Repair Your Deck Railing and Stairs

Holly Prim
by Holly Prim
4 Materials
2 Weeks
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.
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!
Holly Prim
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  3 questions
  • Bevie Bevie on Feb 13, 2018
    Love the color that you painted your deck. What make and color is it?

  • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Feb 13, 2018
    I LOVE your deck. In fact, I love it so much I wondered if you snuck into our back yard and took pictures.  We had ours completely rebuild two years ago due to fear of falling through the old one.  We enlarged it and added some angles, but still extremely similar to yours. I, too, am curious as to the paint you used. We used composite boards for the main part, but wood railings. Ours is a southern exposure. We sanded and prepped our wood prior to painting. We were told we could paint the cedar but to wait a year on the treated posts, which we have done. However, we have some blisters along the railings and the cedar siding paint is peeling. Painted the railings in the shade and thought we did all the right things according to directions from paint company. Their rep even came out and said they would replace the paint because it didn't seem right. We still have to paint the underneath that extends over the walkout portion of the basement and I am rather gun shy. I just want to make certain the next time is the charm. Did you use paint or stain? I love to paint but not the same area repeatedly. The brick and paint color you have are elegant together. Great job! Thanks for any help you might offer.

  • Leslie Leslie on Jul 03, 2020

    Hi Holly, What a wonderful job you did on the stairs thank you for sharing. I used the button above to get to your blog site but it kept directing me somewhere else and when I put in the addy you provided in your heading it went to the same place not even sure what to call it. Can you provide a good link to your blog please? Thank you for taking the time to answer.

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  • Joanie Joanie on Mar 15, 2019

    Great job.......and it looks wonderful!!!

  • Linda Linda on Sep 18, 2020

    Yup, maintenance is everything. Too bad we don't all do it!  Anyway, great job and terrific paint color! I wish you many more happy times on your deck.