How to Build a Bannister on a Deck

Updated July 20, 2017

If your existing deck does not have a rail system, it may feel like the space is a little too open. If you want the deck to feel like a cosy outdoor area, consider installing a banister. The banister, or balustrade, is a series of posts between a top and bottom rail. When they are built, they look like small ladders. These ladders are then installed on the deck between a series of main posts. Not only do balusters make the deck feel more intimate, but they add a level of safety if you have small children.

Begin with the main posts for the deck. Take one of the 2 by 4s and create a notch at the bottom. The notch will make it look like half of the post is missing at the bottom. This missing portion will then fit flush over the deck joist. To create the notch, measure the length and width at the bottom of the post that must be taken out. Then use a circular saw to cut the area out.

Fit the post onto the deck joist and make sure it is flush and level. Attach the post by drilling two holes though the bottom of the post and into the joist. Secure the post by placing bolts through the holes and tightening them. Repeat steps 1 and 2 at each corner of the existing deck. Also add these posts between the corner posts. The number of posts is up to you. The more posts you add, the smaller the balusters will be.

Start building the baluster sections. Measure the distance between each of the main posts on the deck. Then create a bottom and top rail out of 2 by 4s that are the same length.

Create the balusters that will go between the top and bottom 2 by 4 rails. These balusters can be bought to the length and width that you want or you can also make balusters to a desired length from 2 by 4s using a table saw.

Take one finished baluster and attach it to the end of the bottom rail. Drill a hole through the bottom of the rail and into the baluster. Then secure the baluster to the rail with a screw.

Add the rest of the balusters. Use a wood block as a spacer between each baluster tol ensure that they are evenly spaced. Drill a hole through the bottom of the rail and into the bottom of each baluster. Secure with screws. Continue doing this until you reach the end of the bottom rail.

Connect the top rail to the top of the balusters. Drill holes through the top of the rail and into the top of each baluster. Continue until each baluster is secured. The finished results should look like a ladder.

Take the finished balustrade and fit it between two of the main posts. Place a series of wooden spacers on the top of the deck between the main posts. Rest the balustrade on these spacers to ensure that it is the appropriate height off the ground.

Drill two holes through the end of the balustrade at the top and bottom and into each post. Secure the balustrade into the posts with lag screws Repeat the entire process for the rest of the sections between the main posts.


Wear gloves whenever working with wood. Also, it is important to wear safety goggles when using a drill or table saw.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood 2 by 4s
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Lag screws
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Wood spacers
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About the Author

James J. Siegel is a journalist with over ten years of experience. He graduated from Bowling Green State University and works as an editor for a trade magazine. His freelance work has appeared in San Francisco Apartment Magazine and