How Do You Install Handrails on a Stairway?

Installing a handrail on a stairway requires intermediate carpentry skills and the process involves measuring and cutting the handrail according to the length of the stairway, securing handrail brackets and installing the handrail on the brackets. Before starting the project, check the local building code requirements for handrails to make sure that the handrail will be compliant.

The following shows the basic steps in installing handrails on stairways.

  1. Measure and purchase the rail
  2. Take measurements of the stairway and purchase a handrail that is 2 feet longer than the stairway. Handrail brackets and a 90-second glue will also be required for this project.
  3. Mark the spots
  4. Take measurements along the stairway where the handrail will go, and mark the spots with a chalk or a tape. Locate the studs with a stud finder and mark the stud locations.
  5. Cut corners
  6. Cut a 45-degree miter on the bottom end of the rail, and then lay the handrail on the stairway. Mark the other end of the rail at the point where it meets the nose of the top stair. Cut a 16-degree angle on the top rail section mark.
  7. Join sections
  8. Connect the rail sections with a 90-second epoxy.
  9. Connect the brackets and the handrail
  10. Install the top and the bottom brackets into the studs and then attach the handrail on the two brackets. Install the other brackets along the length of the handrail.
  11. Attach the returns
  12. Attach the returns on the ends of the handrail and then apply the preferred finish for the handrail.