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Repair Your Deck Railing and Stairs

Welcome to the south where from May to September we are graced by full sun and heat from about 6:00 a.m.- 7:30 p.m. Since our deck faces east it has taken a BEATING! We had no idea how expensive decks were to build and that maintenance and repair of our deck was so important.
Time: 2 Weeks Difficulty: Advanced
We never sealed our deck and if we power washed it, that only happened a handful of times, I know, rookie move! Current standards suggest once per year as well as sealing the wood with a waterproofer at least.
Here's our deck in May, looking scary and the stairs were wobbly! Last year we noticed some rot on the stair railing and loose spindles and in a blink of an eye the spindles could be pulled off with one hand and the guard rail was about half of it's original size. The stair treads were lifting and warping, had nails protruding out, they were a hazard!
My husband helped with a lot of the demolition of the deck, actually it was more like a deconstruction because we were saving the posts and stringers so we had to be careful removing the stair treads, railing, etc. I have a few tips on the subject if you plan to do the same in a short video on YouTube with a link on my blog.
Next it was time to tackle new stair treads. With 15 stair treads to cut and attach I thought it would look better and more efficient if the replacement stair treads were wider, like the full depth leaving me to cut and attach 15 rather than 30 boards if we had stayed with the 6" deck boards.
Of course I didn't want to assume that was o.k. so I asked around and what I learned was that it's very common now to use a 2x12 for stair treads. When considering the length of the board to purchase, I opted to get the 8 foot boards, our existing stair treads measure 42" wide, so I could yield two stairs per board, only needing 8 total. That was doable, easier to transport plus much easier for me to move and cut, the 2x12x8 boards weigh almost as much as me!
I attached each new stair tread to a stringer with 3 3" deck screws.
For the new railing I added a 2x4 to the inside of the posts rather than the center of the 4x4 post. The guardrail and/or handrail would normally be added right after this but I was still deciding whether to keep the 4x4 posts at the top of our stairs and the posts around the deck railing. Additionally, when building a new deck, "code" recommends/requires a handrail separate from the guardrail so be sure to check for your specific location.
I have an overstock warehouse in my area, Loading Dock South. They sell spindles for about .60 each I believe. If you don't have an overstock warehouse nearby you can pick these up at any Home Depot or Lowe's for a little more than $1.00 each. It was lucky for me to get them so discounted since we had about 100 spindles to replace!
I was very anxious about replacing the spindles, I knew that I would obsess over attaching them evenly and straight without taking forever. So again my awesome brother in law shared his process to ease my anxiety and now I'll share with you.
For the rest of the story please visit my blog which includes links to two helpful YouTube video's with several more tips and me a hot mess building this railing!

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Ask the creator about this project

  • Hannah V
    Hannah V Brooklyn, NY
    on Jul 1, 2015

    WOW no small task! You did a great job.

  • Kelly B
    Kelly B Dover, DE
    on Jul 6, 2015


  • Robin Robertson
    Robin Robertson United Kingdom
    on Jul 6, 2015

    Wow, well done! Very impressed indeed!

  • Lorraine Castellon-Rowe
    Lorraine Castellon-Rowe Stockton, CA
    on Jul 6, 2015

    AWESOME!!! It looks very professional and so much better. You did an amazing job and should be very proud of yourself!! Thanks for sharing all your tips with us!

  • Holly Prim
    Holly Prim Birmingham, AL
    on Jul 6, 2015

    Thank you all for the kind and encouraging words! It has been a labor of love to say the least! I started the project thinking it would be a quick repair job. It's a deck, so no finishing work, all of the boards are basically the same size, etc. Well I didn't account for all of the reinforcing and replacing the most basic parts. I am just now finishing the railing upstairs and have even made my own deck post caps :-) They are really cute!

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