How to install a Handrail
You will need the following things:
-Hand tools such as hammer, screwdriver, drill and tape measure
-Helper for assistance
Find and mark the spot at the top of the stairs where you want the handrail to begin. Then walk down to the bottom of the stairs and mark on the wall where you want the handrail to end. The handrail is usually installed 36 inches above the step, so make your mark on the wall at the 36" height location.
Handrails are generally available in lengths of 10, 12, 14, or 16 feet long and are priced either by the foot or by the length, depending on the type of handrail and where you buy it. Use a tape measure to check the length between the marked top spot and the marked bottom spot. The railing must extend past the mounting brackets, so definitely make sure you account for this extra length.
You will be using at least 3 mounting brackets, and even more if the railing is over 48 inches long. One bracket at the top, one bracket at the bottom and additional brackets placed in the middle, no more than 48" apart. When you purchase the handrailing, you can have it cut to length at the store so make sure you bring your exact measurements with you.
Find the stud nearest the top of the stairs and place a 1" wide piece of masking tape where the wall stud is. Run the tape up and down, to give you a true indication of where the wall stud is. Use the tape to mark where every vertical wall stud is located to give you a better idea of where you can place the brackets to hold the handrail. Wall studs are usually 16 inches apart. Mark each stud so you have a selection of places to mount the brackets.
Unless you are doing corners or end-caps on your handrail, you can have the handrail cut to length at the store. However, if you are doing corners, you will need extra inches so you can do a 45 degree miter cut at home; measure the wood and cut accordingly. Ultimately, it is your preference as to how you want the end of the railing to look.
If you are using a wooden railing, it is easier to paint it or stain it before you mount it on the wall. If you are using a metal railing, you may want to buff it out before installing it on the wall. It is best to prep the handrail, no matter what material you are going to use, before you mount it to the wall.
To make sure your railing will be installed straight, it is a good idea to cut a piece of wood to the height of your railing and use the wood to mark the same height on the wall at each stud. You can also use a chalk line to indicate where the railing will be installed. Either way, just make sure you are at an equal height from the steps for the entire length of the railing.
Use a power drill or electric screwdriver to mount the brackets to the wall studs, using the hardware included with the brackets. Read any directions that come with the bracket as they could be helpful. You could use a screwdriver to attach the brackets to the wall stud but as you are going to run the screws through the wall and into the 2-by-4 wall stud, a power drill will make it a whole lot easier.
You may need someone to help you hold the rail in place while you attach the rail to the brackets. The rail is lighter to hold than the rail and attached brackets, that is why we attached the brackets to wall first, and then attached the rail to the brackets. Loosely screw into the railing with the bracket hardware at all bracket locations. Once you have the railing in place, check your alignment and if everything looks great, tighten each screw to secure the railing to the bracket.
Check the railing for splinters, sharp edges or any other problems. If you have small children, you may want to add plastic end caps to prevent injuries.
Children have been known to bump their little heads on the ends of the handrail so make sure the edges are smooth and rounded. You can use 90-second epoxy to install plastic end caps if necessary.
It’s always a good idea to consult a professional such as Beach City Stairs before taking on a project like this. Handrail Installations like these require you to be very exact with measurements and can be very frustrating to do.