Concrete steps can be a hazard if they are not properly installed with the necessary equipment. In fact, in most municipalities, it is against building codes to not have a railing on more than 3 steps.
If your home or shop has this issue, you should consider installing a railing.
This will not only make your steps safer, it can help you avoid costly fines. In the long run, it is always better to take the time to do the job correctly.
Installing a Metal Railing on Concrete: Basic Idea
Even though working with concrete seems like it can be difficult, most people can do it. To install a metal railing correctly, follow these steps:
- Measure your steps
- Dry-fit the metal railing
- Install high-quality concrete anchors
- Bolt in your railing
Specialized Tools You Will Need
While installing a metal railing is a fairly simple process, you will need a couple special tools.
One of the things you should make sure you have is a concrete drill bit. If at all possible, use this bit with a hammer drill.
A hammer drill looks just like a standard drill but with a handle on the side for better stability with pressure.
You should also have a powerful wet/dry vacuum for removing concrete debris from your anchor holes. If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum, you can also use compressed air.
Other than these few tools, everything else you will need is a normal, standard type of tool.
Measure the Stairwell
Depending on the type of railing you are installing, you will need to make a few measurements.
If your stairs have a landing at the top, measure the landing for the 90 degree section. Then, measure from the edge of the landing to the edge of the last step.
Once you have this measurement, you can purchase your railing from a manufacturer or fabricator.
Dry-Fit the Railing
When your railing arrives, dry-fit it to get a placement for all the pieces.
Most metal railings will sit in flanges that are anchored to the concrete. Get a good idea of where you want these flanges to be and mark the holes for your anchors.
Get someone to help you hold the railing in place and ensure that your marks are accurate.
Install Concrete Anchors
Once you have marked off the placement for your anchors, you can drill the holes.
Use a hammer drill and concrete bit to drill the holes roughly the same size as your anchors.
Use relatively high pressure and operate the drill slowly. The slower you move the bit, the more bite it will get in the concrete.
When the holes are cleared, hammer in your anchors with a standard claw hammer.
The anchors should be driven in at least ½” or until they are sturdy and won’t move. The key is to make your railing as strong as possible, so make sure you are driving your anchors deep.
Bolt in the Railing
Once your anchors are driven in, you can secure them with an epoxy.
Fill the remaining spaces of your anchor holes with heavy-duty epoxy and let it set and cure for 24 hours. This will ensure that they are secure in the holes and not moving around.
After the epoxy has cured, you can bolt in your flanges and railing. Make sure that all the railing supports are plumb and level.
Once this is done, you can be sure that your stairs are safe and in compliance with building codes.
- Is it illegal not to have a handrail on stairs?
In many municipalities, it is against building codes to have no handrail on stairs.
If your steps are in a garage or basement, it is not likely that you will get a fine. However, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to being in compliance.
- Can I use a regular drill bit for concrete?
You can use a regular drill bit for concrete but it will not be as effective.
If you are not going to use a concrete masonry bit, be prepared to throw it away afterwards. The concrete will eat away at the threads and will not be usable after drilling.
- Do you drill concrete fast or slow?
Always drill concrete slowly to ensure a proper bite.
The key with drilling concrete is to get as much purchase on it as possible. By drilling slowly, you can be certain that the bit won’t slip and it will give you proper leverage.
Installing a metal railing on steps is an important consideration.
Keeping your home safe and in compliance with codes is a good idea for everyone. A railing on steps will help make every area accessible and easy to navigate.