After you’ve built the deck of your dreams, it’s time to tack on the finishing touches. A building code requirement for most decks, deck railings will add safety, style, and privacy to your outdoor space. They’re also relatively easy for DIYers to install. With the right equipment and instructions, you’ll be able to add this essential safety feature in no time. With a variety of designs that require minimal assembly to install, putting up deck railings yourself can also help you customize the look and feel of your entire yard.
Before you consider hiring a professional contractor to help you out with this project, check out these tips on how to properly install deck railings.
Measuring posts and balusters
“Most building codes require railings to be between 36 and 42 inches high.”
Carefully considering the height, length, and width of your deck railing choice is important because your local building codes will require certain dimensions and spacing. While they do vary by region, building codes usually require deck railing to be anywhere between 36 to 42 inches high, with no more than 4 inches of space between each baluster, or pole.
Regulations will also inform you on the maximum spacing allowed between each of the deck posts. Keeping this spacing in mind, plot out how many posts you’ll need from each corner of the deck you’re considering adding the railings on to. If you’re installing wooden railings, you can always cut off any excess material with a reciprocating saw in order to make sure each post accurately fits. Otherwise, non-wooden deck railings like vinyl or aluminum often come in easy-to-install kits that include items like screws and mounting brackets to help you complete the job.
Depending on the type of deck railing you’ve purchased, the trickiest part of installing deck railings can be accurately assessing baluster placement, as you’ll need to precisely calculate where to install the balusters. As mentioned above, many building codes require a baluster every 4 inches. That means if your balusters measure 2 inches wide, you’ll need to consider that their placement should be every 6 inches when it comes to projecting your spacing. Once you’ve calculated the correct baluster spacing, mark spots on the top and bottom rails so you can identify where the balusters will be installed. If you go with a deck railing kit, you’re in luck as many come with pre-measured and pre-drilled holes for the balusters.
Installing the rails begins with the posts. Instructions will vary depending on the type of deck rails you choose, but often you’ll start by placing each post against the deck joist and, using carriage bolts, or whichever hardware is recommended for your railing choice, attach the posts to the deck structure. Always make sure the hardware you’re using to secure the posts is completely sturdy, otherwise you may need to use another type of bolt or screw for increased durability.
Once you have the posts in place and secure, you can begin assembling the top and bottom rails. If your kit requires you to slide the balusters into holes or locking systems within the rails, do so before attaching the rails to the posts. If this isn’t a requirement, it’s usually easier to attach the balusters after you’ve secured the rails with the posts. Some deck-railing kits come equipped with gaskets or other types of metal accessories, so be sure to follow your manufacturer’s installation instructions and attach them as directed. Once you’ve completed all the steps, make sure everything is level and sturdy. Now it’s time to enjoy your finished deck!
What kind of deck railings are you considering installing?
Browse our selection of quality Deck Railings here. Find the right fit for your deck or patio.