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Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Date: December 31, 2007 09:33AM
We need to install some railings on the cement steps in front of our house. The railings aren't to be merely decorative; they need to support someone leaning against them.

The fellow I spoke with at Home Depot this morning says that a contractor or handyman is necessary for this sort of job. This is because of the tools required to dig down into the cement; he described it as a fairly significant job. (Significant for me, if not for the handyman.)

Contrary to that, I found this page from Better Homes and Gardens, which makes the project look pretty approachable. I'd need to buy bases and a chisel and epoxy, and figure out how to make bolts plumb, but I imagine that can't be insanely challenging.

So, is this sort of thing a do-it-ourselves project, or is it a hire-someone-ourselves project?

Thanks!

GtDS & MG
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: incognegro
Date: December 31, 2007 09:35AM
Thanks for that link, Greg. I have one of those I need to install on our back steps.
The old one broke loose.



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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Date: December 31, 2007 09:37AM
Good. You it first, and tell me how it goes. :-)
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: billb
Date: December 31, 2007 09:45AM
If you know what a drill is
and a masonry bit
and water

and know how to use the above
you should manage.


That link explains a redo (hole already exists, the bolt from the previous railing is rarely re-usable).
That's what you have ?
If you understand how that rdo is basically the same as a new install, you should be able to do it.

You'll have to provide warrantee.


I'd drill a hole in concrete before I attempted it to decide whether to attempt it or not.
You should do a practice hole somewhere else the first time, anyway.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Date: December 31, 2007 09:51AM
Quote
billb
If you know what a drill is
and a masonry bit
and water

and know how to use the above
you should manage.

Knowing what they are? You bet. Using them in conjunction? I'd read the instructions, first.

Quote
billb
That link explains a redo (hole already exists, the bolt from the previous railing is rarely re-usable).
That's what you have ?
If you understand how that rdo is basically the same as a new install, you should be able to do it.

Nope; this would be new holes.

Quote
billb
I'd drill a hole in concrete before I attempted it to decide whether to attempt it or not.
You should do a practice hole somewhere else the first time, anyway.

Hm. We don't have any practice steps. :-) However, I certainly appreciate the intent behind the suggestion.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: December 31, 2007 09:52AM
there's always the old "pipe" type railing. you just screw on a base plate to the threaded vertical and mount that to the cement with 3 or 4 bolts. you'll still need to screw into the cement, but you can use a much smaller bit.

otherwise, to install a wrought iron type railing, you will need a much bigger hole and some type of fast-setting cement epoxy. do you have access to a hammer drill? that's what you should use for this type of job.



“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
- John Lennon
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: John B.
Date: December 31, 2007 09:59AM
Depending on how thick the legs are that you want to bury in the concrete...you would probably want to use an SRS (or demolition) drill...mine has drill bits of at least 1" (drill multiple times for larger holes). You could then drop the legs into the holes and fill with quick-set cement or epoxy. Home Depot (or any tool rental shop) rents demolition drills (which can also be used as small jackhammers). I've used mine to blast through concrete block without much of an issue at all.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 31, 2007 10:28AM
Greg,

I can only offer one piece of advice. If the rail must in fact support someone's weight and you have any doubts whatsoever about your ability to do the job properly, then hire a pro. The last thing you want to happen is the railing to fail, resulting in an accident. I know people who've suffered surprisingly horrendous injuries from a simple slip and fall. Toss in a railing that fails and it could be even worse.

Robert
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Date: December 31, 2007 10:30AM
Robert M:

Sober advice; thank you.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: billb
Date: December 31, 2007 10:32AM
If you've never drilled into concrete you may want to try it somewhere else first.
You may not have "practice steps" but I really doubt your steps are the only piece of concrete in that part of the world.

A patch from a screwed up practice hole on your basement floor is a lot less noticable than on your front steps.

Maybe you shouldn't attempt this.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Date: December 31, 2007 10:33AM
Quote
billb
If you've never drilled into concrete you may want to try it somewhere else first.
You may not have "practice steps" but I really doubt your steps are the only piece of concrete in that part of the world.

A patch from a screwed up practice hole on your basement floor is a lot less noticable than on your front steps.

Maybe you shouldn't attempt this.

Entirely possible; thanks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/31/2007 10:33AM by Greg the dogsitter.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: December 31, 2007 10:34AM
John B.'s suggestion of an SDS drill is very correct. My original suggestion of a hammer drill is good, but you need a hammer AND rotary drill.



“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
- John Lennon
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: December 31, 2007 01:09PM
Greg, What RobertM said. I'm living proof that a simple fall to the ground (asphalt, in my case) can eff you up for life. Or kill you.

It killed me, but I got better grinning smiley (Thanks to the guys that invented those zapper things). The coma, permanent memory loss, permanent damage of memory short term/ long term link, and intelligence (Yup, lost about 25+ IQ Points, I can use a Windows machine now), not to mention the stainless steel plate in my right arm that causes airport scanners to go 'beeep'... well, think twice.
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Re: Installing railings in cement steps...for n00bs
Posted by: davester
Date: December 31, 2007 02:01PM
Quote
cbelt3
The coma, permanent memory loss, permanent damage of memory short term/ long term link, and intelligence (Yup, lost about 25+ IQ Points...

That explains a lot! thumbs up smiley




"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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