DIY Simple Stair Handrails

Updated February 21, 2017

Stair handrails are an important part of any home. Having a handrail installed in your staircase will increase the safety of the stairs and make it easier for those with physical limitations to move up and down the staircase. Although there are ways to create fancy handrails for your staircase, a simple handrail will do the job just as well. Installing a simple stair handrail yourself is easy; it just requires measuring, cutting and mounting the rail.

Use a stud finder to find the studs in the wall above the stairs. Once each stud is located, place a piece of masking tape approximately 36 inches above the stairs on the stud. Mark the tape with a pencil.

With a mitre saw, cut a 45 degree mitre on the end of the handrail. The cut angle should face toward the wall when finished.

Place the handrail on the stairs with the 45 degree cut angle touching the flooring beneath the bottom step. The rail should touch the front of each of the stair treads on the stairs. Use a pencil to mark where the railing touches the stair nose of the top stair.

Cut a 45 degree angle on the mark for the top of the railing. This angle should face outward, away from the wall.

Enlist the help of one or two people to help mark where the railing should be placed. Have two people hold the railing in place at the 36 inch mark. While they are holding the railing, use a pencil to trace on the tape where the underside of the railing will be. The marks on the railing will be slanted.

Place the rail bracket in place, with the high point touching the middle of the line on the tape. Use the bracket as a template to mark where the screw holes should be placed.

Use a 1/8-inch drill bit to drill pilot holes for the screw holes. Remove the masking tape from the wall. Screw the bracket in place with rail bracket screws. Angle the screws inward to make sure you hit the stud in the wall. Repeat. Each handrail should have three brackets securing it to the wall.

Place the railing on the brackets. Have someone hold the railing in place while you screw in the strap provided for the bracket. Do this with all three bracket straps.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Wooden handrail
  • Mitre saw
  • Rail brackets and straps
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Rail bracket screws
  • Screwdriver
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About the Author

Cadence Johansen is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about travel, marriage, family relationships, caregiver support, home improvement and money. Johansen has been writing professionally since 2008. She holds a master's degree in family studies from Utah State University.