How to Build a Deck Part 6: Railing

All right, so the next stage of our deck here is we’re going to go ahead and install our handrails We’re going to do three different handrails on this deck Typically you would just choose one and do that for the whole deck but for the purpose of this demonstration I’m going to do three [different] hand railings to show you the different types The first thing that you want to do before you actually start Installing your handrails is to make sure that your posts are all cut off right at the right height as well as they’re secure all of our posts are going to be nice and secure because we went ahead and Buried at least four feet of our posts into the ground that’s going to help secure it and then they’re also secured to the deck so Our posts aren’t going to move at all but every once in a while This deck is a little bit smaller if we had an intermediate post That knot wouldn’t necessarily go into the ground or even our two posts that are up against our building here Those posts should just get attached to the Rim Joist [but] if you remember from our framing portion of this deck we went ahead and did [that] post pocket Around that post that helps secure that post quite a bit so our two posts against the wall are Nice, and firm aren’t going to move but you want to take care of that before you actually start installing the railing because you want to make sure that those posts are nice and plumb and in line with your Other posts so our posts are ready to go and I’m going to go ahead and demonstrate our first style of railing here This is pretty much the basic style or basic most basic style of railing you can do it actually doesn’t even meet some code requirements But let’s just say you were building a temporary ramp or doing temporary railing for a project that’s going to be coming down in the future or If it’s just a project that isn’t going to meant to be up for very long So what this railing is is it’s just a bottom rail. It’s going to be a middle rail and a top rail and You just make it out of two-by-four, so we would have one on the bottom here We’d have this intermediate middle one, and then one right on the top and then you can put a handrail on top of this The reason why this doesn’t mess necessarily meet code most communities or Towns have a three and a half inch gap Minimum between spindles or railing and obviously we’re going to have about a foot of a gap here and you could accidentally crawl through here a little kid could be walking on here crawl through it and fall off the deck, so This is just meant for temporary structures, so what we’ll do if if you remember I went ahead and cut everything to begin with so our railings already cut to the dimension that it’s supposed to and just in case one of our posts are just slightly out of plumb we want to make sure that we take a little bit of time and Get these cut to the dimension that they’re supposed to be and bring these posts back into plumb so go ahead and line up right to the top [of] our post here and Screw it in And I should mention that I’m using screws on this portion of the project has at least a good inch to inch and a half of Thread into the actual post you could also use nails But if you’re going to use nails make sure that you use ring Shank or twist nails Because this is going to be a safety railing. So if you were just using common box nails or sinkers It’s not going to have any grip and over time as you lean [on] this it could fall away from the post and those nails Could come loose. So make sure you’re using Some type of nail that has a grip if you’re going to use nails so I’m going to get my screw started here, and I see that I’m about a sixteenth inch long and This post since it doesn’t go on [the] ground prize Just a little bit out of plumb So I’m going to bring that right [to] the edge of my two by four since I know this is the length I’m supposed to be at and go ahead and screw it in All right, so that’s basically our top rail what I would do is I would go [ahead] and put four screws in each post and again This is going to be our finished product so if it was going to be staying You would want to make sure that those four screws are evenly spaced and make sure it looks nice when it’s done I’m going to go [ahead] and install my other two rails here, and then I’ll finish screwing off the rails after they’re hung same concept come in the bottom here and get one screw in Come on the other side And then for our middle posts all I’m going to do is split the difference [and] put it [right] in the center So I got 27 inches here [to] take half of that just and Make a mark All right, got [thirteen] and a half and that Center Point is going to be the center of our board So I’m going to go ahead and strike a line and then drop that in ancient [three-quarters] because our board is an internet or three and a half inches wide And I want to take half of [that] which is an inch and [3/4] And that’s going to be the bottom of our rail from that line All right Go ahead take this last board Line it up with our line And screw it into place All right, that is the three rails of our railing here So then the last step would be to go ahead and bring the rail all the way around the deck here And then we come back and [put] a [2×6] cap on here which will demonstrate after we get all the other rails on But that would be the last step All right our next set of railing here is another very simple set of railing the only biggest difference instead of having that middle rail our Safety is going to basically be our spindles here And this is a type of railing that would meet most codes because we have less than three and a half inches here between spindles and there’s no way a baby get their head stuck in between there or kid can go through so This is a little bit more safer style of railing It’s real simple basically as a top rail and a bottom rail and the way I got those measurements was to go from the back of my post here to the inside of my stair post and Again, we’re not going [to] bring our railing all the way across here because we have a set of stairs here Then I went ahead and got a measurement and then took that measurement and cut my top and bottom rails And then I went ahead and cut my spindles so the way I got my spindle height was I went from the top of my post here down to the deck board and that should be right now 35 and a half or Sorry 34 35 and a half is going to be our final height 34 but then I also want a little bit of a gap here if you noticed on our first handrail went ahead and put that Or I should say railing we put our bottom rail all the way tight to the deck [not] really too concerned because that’s just going to be temporary railing But if we were to have this in a climate that maybe has a lot of snow [it’s] going to be kind of painful to try to get right up next to that bottom rail and clean all [that] snow [out] So a little bit different scenario is to bring your railing up off the deck [just] a little bit I’m going to have about an inch and a half to two inches underneath my bottom rail and then as you’re shoveling, you can go ahead and Get some of [that] snow out from underneath the bottom rail, or if there’s leaves. It’s just make sweeping just a little bit easier one one note with that is if you’re going to go with that style of railing that has The bottom rail off the deck. [I] suggest having your posts just a little bit closer because on the front here We [may] have about a seven and a half to eight foot stand here if you span that railing this whole distance [that’s] pretty much a lot of it is a lot of weight for the top and bottom railing once you get all these spindles on It’ll look nice for about six months, but after that you’re going to start getting some dips in your railing so stick with some tighter post spacings if you’re going to do that type of railing so After we cut our top and bottom rail here. I went ahead and cut my spindles to length and Instead of just throwing these on willy-Nilly There’s a little bit of a trick to get these nice and centered with your With your post here you want to visually when you’re looking at your railing you want to have your posts or your spindles centered with your posts you don’t want to just start on the edge here and Work your way across because you’ll have no gap here, and you might have a little or smaller gap over [on] this side So what I did Was I went ahead and found the center point of my top and bottom it was going to be this spindle here and I made A mark, and I put this first spindle right on that center mark, and then I went ahead and cut a spacer Most codes that I’ve encountered is three and a half you can go ahead and use a [2×4] [for] a spacer [I] like to go down to three inches because if you’re getting your final inspection And one of those is three and five-eighths that building inspector has every every right to tell you to take all those spindles off and make sure they’re at the right spacing so go at three inches and It’s just a little bit of a safeguard and you can’t screw up that way, but had my [center] rail here then I went ahead and put this spacer in and butted up my Next spindle to it. [go] [ahead] and screw it in and just kept that process going all the way along here And then did the [same] process on the bottom and had that same spacer And then you know you’re evenly spaced The biggest thing that you want to pay attention though when doing this is make [sure] you have that same center mark [on] top and bottom if those are offset a little bit when you go to Install this railing your spindles aren’t going to be perfectly plumb, and it’s going to look horrible So take that extra time to make sure that center mark is perfect make sure that when you’re butting these spindles up That you butt them up nice and tight and there’s no gap in there because once one’s off that’s going to magnify as you go down the railing so We got our spindles on our top rails are cut to length and we’re ready to go ahead and install this railing so what we can do is we can go ahead and bring it up into place here and Aj can hold that side and what I’m going to do? since these spindles only have one screw in it or basically pivoting so To get this perfect. I’m just going to go ahead and screw the top into place first, so I know that’s exactly Going to be in the right location when it’s finished And I’ll get a screw in here And I should know I don’t know if you guys can see but I went ahead and pre-drilled this this is basically finished carpentry here, so When you get [your] screws, I’m going to put four screws in this post. I went ahead and pre-drilled these because there’s nothing worse [than] Screwing these two right close to the end [green] here and having this split out it Just looks really ugly when it’s finished so [I] went ahead and pre-drilled all these it also gives you the proper screw spacing and just makes a [better-looking] finished product, so I’m going to go ahead and come over to this corner also get a screw in Make sure it’s nice and flush the top of my post And now you can see my bottom is probably about a half inch off That doesn’t mean I cut my pieces wrong it just means that this isn’t perfectly square right now So I’m going to go ahead [a] gre push it over for me Go ahead and get this nice and flush with the inside of my post and now you can see I have a nice even reveal between my spindle my post and We’re nice and plumb and now the rest of my [spindles] also follow suit because we had that equal spacer in there So what I can do now is I’ll go ahead and finish screwing off all four screws on each post and this Railing is fully installed Okay, [so] the final set of railing that I’m going to show here is just a little bit nicer [set] [of] railing just Spruces up the deck just a little bit It’s the same concept of that railing as far as spindle spacing but basically what it is is it has this top rail for the spindles and bottom rail for [the] spindles and Then this is going to be sandwiched between two two by fours laying flat So [I] would have a bottom one here, and then this one would come up here and just form a nice fancy handrail here so the biggest difference With this one is these spindles are going to be attached from the top? So there’s a little bit [of] extra step that we have to do here, and I should kind of mentioned To get to get the dimension or at least the length of our top and bottom spindle rail here Whenever I’m pre cutting these I like to take the measurement and especially when Volunteers are putting these together Because you’re never going to get these posts exactly where you want them They might be a thin [ch2] quarter inch off by the time you actually get to railing so you can take this measurement and I got eighty inches here and when I Go have the volunteers cut these I’m going to have them cut this top and bottom spindle at [81] I’m going to add that extra inch and They can go ahead and install it and then when it comes [or] go ahead and put it to pre pre make it Prefabricated and then when it’s time [to] actually go put these in place We can get it right where [at] once or supposed to be Scribe the line on here? And then we can go ahead and make [that] final cut [and] it’ll fit [perfectly] but if you try to cut it right at the right measurement to begin with it might be a half a day to a day before you actually install the railing and These posts might warp this a little bit And it just doesn’t look very good [so] go ahead and cut these a little bit long You’ll still be able to get your center point off of it and then you can center it in the opening Scribe it and cut it and they’ll perfectly fit, so We got our spindle lengths here. I went ahead and installed all of except the last one again we started with the center one here, and then worked both ways and Installed all these, but I just wanted to show you this last one because it is just a little bit different going from the top but you can put it in place here and we’re going to need a Pre drill bit and what I’m going to do is I’m going to pre-drill the screw But then I’m also going to be putting in a finish nail It’s going to make a little bit more sense here in a second [but] if you can kind of imagine if we just screw down from the top on all these No matter how tight we screw it these spindles are basically going to be able to Spin within the top and bottom rail So what I do is right in the corner. I’ll put an extra nail in and that will help to keep it from spinning Just make sure whenever you are getting these thin finish nails that you get the hot dip galvanized ones because again We’re going into treated lumber and all of our fasteners have to be approved for that treated lumber so what I’m going to do is I’m going to go ahead and put my spacer in between here Again, we went with that three inch spacing I’ll take my drill bit and get it right in the center of that spindle and pre-Drill [for] the screw Okay, and then we can go ahead and drive a screw through that spindle And you want to make sure that spindle again is nice and tight to the previous spindle and nice and square with the rail Okay Nice and flush with the front And then once it’s square between the railing here What I’m going to do is I’m going to eyeball that corner, and I’m not going to drill straight down [I] want to come in just a little bit of an angle so our nail doesn’t accidentally come through the corner here so [I’m] going to find that corner and Screw it just a little bit of an Angle towards the center All right, and then we can go ahead and drive that nail in Get it nice and flush and now this spindle will never be able to twist within these top and [bottom] rails So we can go ahead and flip this guy over Get our spacer block and repeat the process on the bottom All right So all of our spindles are now installed So then the next step [that] we want to do here is we can go ahead and put this aside for half a second And we’re going to get our top and bottom rails in Place and one thing I should note is When selecting your rails you want to sight down your board and try to pick the straightest boards that you have for this Because we’re going to snap a chalk line on this and that’s going to be our reference [point] to line this up this is just a 1 by material and as you put all those spindles in there. It’s going to warp over time. It’s not straight so you’re going to need a nice straight guide line to Guide your spindle rails onto this board to make sure they’re nice and straight and what I’m going to do is I’m going to take our goal here is to center our railing on this 2×4. So I know my dimension here is Inch and a half so half of inch and a [half] is 3/4 And I want to come off our center line 3/4 of an inch And then I’ll go ahead and snap a line will come in here Half of three and a half which is our [2×4] is an inch and 3/4 and then we’ll come [back] that 3/4 of an inch Do the same on this side? Inch and 3/4 Come Back 3/4 and now we can go ahead and snap this line You’re my chum. I [go], and then we’ll know [that] this should be the edge of our railing on this board All right So what we can do is Grab our railing here Aj you want to give me a hand We’ll go ahead and throw this on top here I’ll start on that end if you’re not grab over here We’ll get this lined up And then we’ll go ahead and screw this in place I need to get a different set of screws here, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to go ahead line this up with my line, and then go ahead and drive it screw right through my Bottom spindle rail here into our bottom rail making [sure] that our edge is nice and lined up With this chalk line all the way down, and then I know I’ve straightened my railing up And then we’ll go ahead and attach our top rail, so I’m gonna go grab those different sets of screws And I’ll be right back [all] [right], so I got my different screws here. [I] want to use at least about an inch and a quarter to inch and a half because I don’t want to go all the way through my Board here. [I’m] literally just attaching it to this top and bottom rail So we’ll come in here follow our chalk line And screw these into place All right, so went ahead and got the bottom in and I made sure [that] we’re right along our line here I’m going to go ahead and flip this over and do the same exact thing [for] our other rail And then we’ll be ready to cut this to length and install it [alright], so [we] went ahead and got our top and bottom plate on here and now the next thing I want to do is I want to go ahead and [mark] our lengths like I said before especially when prefabricating this Before we actually get to this point to keep valent ears busy it’s a good idea to leave a good half inch on both sides to [Fine-tune] it when it comes time to install it, so What I’ve done, so I went ahead and centered this between my two posts here, and it’s real important We took all that time to center our center spindle here? I want to take off both sides of this poacher or this railing here So I’m going to take a little bit off this end I’m going to take a little bit off this and so my center Spindle is still centered within these two posts if you just notch off or take off one end Then you’re not going to be centered within your post anymore so make sure you center it and the last thing I’m going to do real quick is just make sure [that] my Spindle is plumb here Which it looks like we’re [spot] [on] so what I can do is Come over carefully without moving this and I’ll go ahead and just take a pencil or pen here and mark my posts And this will be the exact amount that I want to take off on each side All right now that those are marked. I can take this down I’m just going to use a speed square to strike a [90-degree] line across there And then I’ll take a circular saw and nip off all four of these corners, and it will fit within our opening nice and tight you All right, so we have a perfect fit here. We went ahead [and] Put it between our post here. I went ahead [and] made sure we’re nice [and] flush and I Did two toasters one through both sides into the top of each of our posts here? And I’m going to go ahead and do the same in our bottom So made sure it’s nice [and] flush Come back just a little bit here Until skew that right into the post Do the same on this [side]? then I’ll go ahead and also do the same on the inside of the rail as [well] one on the inside here and on the other side I Did want to mention real quick here? Our spindle spacing is nice and accurate we have the same Distance at the bottom between our pellets as the top in our spindle But one last thing to mention here because we came from the center I didn’t put my last spindle in because it’s going to technically sink into the post a little bit but we can’t leave this gap here because it’s larger than our three and a half inch code, so two ways of tackling this you can just take your last spindle go ahead and put it in place and In our case here. It doesn’t look too horrible. You can’t really tell that we’re about 3/8 of an inch Shorter here that we are here And you go ahead and [do] it on this side, too but This one’s a little long off the trim it down But what we can do to make this even nicer is go ahead and take [that] 3/8 of an inch off the back of here and make that spacing nice and equal Go ahead and install that and then we can run a screw coming in here And then coming in the bottom and then we’ll have a nice even spacing all the way across so we’ll go [ahead] [and] tackle that as well and Get this screwed off on the inside, and then we’ll be ready for our top hand rails ok so we have now entered our hand rail stage of the this is going to be the last stage of Completing our deck here, [so] it’s real simple basically I chose a handrail that’s going to cover the width of our post and The width of our railing here, so 2 by 6 gives us that coverage plus it gives us a nice little overhang here for a little bit of extra detail and This particular set of railing here is about as simple as you can get I literally came from the back of this post To our stairwell opening here cut the piece to the link and then put it on top [and] scoot it in place [one] note again, this is going to be the finish handrail people are going to be rubbing [they’re] having their hands along here. So you want to make [sure] that the screws are [placed]? Nice and straight as well as after you get those screws done take all that extra wood that comes up around the screws and get that cleaned up nice and neat and then when it comes time to actually standing the deck you can actually come over this with a Belt Sander or a palm sander and get this nice and smooth And there’s no splinters the second thing you want to look for is any Ugly knots this is going to be your show side, so I have a little bit of a knot here, but it’s all tight There’s no Knots going to fall out. There’s also no splinters on these boards, so I got my other three here I have a little bit of a knot here but that’s something we can just take a belt Sander over and Clean that [up] nice and neat you just don’t want any of those loose ones that have those sharp points to them Because again [people] will be sliding their hands over this and you want to be nice and smooth, so I Went ahead and did my four screws right in the top And you want to minimize your screws here because it’s going to be that showpiece and then along the middle of the rail here [I] just [chose] to put one screw right in the middle right [into] my Outer railing piece here that’s going to hold this railing up nice [and] tight, but I don’t need to go crazy I don’t need to go every six inches or so just enough to hold this top piece on so won’t fall off So this one is nice, and simple we have a corner on this side And typically you don’t have two or three different styles or railings going on you just have the one So pedal little bit of a tricky corner here, but the [concepts] going [to] be the same Anytime you have two railings coming in to each other you want to finish off a nice miter joint? I just have my board sitting here, but we’re going to focus a little bit of extra time getting this screwed Or this miter joint screwed tight, [so] it doesn’t come apart and so it stays nice But same concept though we have a [two] by [six] running all along this rail 2 by 6 running all along this rail And they meet at this miter so you may have mentioned or notice [too]. [I] went ahead and cut this one the length It’s nice and flush on the back But we’re going to have [a] set of stairs coming off the front here So I’m just going to go ahead and run this one long for the time being [so] whenever we get our stairs and our stair hand railing [I] can go ahead and focus on making a nice clean cut wherever that Stair railing meets up [with] this so I’m going to just run this long for right now But the first step that we’re going to do here is we’re going to focus on this miter miter is just a nice 45-Degree Line, Or 45-degree cut On this board and on this board they meet and they make 90 degrees So what I’m going to do to make this tight? You can kind of see they’re at [different] levels right now I’m just going to get these at the right angle so it can close just like that, and then I’m going to run a screw through the corner here and Bring these two [miters] tight all along focusing on making sure they’re nice and flush and brought together tight just like so So I’m going to go and do that on the outer Overhang here where we’re not going to have anything to screw to and then I can focus on this corner When it comes time to actually screwing it into the post But now that I’ve just moved these boards you want to take a little bit of extra time here and make sure that You’re located right where you need to be nice and flush on the back here I’m going to knock this into place here All right, I’m going to get nice and flush here And again, I’m just going to be focusing right on this [vitae] right now I’m not worrying too much about this because I want to get this nice and Secure, and then I’m going to work outward from this mitre because as I get a few nails out here I’ll be able [to] kind of use [a] little bit of leverage This won’t move because it’s all [stared] down and then I can get the rest of the board straight from there so always focus on your miters first but Have a little bit of a ledge here, so I’m going to go ahead and put this screw in my top rail on this side [alright], and I brought that nice and flush our mitre is closed and This is the one point just for this demonstration Typically I would have that same railing coming along the side I don’t have any rail here, but what you would do is. I would have this top rail on this side if it was the same decking and I would be able to Apply my screws here Just imagine. There’s that top rail here. I would go ahead and put the screw on the same location [on] the other side and that would bring these two right to the same height and Then what I can do is in [addition] to those two screws on this side of the miter I’m going to go about the same distance away from my miter and make sure that I hit my outer rails here Okay I’m going to put another screw in here nice and neat Take an extra time to make [sure] they’re lined up properly All right, so I got my for excusing my post there my mitre is closed It’s looking nice and neat and then what I’m going to do is just double check that I’m still pretty close to being flush on All four corners, and then I’m going to come out about a foot and then screw into my top rail again Again, I would have a railing here. If these are the same rails. I’m just going to put it in the outside rail here But ideally you’d [want] to be the same Okay, so now those six screws will be enough to keep that miter tight as I come out here And adjust the rest of this board my mitre is going to stay tight And I can get it flush all the [way] along the rest of the railing here So what I’m going to do is I’m going to work my [way] down going about every 24 inches or so and [screw] this deck board off All right again. I’m going to leave this end for right now, okay? So I have to make any cuts for the stair railing, but then what I’m going to do is I’m going to come back and Finish off putting in a second screw where I? Screw to that first group because I want this handrail to be sitting flat the whole time [if] you just go on this one side over time this will dry out, and I’ll start to warp on you So I’m going to go ahead and put a second screw at every location And again, I’m going to take that extra time to make sure they’re all lined up nice and straight This is going to be a finished piece All right, so we can go ahead and finish screwing off this last handrail here and all of our handrails are in place

23 thoughts on “How to Build a Deck Part 6: Railing

  1. This is a quote I got from I also learned this from a carpenter and it seems the best way to get perfect spacing. "posts is 12' 0" and the spindles are 1.5" with a space less than 4" between spindles you will need 144/(1.5+4)=26 and change. Round it down (because you must have LESS than 4") to 26, now, 26 spindles @ 1.5"=39" of spindle, that leaves 144"-39"=105" of space between them. With 26 spindles you have 27 spaces (25 between them and one at each end) so, 105"/27=3.89" Cut yourself a spacer that big, start in the center and work both ways so that any error in the cutting of the spacer ends up equally at the ends near the posts and you're done, Did that hurt? :Thumbs:"

  2. looks like you removed and re-installed the railing on the right off camera to put the vertical posts on the inside so that the 2×6 actually covered everything. 🙂

  3. On your first rail, the bottom board should be off the deck about 6 inches. This helps it dry faster and allows snow to be pushed off from under it.

  4. It's best to place the bottom rail 2-3" above the deck so that leaves and debris are easily removed and eliminate a place for moisture to remain longer than necessary.

  5. What length screw for rail style #2, if using the rail board that is pre-routed for the balloster and from which side do you install the screw?

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