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How to Install Stair Railing

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Install Your Own Stair Railing
Stair Railing in Use

Finished Stair Railing in Use

© Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com
Stair railing doesn't seem all that important--until the moment you walk down a rail-less set of stairs. You realize that, should you stumble, you have no recourse. Your body becomes a bobsled all the way down.

As it turns out, installing stair railing is easy and well within the skill set of even the most basic DIY home remodeler.

You will need:

  1. Handrail Bracket: These things are great. They will save you loads of time. The brand I use, Hillman, is cheap but it will win no awards for style. You can find unique railing brackets with a little searching (though they are very expensive, running well over $25 per piece.) Search Prices - Handrail Brackets
  2. Chalk Line: If you don't have a chalk line handy, don't worry. Anything resembling a chalk line (minus the chalk) works great: string, twine, fishing line.
  3. Pencil: Any kind.
  4. Railing: Unless you are a fine woodworker, buy pre-made railing--not raw lumber. You can find long, continuous railings at home centers. Buy about 24" longer than you will need to account for potential mistakes and to give yourself a short sample piece to work with.
  5. 2.5" Screws: Any kind. Drywall screws will work.
  6. Cordless Drill: You'll need both a Phillips-head driver and a set of bits.
  7. Laser Level: You can get by without this, but it really helps the process out.
  8. Measuring Tape
  9. Studfinder
Note: We are installing stair railing only--railing that attaches to a wall in a stairwell. For an entire railing/baluster/newel package, see our article about Staircase and Balcony Railing Kits.

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