How to Pick the Right DIY Handrail Kit

DIY handrail kits have become increasingly popular among homeowners, as they offer a simple, cost-effective solution for improving the safety and accessibility of outdoor and indoor spaces.

However, not all DIY handrail kits are created equal. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind to ensure that you are getting a safe, durable and effective DIY handrail once it’s all installed. So let’s explore some of those considerations, including what makes a good DIY handrail kit, what to avoid, and the best fasteners for securing your handrail.

Things to Look For in a DIY Handrail Kit

The first and most important aspect of a good DIY handrail kit is that it should be fully assembled and welded.

This may seem counterintuitive for it to already be assembled if it’s a “DIY” handrail kit. However, that’s not the case at all.

A fully assembled DIY handrail kit should arrive at your doorstep already put together, but it’s still up to you to install it. Fully assembled DIY handrail kits save time and are much safer. Professionally welded DIY handrail kits provide superior strength and durability, ensuring that your handrail will last for years to come.

Another important factor to consider is the material used to construct the handrail. The best DIY handrail kits are made from high-quality materials such as steel or wrought iron. These materials are strong, sturdy, and able to withstand the elements, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor handrails. Steel and wrought iron handrails also offer a classic, timeless aesthetic that will never go out of style.

What to Avoid With DIY Handrail Kits

DIY Handrail is proud to offer some of the highest-quality and longest-lasting DIY handrail kits on the market, but you should also know about some that should be avoided.

For example, kits that contain many parts that must be fitted together onsite should be avoided. These types of kits can be difficult and time-consuming to assemble, and may require specialized tools that you may not have on hand. Again, the highest-quality kits will be welded and fully-assembled DIY handrail kits.

It’s also important to avoid DIY handrail kits made from inferior materials. Thin, weak, aluminum handrails may be cheaper, but they simply won’t hold up over time. Aluminum is prone to bending, denting, and warping, and may not be able to support the weight of an adult in the event of a fall.

Choose the Right Fasteners for your DIY Handrail Kit

Once you’ve selected the perfect DIY handrail kit for your needs, it’s important to choose the best fasteners for securing your handrail in place. There are several types of fasteners to choose from, including screws, bolts, and anchors.

Our preferred fasteners are screws.  If installed properly, screws have a very high holding strength and present very little risk of damaging your stairs.  The material composition of your stairs will determine the length of screw and installation method.

The most common stair material to install handrails onto is concrete.  We suggest 5/16” diameter x 2¼” long masonry screw fasteners for concrete.  Masonry screws require the installer to drill a ¼” pilot hole to drive the screw fastener into.  Our fastener kits will include (8) masonry screw fasteners, a pilot hole drill bit and a 5/16” hex bit to drive the fasteners in.  We suggest drilling your pilot hole to 2½” deep, removing all dust and debris prior to driving the fastener into the pilot hole.

Brick & pavers are another common stair material to install handrails onto.  For brick and paver applications, we suggest 5/16” diameter x 5” long masonry screw fasteners.  The extra length of the fastener allows the fastener to extend through the brick or paver and into the underlying masonry substrate.  The installation process is identical to the concrete fasteners other than the extra length of drill bit and fastener.

Drilling a pilot hole in most masonry is not difficult and can be accomplished in most cases with a corded or battery drill.  It is preferred to use a drill with a hammering function to make the job easier.  It isn’t necessary to force the drill bit.  Let the bit do the work.  It is advisable to keep the drill bit as cool as possible by dipping it in water occasionally or letting your garden hose trickle onto the location while drilling.  Once your pilot hole is completed, clean any dust and debris with compressed air, water or vacuum.

To drive the fastener in, it is preferred to use an impact driver and the supplied driver bit.  If an impact driver is not available, the fasteners can be driving in with a ratchet and 5/16” socket.  If using a ratchet to drive the fastener in, you may need to twist the fastener in until resistance is felt and reverse the fastener back out.  Then drive it back in again until resistance is felt.  Repeat this process until the fastener is fully embedded.

Wood steps are another type of stair material which handrails can be installed into.  For wood steps, it is suggested to position the handrail to align over the stair stringers or over any back blocking that has been installed with the stairs.  Our wood fasteners are 5/16” diameter and 3¼” long.  For harder wood species such as oak, redwood, ash, etc. it is recommended to drill a ⅛” pilot hole to help prevent the wood from splitting.  Softer wood such as pine, fir & composite should not require a pilot hole.

In regards to other fastener types, there are many options available.  Please refer to the manufacturer’s installation recommendations and warnings prior to using any fastener.  Through our years of experience, we prefer screw fasteners over any kind of expansion anchors.  We have found that expansion anchors sustain a lateral force on your stair material which may result in the stair material cracking over time.

If your handrail will be installed in areas prone to freeze & thaw, an added safeguard of using silicone sealant on the fasteners is an option to prolong your stair materials structural makeup.

DIY Handrail Has You Covered

A good DIY handrail kit should be fully assembled and welded, made from high-quality materials, and should be easy to install using the right fasteners. Check those boxes and you can ensure that your DIY handrail kit provides the safety and accessibility you need, while also adding a touch of style to your indoor or outdoor space.

Of course, if you want some help finding the right DIY handrail kit for your needs, or determining the right fit of materials and fasteners, you can talk to the specialists at DIY Handrail. You can request a mockup to ensure we have the kit you’re looking for, and can help you ensure that it perfectly meets your needs in both function and quality.
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