How to Install a Deck's Stair Railing

Every deck with stairs needs a railing to match. Here's how to safely build and install one.

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Building a new deck isn't limited to the floor plan. You also have to consider stairs, posts, and railings. Check your local codes to see if there are any specific requirements your railing will need to meet, then follow our how-to guide to build and install one of your own. 

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What You Need

  • 2x4
  • Pencil
  • Layout square
  • T-bevel
  • Circular saw blade
  • 2x4-inch spacer
  • Drill
  • 3-inch deck screws
  • Cap rail
  • 2 1/2-inch deck screws

Step 1: Mark for Cuts

For the top stair rail, hold a 2x4 against the top and bottom posts, parallel with the stairway. At the top, mark the rail for an angled cut. Still holding the stair rail in position, mark the lower rail post for an angled cut.

Step 2: Make Cuts

Use a layout square and T-bevel to mark lines around the rail post. Set a circular saw blade to a depth about 1/4-inch more than the thickness of the post, and cut both angled lines. Have a helper hold the post, gently lifting upward as the cut is finished.

Step 3: Cut Balusters

Cut the bottoms of the stairway balusters at 22-1/2 degrees—just like the deck balusters. Then hold a baluster plumb against the angled railing, and mark the top angle. Gang-cut the balusters and fasten them in place using a scrap 2x4 spacer.

Step 4: Attach Cap Rail

Where the stairway rail cap meets the deck rail cap, hold a board in position and mark it alongside the post for a bevel cut. Adjust the angle on a circular saw and experiment on scraps until it is right. Attach the cap rail with 2-1/2-inch screws.

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