How to Fix a Handrail

Updated February 21, 2017

Handrails offer added support and safety while ascending or descending stairs, ramps or platforms. A wobbly or broken handrail can pose a serious safety issue, and should be repaired immediately to avoid causing injury. Fixing a handrail yourself may sound challenging, but with the right tools and a little time, the task should go smoothly. Follow a few simple steps to fix a handrail.

Remove the screws on the brackets that still fully secure the handrail to the wall anchors, using a screwdriver. Detach the handrail and set it aside. Then, remove the bracket still attached to the loose or broken anchor.

Find the stud in the area of the wall where the broken anchor was mounted. Insert the end of a copper wire with a 90-degree angle into one of the anchor holes on the wall to locate the stud. Push the copper wire into the wall and turn it until you feel the wire hit the stud.

Mark the location of the end of the stud on the wall, using a carpenter's pencil. Use a tape measure to measure out an additional 1 ½ inches from your original mark and make a second mark to cover the full length of the stud. Divide that measurement by two and make a new mark on the wall between the first and second measurements. You will use this mark as a guide for your new anchor mounting.

Mark the ends of the stud with two vertical lines on the wall. Check the lines with a torpedo level to make sure they are straight. Position a new anchor between the two lines drawn on the wall. Mark the anchor holes on the wall with the carpenter's pencil. Using your drill, drill pilot holes along your marks.

Insert the screws through the pilot holes and into the wall by hand, holding the anchor firmly against the wall. Use the drill to finish securing the screws to the wall. Then, replace the handrail back on the wall by reattaching it to the original brackets. Screw the brackets to the original, unmoved anchors and to the handrail, using a screwdriver.

Position a bracket over the replacement anchor you just installed, once the handrail is in place. Mark the bracket screw-mounting points onto the handrail. Use your drill to drill pilot holes along those marks and into the handrail. Use a screwdriver to screw the bracket to the anchor. Secure the opposite end of the bracket to the handrail by screwing in screws through the pilot holes and tightening them by hand.

Dip strips of mesh drywall tape in water putty. Once the strips are saturated with the putty, push the tape into each hole. Scoop out extra water putty with a putty knife and spread it over the hole to patch it over fully. Allow the water putty to dry fully.

Use primer, according to the manufacturer's instructions, to prime over the patch. Allow the primer to dry. Pick out a paint colour that matches the colour of the wall and paint it over the primer. Allow the paint to dry fully.


Find an assistant to help you attach and detach the handrail more safely and easily.


Always wear safety gloves when working with hand and power tools to prevent injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Torpedo level
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Bent copper wire
  • Mesh drywall tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Screws
  • Water putty
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