How to install a stair rail on outdoor steps

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether the exterior stairway you want a railing by is wood or concrete, you may be wondering how to mount a railing with no nearby walls. In fact, you can mount a railing directly to the stairway's surface using a railing with base plates. These railings come in a variety of styles and can be used on your front stoop stairway or on deck stairs. Remember, the railing must be at least 36 inches from the ground and the posts should not be mounted more than 12 feet from each other.

Flip the railing upside down and find the tabs where the posts fit against it. Attach one of the posts to the railing with the supplied bolt and nut. Use a socket wrench to partly tighten the nut. Connect the second post in the same way.

Place the railing on the stairs so each post rests on a step. If you are mounting the railing on wooden deck stairs, align the screw holes in the post bracket -- the piece that will be secured to the step -- with the wooden joist running up, underneath the side of the stairs.

Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the bracket to the edge of the stairs. Make sure each bracket is the same distance away so the railing appears straight. Trace around each bracket with a piece of chalk.

Use a hammer drill for concrete stairs or a regular drill for wooden stairs. Drill a pilot hole through each of the bracket's screw holes. For concrete stairs, read the manufacturer's directions to determine the size of bit needed to make the pilot holes. Make the pilot holes 1/2 inch deep and remove the railing to finish the holes. On wooden stairs, use a 1/8-inch drill bit.

Finish drilling the pilot holes on the concrete steps, using a hammer drill. Make them about 1/2 inch longer than the supplied anchoring bolts. As you complete each hole, use your hand or a small broom to brush the dust away from the hole. Skip this step if you have wooden stairs.

Line up the brackets' screw holes with the pilot holes. Insert an anchoring bolt into a pilot hole. Tap it all the way down, using a hammer. Repeat with the remaining anchoring bolts and pilot holes. If you are mounting your railing to wooden stairs, use a drill and Phillips driving bit to drive a provided screw through each bracket screw hole and pilot hole to secure the post in place.

Tighten the anchoring bolts, using a socket wrench, for a railing mounted on concrete stairs. Do not over-tighten the bolts or they could snap off. Finish tightening the nuts holding the railing to the posts.


If you mount your railing onto uneven stairs, use washers as shims to lift the low side and level the bracket. Insert the washers between the step and the bracket.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket wrench
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk
  • Hammer drill or drill
  • Masonry bit or 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Broom
  • Hammer
  • Phillips driving bit
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