Most of us have been there before. Perhaps you have bought your first house and as winter approaches you realize that steps in the front yard are going to be dangerous when covered with ice and snow. Perhaps an elderly parent is having difficulty traversing stairs and needs the comfort of sturdy hand rail on either side of his entryway. Perhaps the insurance company has asked you to put railing up in order to be insurable. What can you do?
For years most home owners have been reluctant to tackle metal railing installation. They usually settle for wooden railings or employ railing professionals. These haven’t always been satisfying solutions. Wooden railings are often four to six inches wide creating a grab bar that may be too large for small or frail hands. Hiring a professional to install metal railing is often cost prohibitive. In more recent years vinyl railing has come along as an acceptable alternative. Still for many homes the look may clash with the traditional established look of brick and metal work accents.
These issues are now overcome through the use of a new steel railing system that uses adjustable posts. The rise and run of your particular stairs are matched by simply adjusting two or three posts–depending on the length–into a vertical position and locking them into place. A variety of installation methods can be used. Rails can be cemented in the ground next to the stair or ramp. They can be cemented into the slab using a rented core drill. Or they can be anchored onto to the stairs using a hammer drill and anchor bolts. In the case of wooden steps lag bolts can be used. Matching wall rail can also be bolted into drywall, plaster, brick or block using appropriate fasteners. You probably already own most of the tools needed and the whole process of installation often takes less time than the research put in the project.
Consider a few things before undertaking the project. Are there any codes you need to meet for the purposes of liability insurance? You may want to contact your local agent. Take a few measurements and determine the length of rail you might need. The most crucial information is to measure the length from the nose of the top step to the bottom step and also count the number of steps not including the top step/landing. With a little effort you can vastly improve the look and safety of your stairs, ramps, and entryways.