New Hand Rail for Our Deck Made Out of Conduit

2 Materials
We needed to replace our railing, so we finally came up with a design we liked and wasn't overly pricey. {It ended up being pricey lol} But we love it's chunky design and the coduit has held up well!
This was the boring railing before
We used 6x6 posts for the chunky appeal to match our log cabin rustic feel.
It was a tad nerve wracking for me, as heights are not my favorite!
I made a template so the rails would all be the uniform.
I could not WAIT to stain it!
I have a cat pen under my deck so my cats can get outside safely!
The absolute hardest part was figuring out those step rails. UGH, hope I never have to do that again!
*** UPDATE*** After receiving many comments about the code violation, I will admit that I honestly do not know if it is against code in this area. I also wasn't thinking about little ones - my bad! I do NOT pick style over safety, and for that matter, I would not leave a little one alone on a deck regardless of vertical or horizontal. I do realize accidents happen. So again, MY BAD. If this post is offensive to people, I apologize, but please don't make it seem that I am a heartless person that only cares about the design and not the safety. I do not have any little ones around and just wasn't thinking about that aspect. And if you want to know the real truth, I have dogs, and I was more concerned about how far to space the rails so they would not get out or jump off. So now you might think I care more about animals than little people. Not true, just what my concerns were at the time of building.

Suggested materials:

  • Conduit
  • 6x6 posts

Frequently asked questions

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  9 questions
  • Sa Sa on May 10, 2016
    Wow!! Looks great! How does the cost compare to using cable? We want to do something like this but cannot spend a fortune.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 10, 2016
      @Sa The conduit is so cheap compared to the cable - plus with the cable, you need those connectors, which if I remember correctly was going to add up to a lot! Don't get me wrong, we still ended up spending alot, but it was quite a savings.

  • Janet Bawcutt Janet Bawcutt on May 10, 2016
    Can you tell me what conduit is? It looks great and would solve the deck railing issue as we can't put the open posts anymore and we want to see the lake without the obstructed view of railings at narrow intervals.

  • Pat4085353 Pat4085353 on May 10, 2016
    How did you secure your 6x6 post to the deck floor.? Also noticed that you placed metal brackets under the base of the 6x6 post. Where to get the metal bracket for base and what are they called?

    • Vic5721479 Vic5721479 on May 10, 2016
      I am not the Author but we used these also for a deck project of ours, the bases are called a Galvanized half base, used for mounting square posts to a platform. I got mine at Home Depot. They work great.

    • Pat4085353 Pat4085353 on May 10, 2016
      Thank you so much for rsvp! I had my deck replaced 2 years ago and the post were just secured with deck screws. Of course that isn't strong enough to lean on and is weakening over time. I have asked all around without a satisfactory solution to the problem. Thanks to you and this article it looks like you solved my problem! I'm heading out to Home Depot! 😊

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 10, 2016
      Yes it's a half base. It is not the best option .. I think the best would be to have the posts go up through the deck. But it is fairly sturdy.

    • Jeannie Jeannie on May 10, 2016
      We, too, have a log home. Our codes are not like the city either. Love, love the look!

  • Delores Snellen Delores Snellen on May 10, 2016
    Does this pass code regulations though?

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 10, 2016
      @Delores Snellen Not sure what the code regulations are?? oops.

    • Claudette Claudette on May 19, 2016
      Code regulations are rules to respect for construction. The tracks are nices but the rails laid horizontally are dangerous for children who can climb.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 19, 2016
      Yes, we are aware.... there has been a whole lot of discussion regarding this topic on this post. We actually believe it is not against code in my area.

    • Mickie Perian Mickie Perian on May 24, 2016
      I do commercial rails for a living and I can tell you the ladder effect is not a code violation. My company does S.S. cable rail systems and those are spaced on 3" centers typically so that through stretching a small child cannot get their head stuck between them. In virtually all parts of the country commercial rails are required to be 42" high while some municipalities only require 36" for residential. Looks like you have 36" high rails with conduit on 6" centers. Conduit probably does not meet the 200 lb per linial ft lateral load required in commercial but again that may not apply for residential. So as far as I can tell by the pictures is the 6" centers on the conduit may be the only true code violation.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 24, 2016
      Mickie Perian Thank you for the info!! I believe our posts are 38" high plus the thickness of the rail. Haha, bet you don't hear that number too often - I don't even know how I came up with that height - obvious DIYer, huh? I'm not sure what you mean about 6" centers - do you mean 6" between each rail? I don't think there is that much --- I was worried about my little dog getting through, as my old cocker ( who has now passed on) used to jump off no matter what I did. So, this cocker is smaller, and I wanted to make sure he couldn't get through. As for the 200lb max - I doubt very highly each rail would hold 200 lbs. I cut each individual rail and then drilled the hole that it slips into about 2" deep. It was a time consuming task. But worth it to me. Thanks so much for the help! I will have to measure them - just for my own knowledge... there isn't anything I can do about it now!!! lol

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 24, 2016
      @Mickie Perian, one other thing.... I was trying to emulate the cable rail system without the expense, plus the fact that I didn't have much knowledge about it. I love that look!

    • Minor Minor on Jun 21, 2018

      Code in my area requires 4” centers on the railings

  • What size conduit did you use and did you cut them to length by section? How has it weathered? Did you also consider using coated cable?

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 10, 2016
      I think I used 1/2". I cut each pipe for each section. It was a process! Coated cable was much more expensive. The conduit was $2.30 for a 10' pole. It has weathered good so far {knock on wood}

  • Puppymom Puppymom on May 10, 2016
    How did you figure step rails?

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 10, 2016
      ahhhhhhh, this was such a problem. The rails on the railing stayed vacant for a week or so as I tried to figure it out. And I couldn't.... The underside of one of the rails has many holes in it from trial and error. Each time I thought I had it figured out, it was wrong. I finally ran a line down the middle of the bottom of the top rail and top of the bottom rail and did some measuring. I think I ended up getting VERY lucky! I think they need to design a jig for it!! and believe me, I asked all the Home Depot guys if there was such a thing - they all laughed at the crazy blonde lady.

  • Lainey Howell Lainey Howell on May 13, 2016
    I wondered, in your design, why you switched from horizontal to vertical for the steps? It seems it would have been easier to continue the horizontal spacing. It looks wonderful. I love a good mountain cabin! Especially when it considers the fur babies. As for kiddos, this railing looks a lot like the commercial ones. It would be interesting to compare spacing with those! Love your deck.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 13, 2016
      Good question, Lainey Howell.... let me explain. The two bottom posts at the bottom of the stairs were kept since they are cemented in. As it turned out ,when we added the top railing, we didn't take into account the difference in height from the old railing. so when we bridged the old post at the bottom and the new post on the deck, that section wasn't square. the height at the bottom of that section was different than the height at the top of that section. It's hard to explain, but if we had put the rails horizontal, there is no way it would look even - it was definitely noticeable. There were other things we learned along the way - or rather, after it was too late, that we would have changed. It's always a learning experience each time one does a new project.

    • Lainey Howell Lainey Howell on May 14, 2016
      Sit still looks great. I know many people who would l o v e to have a deck like that! If time and budget allowed, and simply for aesthetics, I would have dug the bottom posts out and evened it all out. But I can surely understand what you left it as is -- it's functional, it looks good, and 99 out of 100 people wouldn't even notice! Great job.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on May 14, 2016
      Thanks, Lainey!! :) Always learning.... most of the time, as I go.. lol

  • Jdbuild Jdbuild on Aug 16, 2020

    Looks great! How did you get the conduit in between the posts after the posts were already set (I'm assuming the conduit is longer than the opening)? Drill the hole a little bigger on one side so it could slide in from an angle? Does it bend to work it in there?

  • Mary Hughley Mary Hughley on Mar 28, 2021

    have you had any rust so far on the EMT tubes?

Comments

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  • Jay7078090 Jay7078090 on Apr 07, 2017
    I am not sure what the code Violation is as long as the spacing of the poles is 4" or less then that meets code. I am not sure how you connected the post to the deck structure . I would have notched the deck boards and installed the post to the Floor joist with bolts and also add a simpson post tie to it also to make sure that it was extra strong. That is the only thing that I see that I would have done. I really like the idea I might have painted the piping black maybe but if you wanted it really maintenance free over the years I would have done exactly what you did

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on Apr 09, 2017
      Thank you! We drilled out holes on the 6x6's to insert the pipes. I do worry that over time, they might be too difficult to remove if needed. I don't exactly remember now, but I do know we used those simpson ties of some type and used bolts from underneath. As for the black - I was told NOT to but have heard others say that it would have worked. And I think we are in code as far as the distance. People don't like that a toddler could climb up the rails - understandable. Thanks for your response!!

  • Caryn Jackson Caryn Jackson on Oct 20, 2019

    I am interested in trying this. His have the emt pipes held up? Any rust or bending?

    • See 1 previous
    • Caryn Jackson Caryn Jackson on Oct 20, 2019

      Thanks for the quick response! I’ve been nervous too given the less than positive things said about the use of emt outside. I’ve been leaning toward doing it anyway with a “what the heck” but your response has given me lots more confidence. Thank you!!!

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