How to install wooden handrails on a deck

Updated February 21, 2017

Installing a handrail around the deck can also make the deck more attractive. The good thing about this installation is that it requires a minimal amount of woodworking ability. As with most woodworking projects, you can make a handrail for a deck as elaborate or as simple as you desire.

Measure the perimeter of the deck and record your findings. Next, divide that number by the length of your timber to determine how many short pieces will need to be cut to fill in the gaps.

Place two rows of the timber around the perimeter to be certain that it fits correctly. These are the top and bottom of the handrail. Starting from one end, make a mark every 40 cm (16 inches). Place the carpenter's square on those marks and draw a line across them. As you go, place an "X" on the side of the mark where the studs will be installed.

Count the number of studs needed and cut them to the desired length with the electric mitre saw. This length will represent the height of your handrail. Be certain to count two studs in the corners to secure the next handrail to it.

Place the studs around the perimeter of the deck where you have marked for them. Secure the studs to the tops and bottoms of the handrail with the deck screws.

Stand one of the handrails up, position it on the desired location of the deck and secure it with the deck screws. Plumb the corners of the handrail along with the ends that attach to the house with a carpenter's level.


Drilling pilot holes for the studs will make the assembly a little easier. As an option, you can use spindles instead of 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) studs.


Countersink the deck screws to avoid possible hand injury later. Do not leave power tools unattended in the presence of children. Wear safety glasses when cutting wood.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) pretreated timber
  • Carpenter's square
  • Electric mitre saw
  • Variable speed drill
  • Phillips head screw tip
  • 5 cm (2 inch) deck screws
  • Carpenter's level
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About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.