Building a deck railing offers your home the opportunity to truly make a statement, while adding functionality and entertainment to your outdoor space.
The first step in building a simple deck is laying the decking planks in the shape desired to create your deck. After attaching the joists and stringers, you can install the deck railing. This process is done by fastening 2 by 4 lumber (aka studs) on each side of the steps between the inside and outside rails at every post and a support beam flush with the top of the stairs. Once installed, these additions add much needed strength to your structure so that it doesn’t collapse under its own weight. If you are building a deck, adding one or more railings is often the next step. In most cases, this is a simple process that can be completed in a weekend.
Are you planning on building a deck railing? Whether it’s your first time or not, this home improvement project can seem mysterious and intimidating. However, with a bit of guidance, you’ll find that it’s actually a pretty simple process. Once you’ve mastered the basics of this project, you can start adding your own personal touches to make the railing exactly what you want.
Prepare the Posts
To ensure that your deck is level, plumb, and square, you will need to measure the height of the posts. You can do this by using a tape measure or a laser level. The height of your post should be about 1/8 inch higher than the decking boards. Next, use a spirit level to make sure that each post is straight vertically and horizontally as well as level on all sides (i.e., not leaning toward or away from any other post).
If your posts are both straight and at an equal distance from one another horizontally and vertically in relation to their depth below ground (where they’re sitting), they should be square.
Measure and cut the railing posts.
It is a good idea to measure and cut the railing posts as soon as you have decided on their length. This will enable you to get them ready for installation while your deck frame is still laying flat on the ground, rather than having to set up a temporary support structure later.
Measure the distance between each post, then subtract 1/2″ from each measurement. Cut your posts accordingly with a circular saw or miter saw (a power saw designed specifically for cutting angles). Hold your timber at an angle so that its end points are pointing towards you once it’s cut through—this will make it easier when installing them into place later on.
Next, measure from ground level up to where this new post will be placed within its frame; this should be about 2-3 inches shorter than what you previously measured in order for there to be enough clearance room underfoot without tripping over any sharp edges or corners if anyone were walking along that same pathway later down their life journey.
Attach the railing posts to the deck.
The next step is to attach the railing posts to the deck. Use a drill to drill holes in the deck and hammer screws through them. Then, use a level to make sure that the railing posts are straight. You can use a miter saw or circular saw for this job as well—but be careful not to cut too much off of the post.
Build the Top Rail
- Take a look at the deck railing kits you’ve picked up, and decide which way you want your top rail (the rail on top of the bottom rail) to go. You may need to adjust this decision as you continue building your deck, but for now, it’s probably best to go with what feels right.
- If your kit includes a jig—a tool that helps ensure accurate cuts—use it now while assembling your deck railing planter box kit pieces together into one long rail piece before attaching them permanently to each other and/or posts or supports using screws or nails driven into predrilled holes in each end of each piece (remembering that one end will attach to the post itself). This will save time when making final adjustments later on because it allows easy access during assembly without sacrificing any structural integrity between components due lack thereof being properly aligned beforehand during construction process itself rather than afterwards.
Cut the pieces for the top rail.
To cut the pieces for the top rail, use a miter saw or jigsaw. Make sure the pieces are square and measurements match up. If you don’t have access to a table saw, you can use a circular saw instead of a miter saw or jigsaw. To do this, clamp together two pieces of wood to make one long piece (as shown below). This will give you some stability while cutting your lines so that they stay straight and true as opposed to being crooked when done separately on their own (like if you were cutting them individually).
You also want to make sure that all four sides are even with each other before gluing them together at this point; otherwise, you’ll end up with gaps where there shouldn’t be any in between each piece.
Assemble the top rail pieces.
Assemble the top rail pieces. The tops of your deck railings will be made up of several pieces, so you’ll want to make sure they’re cut properly before you begin assembling them. To do this, use a miter saw (a circular saw with a pivoting blade) to trim all four sides at 45 degrees and then measure and mark each piece for length. After marking each piece’s length, drill pilot holes along both sides at least 2 inches from the end using a hammer drill or cordless drill with an impact driver attachment.
Cut off any excess material where your markings are located then drive 2-inch screws into each pilot hole using an impact driver bit or cordless drill/driver set on low speed with no torque setting.
Build the Bottom Rails
- Cut the pieces for your bottom rail
- Assemble the pieces of your bottom rail. (Find step-by-step instructions for assembling a deck railing.)
- Install your new bottom rail.
Assemble the bottom rails.
To assemble the bottom rails, you will be attaching them to the bottom of each post. This is a fairly simple process and should take only a few minutes. You will need to have your drill and other necessary tools ready to go before you begin this step. The first thing that you need to do is measure out where each bottom rail will be positioned on each post. In order for everything to look uniform, make sure that you line up all of your measurements perfectly so they match up with one another when they are all put together later on in Step 4: Attach Top Railings.
Once this has been done, use some nails or screws (one per side) and attach each bottom rail onto the bottom of each post using brackets or L-shaped brackets if necessary
Install Deck Railings and Balusters
- Install the Top Rail
- Install the Bottom Rails
- Install the Balusters
The balusters should be installed in between the top and bottom rail. The balusters should also be installed in between the bottom rail and your deck. This will help make sure that you have a sturdy railing for your deck.
With these basic steps, you can build a simple deck railing with ease.
The first step to building a simple deck railing is to lay out the deck and make sure it’s square. This can be done by measuring diagonally from corner to corner, ensuring both measurements are equal, then measuring across one side of each diagonal measurement (the hypotenuse). If these two measurements are also equal, your deck is square.
If your measurements are off at all even just a little bit you’ll need to adjust them so your deck is perfectly square before you go any further with building a simple deck railing.
We hope our simple decking tips have been helpful. There is nothing quite as rewarding as building something with your own two hands.