Deck Renovation Part 1: Installing A New Railing

June 20, 2017 in DIY Tutorials / Home Design

Out of all the projects we have done the deck has been by far the most labor intensive. When we initially bought the house we figured we would leave it as is and tear it down in a few years and build a brand new one. Upon closer inspection (and a little planning magic) we decided to take it on this spring so we could enjoy it all summer! Structurally the deck is safe and sound but there were a few minor (major!) tweaks that needed to be done to bring it up to speed. You can check out our initial deck design plan here!

The first big project we needed to complete was tearing down the old railing and installing a new one. The old railing was pretty unsafe – the trellis part would literally dissolve into a pile of dust if you kicked through it – and pretty ugly. The top of the railing (the actual rail) was also super warped and uneven. Here is what we started with.

The stair portion of the railing was different though and had horizontal pieces that were in fairly good shape. We decided to go with similar design to tie into that existing railing and save us a little time and money.

To start we decided on a design – horizontal planks. Most decks have vertical planks and these can be beneficial in a few ways – two big examples are that water runs off them well so they stay more dry and kids are less likely to try and climb on them. Horizontal planks are more affordable and easier to install – we went that route! We started by making a cut list for all our lumber. We don’t have a truck and always have to borrow a friend’s (thanks Chet and Kyle!) so we needed to have a good plan so we could do it in one trip. We decided to use some of the existing 4×4 vertical posts and add in a few more and then did 5 horizontal 1×4 planks and then 2×6 planks for the top railing.

We demo’d it in sections because it is about 8-9 feet off of the ground. Once we got our posts in place we used a level, a spacer and a nail gun to hold the planks in place. Once we got all the planks installed we went back with screws to safely secure them. The entire project only took us one afternoon and we were even surprised how quickly we got it done!

Instead of going into huge detail about this project we thought we would leave you with a few tips when building your own deck railing!

Tip #1: Get advice from a professional. If you don’t have any experience in this area definitely don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call and get an estimate on the build or don’t be afraid to ask too many questions to your local Lowe’s guy!

Tip #2: Plan! Plan! Plan! Think about all the pieces of lumber and supplies you will need and give yourself a little wiggle room. Thanks to good planning we got all our supplies in one trip!

Tip #3: Cut as you go. Don’t try and cut to many pieces ahead of time. If your deck is older the measurements won’t be exact. Cut as you go along – you will save yourself time and money!

Tip #4: Use what you have. You only need to replace what is needed and if you plan on painting it after – which we did – it’s ok if the entire railing isn’t perfectly uniform. We salvaged the old vertical 4×4’s and left the stair railing intact.

Tip #5: KISS Method – Keep it simple stupid. We had a bunch of cool designs we found on Pinterest and were about to execute one and decided last minute to stick with a simple design. I’m so glad we did – it turned out so beautiful and a busy design would have detracted from the whole renovation, added an extra headache, and probably delayed our project.

Here is the railing before and after and a sneak peek at it all painted!

(We ended up installing the pergola as an afterthought and had to tear down and reinstall the railing again! Again, plan, plan, plan!)

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1 Comment

  • Reply Our Unbelievable Deck Renovation | the happy camp June 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    […] all started, as all project should, with a good deck renovation plan. We revamped our railing – you can check out the story and some helpful tips! Then we slathered on some paint and deck […]

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