tools: Miter Saw, Cordless Screwdriver, 16/18 Gauge Nailer/Stapler
Hardware: 9 x 2-1/2-Inch Flat Head Square Drive Deck Screws, Finish Nails, Handrail Bracket
Material: 12 - 3 x 3 Spindles, 2 - 2 x 4 Handrails, 1 - Lattice Strip
The first step is somewhat obvious. That is to measure in between the posts to get our handrail measurement. Rarely will you find that your measurements are exactly the same on the top and bottom because of your post not being precisely plumb. In most cases, you still want to cut the top and bottom handrails exactly the same.
Cut the handrail sections to your measurement.
Blocklayer.com has a great tool for determining the spindle spacing.
Depending on your local building codes, you may be required to meet a maximum space between the spindles. Check with your local township or boro.
I like the ‘block spacer’ method. Cut a block the length of the space and use that as a template. For this project, the block was 2-15/16”. For good measure, space all the spindles using the block and make sure both end are equal. Do this before you fasten any of the spindles.
Selecting your tools.
Personally I like to use a finish nailer to assemble the rail sections. I found this to be a lot easier and a lot more precise. We recommend still using a screw in addition to the nails.
Understanding the handrail grooves and lattice strip.
Utilizing this system eliminates the screw or nail exposed on the top of the handrail producing a beautiful finish. On the bottom, we suggest installing the handrail with the groove facing down.
Building the rail section
Up to this point we discussed everything except the actual work itself.
Staple the top lattice strip to the spindles.
Add a screw to every spindle.
Staple or screw the new section to the top handrail. Staples alone are sufficient here. Be sure to use short staples or drive them in at an angle so the won’t poke through the top of the handrail.
- Repeat step 1 and 2 for the bottom handrail. Note that you don’t need a lattice strip for the bottom.
Installing the new rail section to the deck post
An easy way to do this step is by using handrail brackets. Most hardware stores sell this item. Another method is to toe-screw the handrails to the post. It's good practice to pre-drill your screw holes of you are going this route. Yet another method is using an end board.