A durable deck is the perfect spot for an outdoor dining table or picnic table where you can enjoy a meal with friends and family. Over time though, even well-built decks need your attention. One of the first things to wear out on a wood deck or composite deck is the handrail.
If your deck railing is damaged, make sure to replace it as quickly as possible. A broken deck railing can cause accidents and injury. Use this guide to learn how to replace a worn or damaged deck stair railing with a new one.
Tip: Before you begin any deck repair project, prepare your replacement parts. Cover them thoroughly with a sealer preservative, paying special attention to the cut ends.
Remove the Damaged Railing
Before you can install a new deck rail you'll need to remove the old stair railing first.
- Mark the rail position on the posts for quick identification later.
- Remove the damaged railing. Set this aside until you've finished your new deck or porch railing installation.
- Position the new rail against the inside of the stairway posts.
- Align the rail with the top rear corner of the top post and with the mark on the lower post.
Tip: Have a helper attach the rail temporarily with deck screws while you hold it in place.
Attach the Rails
Here’s how to nail your new wood or composite railing in place. Screws may split the mitered ends, so avoid using them at this stage.
- Join the lumber you're working with by cutting the ends at 45 degree angles. This is particularly important for long rails.
- Drill 1/16-inch pilot holes to prevent the nails from splitting the end grain.
- Attach the rails with 16d (3 1/2-inch) galvanized nails.
Attach Rails to the Stairway Post
Next, you’ll need to make sure your new rail is firmly secured to its post.
- Attach the ends of the rails to stairway posts flush with the edges of the posts.
- Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and attach the rails with 2-inch deck screws.
Position the Cap
- Secure the rail cap fittings to your post.
- Position the rail cap so the edge is flush with the inside edge of the rail.
- Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and attach the cap to the rail with 2 1/2-inch deck screws driven in every 12 inches.
- Drive the screws into each post. Work carefully and take your time. Driving screws into place too quickly can result in split wood.
- Bevel the ends at 45 degree angles.
- Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and attach to the post using 16d galvanized nails.
Miter the Railing
You've positioned the rail cap and now it's time to miter the railing and attach the cap.
- Miter the ends of the railing cap at 45 degree angles at each corner.
- Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and attach the cap to the post with 2 1/2-inch deck screws.
Attach the Cap
Install the decorative cap at the top of your stair railing. Here's how to do it like a pro:
- Move to the top of the stairs with your tools and supplies. At the top of stairs, cut the cap so that it is flush with the stairway rail.
- Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and attach the cap with 2 1/2-inch deck screws.
Replacing damaged railing can make your deck, porch or patio a safer place. Updating railings can also improve the curb appeal of your outdoor space. A new wood railing, composite wood railing, aluminum railing or vinyl railing increases property appeal. Get everything you need to repair your deck in no time. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.