Mount a handrail solidly to a wall
1 of 3
Photo 1: Attach the returns with screws
Position the handrail on the board so the space above the rail and below the brackets is
about the same, spacing the rail evenly from both ends. Drill pilot and countersink holes
and screw through the board into the returns with 2-in. screws.
2 of 3
Photo 2: Screw the board to the studs
Position a strip
of masking tape
parallel to the stairs
with the top edge
located so that the
top of the rail will be
34 to 36 in. above
the stair nosings.
Locate the studs
and mark them on
the tape. Support
the handrail board
on a pair of nails.
Drive a pair of 3-in.
screws into every
3 of 3
Photo 3: Screw the brackets to the board
Complete the job
the brackets and
screwing them to
the board. Use the
with the handrail
Whether you need to add a new
handrail or firm up a wobbly one,
here’s a new handrail hanging method
that’s easy and super strong. The trick
is to mount the handrail to a board first
and then screw the board to the wall.
This eliminates the hassle of trying to
line up the brackets with the studs, and
allows you to securely attach the end
returns with screws running through
the back side of the board. This method
is much easier since most of the work is
done on your workbench. And it also
hides any damage from a poorly hung
Start by measuring the distance from
the nosing at the top landing to the nosing
on the bottom tread. Add 12 in. to
this measurement to find the length of
the board you’ll need. We used a 1x6
and shaped the edge with a router and
cove bit. Cut the handrail 6 in. longer
than your measurement with 45-degree
miters on each end. Screw the handrail
brackets to the handrail (but not the
board yet), spacing them about 4 ft.
apart and about 1 ft. from each end.
Support the handrail on the board and
measure from the tip of the miter to the
board to find the length of the returns.
Cut the returns. Then glue and nail
them to the ends on the handrail. Photos
1 – 3 show how to complete the job. We
used finish screws to attach the board
to the wall because the heads are smaller
and easier to hide.