Metal Deck Railing Installation in 6 Steps

What You'll Need
Metal railings, balusters, posts and mounting plates
Hardware: bolts, washers, nuts
Socket wrench
Saw with metal cutting blade

Everyone loves enjoying the outdoors from the comfort of an attached deck, and using metal deck railing in your building’s design will help your deck stand out. Wrought iron is a popular choice, but certainly not the only one. Choose between Stainless Steel, Copper, Aluminum, Brass, Bronze or Cast Iron, as well.

Step 1 – Plan

Plan your project in advance to ensure safety and adherence to building codes. 

  • Guardrails for decks must be at least 36” in height. 
  • Balusters and upright rails in the metal deck railing system cannot possess any opening large enough to allow a 4 inch sphere to pass through.
  • Handrails are required for stairs. The top edge must extend to 34” to 38” above the stair tread.

Create a layout of your metal deck railing project before you begin, if your project will be constructed from scratch. Otherwise, if a pre-cut kit, compare the plans and instructions to your actual environment to assure compatibility.

Step 2 – Mark

Mark the floor surface of the deck, noting the location of all balusters and upright posts of your metal deck railing. Completing this step prior to cutting any materials assures that all original measurements of your work area are confirmed.

Step 3 - Measure and Cut

Unless you are installing your metal deck railing from a pre-fabricated kit, you will need to measure and cut all components according to your plan. If using a kit, sort and verify that all components are present. If cutting metal, wear safety goggles and be certain to use a saw blade matched to the type of metal selected.

Step 4 – Drill

The posts and balusters of your metal deck railing will include a flange that attaches to the floor, or a separate base that mounts to the floor. In either case, drill pilot holes according to the marks on the deck floor.

Step 5 - Mount Uprights to Deck Floor

Position your metal post and use a bar level to be sure the post is vertical. Washers or shims can be used if needed to ensure the post is perpendicular to the floor. Insert your bolts and washers downward through the flange or mounting plate, and match to a backer plate underneath the deck floor. Tighten washers with a socket wrench.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 for all your upright posts and balusters.

Step 6 – Attach Top Rail

The top rail section of your metal deck railing project will fit over your upright posts and balusters, and provide strength to the assembly. Depending upon the design, you might attach the uprights into the top rails by fitting them into pre-cut slots. Alternatively, you may have two or more components making up the top rail, one piece attached with bolts, and a cosmetic cover to finish off the look. Use a level to assure that the top rail of your metal deck railing is horizontal to the deck floor.