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How to Build a Deck Railing

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert builds and installs a railing for deck stairs that will match the original railing around the rest of the deck.

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert builds and installs a railing for deck stairs that will match the original railing around the rest of the deck.

Steps for Building a Deck Railing

  1. For material, Nathan picked up wood made of fir, which is a great material for decks and is water-resistant. It also takes paint better than pressure-treated wood does.
  2. Remove the bottom stair deck boards.
  3. To find out what you need to notch out of the post, use one of the 2x4’s and plumb a level from the stringer. Make a mark on the inside of the level and take a measurement for the cut.
  4. Take the notch out of the posts.
  5. Make the top of the post from 45-degree cuts all around.
  6. Drill a couple of pilot holes at the bottom of each post for the structural screws.
  7. Put the post in place, make sure it is level and plumb.
  8. Secure posts by screwing in the structural screws.
  9. Find the angle and length of the bottom and top rails by laying the two pieces together on the nose of each stair tread, and mark where they hit each post.
  10. The angle of the rails will be the same angle the balusters will need to be cut.
  11. Make the cuts.
  12. Spray the ends of the balusters and rails with primer.
  13. Assemble the balusters to the top and bottom railings.
  14. Install it to the posts.

Resources

Nathan built the deck stair railing out of fir decking in a variety of sizes, including 2x4”s for the top and bottom rails, 4x4”s for the posts, and 2x2”s for the balusters.

To cut the lumber to size, Nathan used a sliding compound miter saw, which is manufactured by Dewalt.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by William C. Gilbert Carpentry.


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