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Take a Wood Deck Rail to the Next Level (Enhance a Deck Rail)

Construction How-To, Decks, Decks, Decks, Outdoor Living, Outdoor Living - Directory, Railing, Trim Carpentry September 4, 2010 Matt Weber


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Decorative Accessories take a Wooden Deck Handrail to the Next Level.

 

 

Constructing a deck gives the builder ample opportunity to customize it with a personal touch. The deck shown in this article was built from pressure-treated lumber and stained to match the fence that surrounded the back yard. However, when it came to the railing system, I decided to incorporate some different materials and construction methods to give the design some extra flair. As with any major project, consult local building codes for specific requirements in your area.

When installing handrail posts, EHT recommends using a minimum of two galvanized 1/2-inch through-bolts with washers. A metal post-to-deck bracket will reinforce this connection even further.

When installing handrail posts, EHT recommends using a minimum of two galvanized 1/2-inch through-bolts with washers. A metal post-to-deck bracket will reinforce this connection even further.

Strong Posts

To build any handrail system you must start with a strong foundation. For the posts I used 4-by-4’s stained to match the deck. When installing the posts, EHT recommends using a minimum of two 1/2-inch galvanized through-bolts with washers driven through the framing and the full 4-inch thickness of the post (rather than notching the post, which weakens it). To bolster this connection, we also recommend using a post-to-deck metal bracket, such as that manufactured by Simpson Strong-Tie or Deck-Lok. These metal brackets fasten to the through-bolts and connect flush to an adjacent framing member with galvanized screws. If the posts don’t line up next to an adjacent joist then you may have to install blocking to provide a fastening surface. Using the metal brackets takes a little more time, money and effort, but this stronger connection will ensure the posts stay safe and sturdy.

Clamp the top and bottom rails together, and mark them 4-1/2" on center.

Clamp the top and bottom rails together, and mark them 4-1/2″ on center.

Measure carefully the handrail length between posts. If using Deckorators Railing Connectors, subtract 1/2" from the measurement and cut to size.

Measure carefully the handrail length between posts. If using Deckorators Railing Connectors, subtract 1/2″ from the measurement and cut to size.

The posts must be at least 36 inches high and spaced no more than 6 feet apart.

Once the deck boards were installed, I finished the bottoms of the posts with traditional Post Base Trim by Decorators. This profiled wooden trim piece slips over the 4-by-4 posts and glues in place to conceal the gaps between the deck boards and post.

Screw on the plastic Railing Connector, and fasten the lower rail between the posts.

Screw on the plastic Railing Connector, and fasten the lower rail between the posts.