How to Put a Railing on a Retainer Wall

Building codes require railings on structures that exceed a set height, usually 2 feet.
Railings may need to be installed on retaining walls for safety.Railings may need to be installed on retaining walls for safety.
Aluminum fences are light construction, reducing the load that bears on the wall, and the prefabricated panels are simple to install and built to code. Outdoor structures and hardware are subject to water intrusion and corrosion, so take care in the selection of materials, and the installation. Check with local building officials about specific height requirements and other regulations that may apply to railings.

Step 1

Snap a chalkline along the center of the top of the wall from the start post to the end post. Mark the center of the posts with an "X," using the lumber crayon.

Step 2

Drill the hole for the first post with the core-drill -- starting at the center of the "X" -- not less than 4 inches deep, and slightly larger than the post diameter. Repeat for each post.

Step 3

Clean the first hole of particles and debris. Fill the hole with water and scrub with the brush. Remove excess water, leaving the hole evenly damp.

Step 4

Mix the anchor cement in the bucket with the recommended ratio of water. Place the first post in the center of the hole, and pour the anchoring cement around it, until it slightly overflows at the top of the hole.

Step 5

Place the level on the side of the post, and adjust for vertical level. Check the height of the post. Use the trowel to slope the cement at the base of the post, as it stiffens.

Step 6

Slide a fence section into the end post. Place a line post in the next hole, and place the other section in the line post. Pour the anchoring cement around the post. Fasten the fence according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 7

Repeat the procedure for each section and line post, until the fence is completed. Check every few sections that the fence and posts are level, plumb, and the right height. Adjust the posts with the rubber mallet before the concrete sets.

Step 8

Finish with the final end post. Tighten the connections for the fence section as required.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line
  • Lumber crayon
  • Mason
  • Core-drill
  • Anchoring cement, non-shrink grout type
  • Bucket
  • Trowel
  • Carpenter's level
  • Posts, to recommended diameter for railing
  • Railing sections, aluminum
  • Fasteners and hardware for railing, as recommended
  • Rubber mallet


  • Seek a helper for the project, to avoid delays while the anchoring cement is setting, and assist with handling the fence sections.
  • Core drills can be rented at a tool-renting facility.
  • Double-check the layout of the posts before drilling holes.
  • Adjust the diameter of the post holes if necessary. Often end and corner posts are larger than line posts.
  • Mix small amounts of anchor cement, as it sets quickly.