The process of installing a staircase railing involves determining the height and position of the rail, locating the wall studs, installing the mounting brackets and then attaching the railing. Check local building codes before beginning any installation, and make measurements from the nosing of the top landing to the bottom of the stairs; then, add an additional 2 feet to determine the volume of materials needed.
After determining the height of the railing, use a carpenter's level to create a tread line to mark rail height. Subtract the railing and bracket thickness from the desired rail height, and draw a new line on the wall to indicate this new measurement. This new line marks the location for the bottom end of the bracket. Use a carpenter's level to ensure the tread line is properly positioned along the entire length of the staircase.
Locate the wall studs, and then drill pilot holes for the mounting brackets. Secure the brackets to the wall at these locations using wood screws. Residential staircase railings commonly have brackets that are 48 inches apart. Use an assistant to help lift the handrail onto the brackets, and make any adjustments needed to ensure proper positioning before screwing the bracket collar to the underside of the handrail.