How to Install Handrail Brackets

Emily Patterson

Handrail brackets secure a handrail to the wall next to stairs. If they are not installed properly, they will pull off the wall and leave holes. In addition, codes in most locations specfiy a height for handrail installatoin, usually between 36 and 38 inches.

Stair handrails provide a stable bar for balance going up and down stairs.

If in doubt, contact your local municipal office for the proper installation height for your area.

  1. Mark a location on the wall 36 inches from the front edge of the bottom riser and 6 inches from the end of the railing area, using a pencil. Repeat for the top riser.

  2. Search for wall studs with a hammer and finishing nail or stud finder. Gently tap the drywall with the hammer and listen for a hollow or solid sound. When you hear a solid sound, place a finishing nail in the area and drive it in with a hammer. If the finishing nail encounters resistance, it has hit a stud. Insert the finishing nail to the left and right of the area to find the sides of the stud. Repeat for each handrail bracket that will be installed.

  3. Place the handrail bracket in position on the marks so the top of the bracket is aligned with the 36-inch mark. Use a pencil to mark the locations for the screw holes through the screw openings in the brackets.

  4. Drill pilot holes with a 1/8-inch drill bit at the location of each of the screw holes marked on the wall.

  5. Install screws through each hole in each handrail bracket.

  6. Place the handrail into position on top of the brackets.

  7. Mark the location of the screw holes in each bracket, using a pencil, to secure the handrail.

  8. Remove the handrail and drill short pilot holes, just enough to start the screws, into each location for the screw for each handrail bracket. The screws will be going in on an angle and it is difficult to get the alignment right, making starter openings for the screws necessary.

  9. Attach the handrail to the top and bottom brackets by installing screws through the bracket and into the starter holes in the handrail.

  10. Measure the space between top and bottom brackets and divide the area so additional handrail brackets will be spaced 36 to 48 inches apart, depending on the location of studs. Studs should be located 16 inches apart on center, so if you measure 48 inches from the top and bottom brackets, a stud should be at that location. Check with a hammer and finishing nail to be sure.

  11. Align additional brackets with the bottom of the handrail and secure in position with screws.

  12. Tip

    If the handrail will support more than 200 lbs. of pressure, use longer screws than those that accompany the brackets. Use masonry screws and an appropriate-sized masonry drill bit to drill pilot holes for all brackets if installing the handrail brackets on a masonry wall.