Install a stairway hand rail by measuring out and marking the mounting locations, mounting the brackets that hold the rail, cutting the rail ends and attaching returns using wood glue and a nail before painting or staining. Perform a final check to ensure the railing is level and secure the hand rail to the mounting brackets with screws.
Achieve the correct hand rail placement by using a 4-foot long level stood on its end on the first step. Make a mark on the level indicating the top of the second step. Mark the intended bracket height and handrail height on the level. Use the marks on the level as guides and place markings on the wall for the top and bottom of the hand rail. Create a chalk line, using the level as a straight edge, connecting the two sets of hand rail markings.
Use a stud finder to locate wall studs at the bottom, middle and top of the staircase. Drill pilot holes for the mounting brackets along the chalk line, and then screw the brackets to the wall studs. Cut a hand rail to the required length with 45-degree mitered cuts at each end. Attach returns to each end of the hand rail using wood glue and nails. After priming and painting or staining the hand rail, allow it to dry and screw the hand rail to the mounting brackets to complete the installation.