How To Build Deck Railing

Deck railing is an important part of deck building because it provides the structure to mount, protect and hold any kind of railings while adding visual appeal. Deck railing can be made with a variety of materials, but here are some alternatives in case you don’t want to invest quite as much time or money into your project.

Deck railing can be a great addition to your home. The “simple deck railing designs” are easy to build and don’t require many materials.

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Even if your backyard deck is on a lower level, adding a deck railing adds added protection. It also provides the deck an unique and defined look. You need to know the right constructing stages whether you’re adding a railing to an already existing low deck or upgrading railing.

A DIY deck railing project also allows you to customize it to your preferences. New DIYers sometimes have trouble figuring out how to construct deck railing that is both structurally solid and compliant with local building requirements. 

If a deck is taller than 30 inches from the ground, it must have a deck railing. The height of a deck rail must be at least 36 inches. A 4′′ sphere cannot pass through any point in the inner rail section, even beneath the bottom rail to the decking.


You may start deciding on a style for your deck railing now that you know what you want. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of building a deck railing. 

What is the Procedure for Installing Deck Railings?

We’ll show you how to install a basic wood deck railing to a deck that has already been constructed. Deck railing projects may seem hard to a new builder, but this is typically a mistake, as you can create a simple yet stylish deck railing with basic carpentry skills and the right instruction. Here’s how to construct a deck railing:

Design and Plan


Any project’s success is inextricably linked to its planning. The following crucial aspects would be included in a deck railing design:

  • The deck railing’s design
  • The deck railing’s total size

Before moving on to the design process, you may figure out these specifics on a piece of paper. 

Designs aid in the conversion of raw data into sketches and drawings in planning. Details like deck rail height, length, and breadth are anticipated to be addressed throughout the design process. It’s also where you express your own style and vision. 


Take accurate measurements and gather all necessary materials.

To take the real measurements, pay attention to the specifics in your design process. Not only will this help you get a better idea of what you’re working on, but it will also give you an idea of how much material you’ll need. Get all of the supplies and construction equipment you’ll need for the job. Here are some of the tools you’ll need for this project:

  • Drilling power
  • Miter saws are used to cut miter joints.
  • saw with a circular blade
  • Jig saw
  • Clamps
  • Measurement tape
  • pencil

To finish your project, you’ll also need the following items:

  • 4x4x8 posts that have been pressure treated
  • 2x4x8 rails that have been pressure treated
  • 2x2x8 balusters that have been pressure treated
  • a rail cap that has been pressure treated at a rate of 26% (length depends on how wide your railing is)
  • Screws for structural purposes
  • For blocking, use 2x pressure-treated wood.
  • screws for decks
  • clips for deck rails

Keeping the Posts Safe

The deck railing is only as robust as the posts it is attached to. This is the most crucial component of constructing your deck railing. Determine where you want your deck’s posts to go. Deck railing posts should not be more than 6 feet apart, and if feasible, should be aligned with a joist for further strength. Your posts will be set within the rim of your deck.

It’s critical!!! Do not notch or place your railing posts on the outside of your deck rim joist. It’s how it used to be done, but it’s been shown to be ineffective. Below is a nice image from the finehomebuilding.com website that depicts our construction approach.

You will need to take up the deck boards where your post will be located. You should take up several boards around the post. Cut your post for a height of 36″ + rim joist depth. Clamp post to rim joist, next to the joist. You’ll screw the Screws for structural purposes through the rim joist to the post as well as through the joist to the post.

Once those are secure, place a piece of wood blocking between the two joists next to the post. This last piece of blocking will completely in case the railing post and make it very secure. An alternative to Screws for structural purposes for the posts is to use a 1/2″x8″ carriage bolt long enough to go through rim joist, post and back blocking piece.

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Side railings should be attached.

You may now connect your side rails to your rail posts. Using a deck rail clip is the most secure method. There are numerous to pick from, and it all depends on the appearance you want to achieve. The Simpson Strong-Tie clip is less costly and may be disguised, while the DeckoRail clip is black but much more expensive.

Measure the distance between your posts, then cut your 2×4 boards to that length. For the bottom rail, place your side rail on top of a 2×4 cut off piece to make your height 3.5 inches from the deck. Mark the rail’s location with your pencil and then screw your clips for deck rails to your post. Slide your rail into the clips and secure to the clips with screws.

To make your top rail flush with the deck post, repeat the procedures above. Before attaching the side rails, make sure they are all level.

Vertical Balusters should be attached

Once you’ve calculated how many you’ll need between posts, the 22 vertical balusters are straightforward to affix to your side deck rail. For example, suppose the distance between your two posts is precisely 6 feet. Remember that your balusters can’t have a gap of more than 4 inches between them.

Because your balusters are 1.5 inches wide and you desire a spacing of less than 4 inches, we’ll suggest 3.5. Divide 72 by 5, and you’ll have around 14 balusters. I prefer to alter the spacing of my balusters by laying them down on top of my bottom rail.

Measure the distance between the top rail and bottom rail to cut your balusters. To make the balusters last longer, cut the bottom of the baluster at a 30-45 degree angle to help with water drainage. Use two 2.5 inch long screws for decks to attach the baluster to top and bottom rails. Make sure the baluster is level vertically before attaching the 2nd screw.

Top Rail

The top rail is the final section of your deck rail to be installed. I’ve previously used 5/4 decking since the edges are already rounded, but a 2x railing is superior because it won’t twist or warp as much. To span the length of your rail, you’ll probably need to cut two sections.

Instead of using a butt joint, you’ll use a scarf cut to link the two top rail boards. When two boards are cut at 45 degrees and attach on top of one other, it’s called a scarf junction. Every 8-10 inches, secure your top rail with screws through the top rail below.

Remember to choose pressure-treated timber since it can endure the elements and insects, extending the life of the deck rail. 

You may customize the construction after it’s finished by painting or staining it to your taste. Maintain the railing by pressure cleaning it on a regular basis.


Deck railing is a terrific way to add visual appeal to your deck, even if it’s only a ground level deck, and it’s also a required safety element for decks taller than 30 inches. It’s important to remember that constructing a deck railing begins with firmly secured posts.

This is the most difficult aspect, but it is well worth it to have a long-lasting deck railing. Hopefully, we’ve shown how to construct a safe deck rail that you’ll be glad to display.


Deck railing ideas are a great way to add a little something extra to your deck. This article provides some 2×4 deck railing ideas that you can use for your next project.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you build a deck railing on an existing deck?

A: There are a variety of ways to build railing on an existing deck. Some people use stairs, others use floor joists and rafter tails as handrails. Each one is different depending on the situation, but in general you will need to have some sort of support for the railing that is being built so it does not move or collapse under its own weight.

How do I build a cheap deck railing?

A: You will need to purchase a railing kit that comes with all the components you would need. If your deck is made of wood or another material, then it should come pre-assembled so there are no extra steps needed. There are also three ways to install your new railings on the ground at the bottom of your stairs for instance.

How do you build a basic deck railing?

A: You will need four pieces of wood that are the same size. Each piece needs to be the width of your railing, or twice as wide if you want a double-rail fence. Next, youll need three 2x4s that are each 36 inches long and another two with 12 inches in length for braces on top. Finally, use eight 3 1/2 inch screws total to connect all these pieces together into one unit complete with posts and railings in between them!

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