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How to Build a Deck Railing Inside the Rim Joist

by HomeRepairExpert.com
The versatility of wood allows for many design options for deck railings. Picket spacing, top-cap styles and deck attachment method all dramatically affect the overall architectural feel of a deck. A popular option for the latter is to attach the railing to the interior of the rim joist, which gives the deck a clean look.

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • 4-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated posts
  • Carpenter's square
  • Level
  • 3/8-inch galvanized carriage bolts, nuts and washers
  • Pressure-treated wood blocking
  • Hammer
  • 2-1/2 inch wood nails
  • 2-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated lumber
  • 2-1/2 inch wood deck screws
  • 2-inch by 2-inch pressure-treated pickets
  • Drill with 3/16 drill bit
  • 2-inch by 6-inch pressure-treated lumber
Mark the post locations on the rim joists so that they are evenly spaced within each side of the deck. Typical spacing should be no less than 5 feet and no greater than 8 feet.

Cut the 4-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated posts to length. This is determined by adding the width of the rim joist, the width of the decking material, and the desired finished height of the rail (36 inches minimum). Mark the width of the rim joist onto the bottom of the post. Use a carpenter's square to draw a straight line.

Install 4-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated posts to the marked locations in Step 1. Align the rim joist mark on the post with the top of the rim joist. Use a level to ensure that it is plumb and attach it with 3/8-inch galvanized carriage bolts, nuts and washers.

Install pressure-treated wood blocking snug alongside the 4-inch by 4-inch post and between the rim joist and the next joist. Nail in place.

Measure the distance between two posts and cut two 2-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated boards to this length. Place temporary spacers on the deck--two scrap pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch lumber on-edge next to each post. Set one of the cut 2-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated boards on-edge onto the spacers and fasten it to the posts using 2-1/2 inch wood deck screws. Remove the temporary spacers.

Place the other 2-inch by 4-inch pressure-treated board on-edge between the posts so that the the top is flush with the top of the post. Fasten it to the posts using 2-1/2-inch wood deck screws.

Locate and mark the center point of the railing section. From outside the deck, attach a 2-inch by 2-inch pressure-treated picket with wood deck screws. Pre-drill the pickets with a with 3/16 drill bit to prevent splitting the wood. Use a level to ensure that it is plumb. Place the 2-inch by 4-inch spacer from Step 2 alongside the picket and install the next picket beside it. Continue installing pickets in both directions until the entire section is complete.

Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for all remaining posts. Install the top cap--a 2-inch by 6-inch pressure-treated board that lays flat across the top of the entire rail assembly. Fasten it with wood screws at every post and along the top rail every 18 inches or so.



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