Keeping Your Deck Up: Please Don’t Hold the Handrail! Part 1 of 3

Posted by: on June 17th, 2010 | Make A Comment
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The outdoor party season is in full swing and that means all those people who hang out in the kitchen during wintertime parties will now be out on your deck.  Naturally you want it to be clean, attractive and safe.  Here are a few thoughts about some of the common challenges with keeping your deck up to party standards.  If you have to give any of the following cautions to guests at your house check this out.

Please don’t hold the handrail!

Stiffening up the handrail is not really so tuff.  Many times the people who built the deck did not take the time to fasten the handrail posts correctly or adequately.  There are two quick ways to fix wobbly hand rails. 

If you have access to the underside of the deck as a function of its height then this will be a little easier.  Just get some galvanized bolts, washers and nuts.  Drill through the handrail post and through the ring joist (that’s the piece of wood that forms the outer band of the deck.)  Select a galvanized bolt long enough to go through the post (usually a 4×4) and through the ring joist(s).  I like hex bolts vs. carriage bolts because I can put a wrench on both the head of the bolt and the nut to tighten things up.  With a carriage bolt I have to make sure the square shoulder of the bolt grabs the wood and keeps the bolt from turning as I tighten the nut.  That doesn’t always happen and then I get mad.  If you have room I’d suggest two bolts.  Because you can see all the framing under the deck you can add blocking as you need to.

If you don’t have access to the underside of the deck, then use a hex head lag screw and a washer.  Again they will need to be galvanized. The length of the lag should be about ½” less than the thickness of the thickness of the post and ring joist.  This time when you drill the hole you will drill it smaller than the diameter of the lag screw and you don’t want to go all the way through both the ring joist and the hand rail post.  Put the washer on the lag screw and put a little soap on the tip of the lag screw, (makes it easier to drive) get out your socket wrench and have at it.  Drive the lag all the way and you will see how quickly the handrail becomes sturdy again.  Check out our Decking FAQs for more information.

Part 1 - Keeping Your Deck Up: Please don’t hold the handrail!
Part 2 - Keeping Your Deck Up: Don’t go barefoot on the deck!
Part 3 – Keeping Your Deck Up: Soft Carpet? Probably Fungus!

John Gordon is a guest contributer to The Apron.

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