Archive for Monday, June 6, 2011


Fix-It Chick: Install a wrought iron hand rail for safe transport

June 6, 2011


Without a railing, cement steps can be treacherous for young and old alike. Prefabricated wrought iron railings are an inexpensive, simple way to add safety and ambiance to an existing stairway.

Step 1: Measure the area and determine the number of panel sections and newel posts needed to complete the job. Pre-made panels come in 4- and 6-inch sections. They can be cut to size with a hack saw. Ideally, the top section should be mounted directly to the house or existing porch support. Newel posts should each be spaced an equal distance apart, and panel sections should be consistent in length.

Step 2: Begin by mounting the floor flanges into the cement. Place flanges 4 inches back from the edge of each step. Make sure the flanges are properly aligned with each other and mark the screw holes before setting the flanges aside.

Step 3: Use a hammer drill and Tapcon masonry bit to pre-drill the screw holes into each step.

Step 4: Set the flanges in place and use a ratcheting socket wrench to drive hex head Tapcon masonry screws into each hole.

Step 5: Install the newel posts in each flange and check to make sure everything is level.

Step 6: To make the railing pickets parallel with the newel posts upon installation, each panel section must to be slanted to the appropriate angle. Hold the railing upright on a level surface and place both feet on the bottom rail to hold the panel in place. Apply downward and forward pressure to slant the railing section.

Step 7: If necessary, once the panels have been properly slanted, use a hack saw to cut the panels to the desired length.

Step 8: Drill a quarter-inch diameter hole, approximately 7/8” from each end of the top and bottom rails. Be consistent when drilling the holes on each panel section, to assure the railing is properly aligned upon installation.

Step 9: Attach the panel sections to the newel posts and stationary support using appropriately sized angle brackets, bolts and nuts. It may be necessary to use pliers and a hammer to adjust the bracket angle to match the angle of each panel.

Step 10: Add any ornamental adornments and check the railing to make sure it is stable.

Step 11: Protect the railing and camouflage the Tapcon screw heads by applying a top coat of rust-inhibiting paint.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


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