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It's all hands on deck this week to help finish off your garden decking.

A handrail is a must for raised decking as it makes it safer and adds a little bit of elegance.

The good news is you don't have to design it yourself. Decking manufacturers have already solved this problem.

Nip to your local builders' merchant, such as Keyline, or visit a large DIY store to choose from a wide variety of ready-made balustrades, ranging from the turned style to square clean lines.

Fixing the balustrade to existing decking is not as complicated as it might seem. Many balustrades come in a flat-pack set, so all you need to do is fit it to your decking.

Don't over-complicate things - a simple handrail is all that is needed to provide a support for going up and down stairs.

For extra decorative purposes, adding vertical balusters will finish off any handrail and turn the decking into a more prominent design feature in your garden.

Newels are the posts that hold up each end of the handrail.


Tape measure


Drill bits



Spirit level


Deck posts




50-70mm deck screws

Here's how it's done..

1 Pace newel posts so they're no more than 4ft apart or at top and bottom steps.

2 Cut the notch from the bottom of newel post so it will be flush with the decking joist it is to be fixed to.

3 Fit the notched newel post over the outer joist of the decking sub-frame.

4 Use screws or coach bolts to fix the post to the decking joist (once decking boards and handrail are added it becomes very secure).

5 Secure posts together with a handrail. For main deck a square cut to the rail will do but the rail for the steps will need to be mitred.

6 Secure the rail to the top post with screws. Angle screws into the handrail and don't worry about the heads as they won't be seen.

7 Screw the other end of the handrail to the bottom newel post, working from under the rail this time.

8 Fix the balusters no more than 100mm apart. Pilot drill a screw hole at top and bottom and secure with a screw at each end of baluster.

9 Job done!

TOP TIP - keep the handrail one metre high...this is handy for most people.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 28, 2007
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