How to Install Boat Handrails

Updated February 21, 2017

Owning a boat offers many benefits, but it can hide many dangers as well. One of these dangers is the safety of passengers and crew who walk the deck of your vessel. It's important to have the proper handrails available to prevent unwary sailors from falling off the boat. Here's a do-it-yourself project to install boat handrails: stainless steel stanchion and rope hand grips that can help prevent the threat of overboard passengers from becoming a reality.

Measure a length of string to match the distance that you want your handrail stanchions to be separated by. Use the measuring tape to mark the outer edge of the boat's deck with marks that indicate the correct location of the centre of each stanchion.

Attach each hand grip stanchion with an eyelet top and threaded base so that each stanchion is put together, but not yet attached to the boat. Remove one base from a stanchion and place it where it should go according to the marks on the boat's deck edge.

Activate your epoxy and resin putty so that it is ready to be used to set the base onto the boat's surface. Make sure you use equal amounts of epoxy and resin. The stanchion should point upward in a natural angle once in place.

Wrap two screws per base with Teflon tape. Using the screw ports on each base, secure the base to the boat's body by driving the screws into the boat through the putty that is currently securing the base to the boat. This will prevent any damage done by the screws that have not been filled and protected by epoxy or Teflon. Allow this to cure for at least 24 hours.

Complete the project by attaching all stanchions to the bases and running the marine rope through each post's eyelet so that it can provide that portion of deck with a new hand grip protection system, which will prevent many slips or falls on deck.


Choose the correct height of the stanchion to fit your boat. The 36-inch height of the stanchions listed here may not be the correct height for you. Measure the proper height before purchasing any parts. Many of these stanchion hand grips for boats will have tops that include lighting. These types of upgrades make a difference on larger-decked boats that do not otherwise have access to lights.


The epoxy can be hazardous to your health. Epoxy, resin glues and sealants should always be used with care. Attach the stanchion bases with screws and run the screw through the epoxy, then into the boat. Also be sure that the length of screw is the correct length to fit your needs.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 1/4-inch by 36-inch stainless steel stanchions, threaded ends (1 for every 48 inches deck edge)
  • Base ID 1 3/4-inch stainless steel threaded base, female receptor (1 per stanchion)
  • Top ID 1 3/4-inch stainless steel threaded top, female receptor w/ eyelet (1 per post)
  • 3/4-inch marine rope, length of rail
  • Epoxy and resin putty
  • Measuring string
  • Tape ruler
  • Teflon tape
  • Galvanised screws, 2 1/2 inches
  • Screwdriver
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About the Author

Giselle Diamond is a freelance writer and has been writing since 1999. Diamond is experienced in writing in all genres and subjects, with distinguished experience in home and garden, culture and society, literature and psychology. Diamond has a Master of Arts in English and psychology from New York University. Diamond has articles published on both eHow and LiveStrong.