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How to Install a Stainless Steel Handrail

Installing a stainless steel handrail (or indeed any other handrail) on a staircase is not quite as simple as you might think. Just so that it looks right, you’ll want your handrail to be set at exactly the same angle as the stairs.


Make Sure You Install Your Wall-Mounted Handrail at the Right Angle and Height

Practical reasons also dictate that the handrail should be at the right angle. It will feel strange to use if the angle is wrong. Just imagine walking down the stairs holding onto a handrail that you are having to reach up to by the time you get to the bottom. Or going up the stairs and finding that the handrail appears to be getting lower in relation to your hand.

You also need to install the handrail at the right height. The UK’s building regulations stipulate that the top of a staircase handrail should be between 900 mm and 1000 mm from the pitch line of the stairs. What’s the pitch line? Imagine a line drawn up the stairs touching the top of the nose of each stair tread (the front of the horizontal part of the step, just before it starts to curve). That’s the pitch line.

Installing a Handrail on a Stud Wall

In the instructions below, we’re going to assume you’re mounting this handrail on a solid wall. If it’s a stud wall, you have two options:

  1. You can use heavy-duty plasterboard fixings.
  2. You can work out the locations of the studs and give Simple Handrails the measurements when you place your order. We would then pre-drill the holes for the brackets in the right places on the handrail.

Before You Start to Install the Handrail

Let’s begin at the beginning. Be sure to leave the outer packaging of your stainless steel handrail on to carry it into the house. The handrail is made of high-quality stainless steel with a 320-grit finish. It looks lovely, so you won’t want to bang it or scratch it on anything. Ideally, two people should carry it in, so make sure you have a helper.

12 Steps to Install a Stainless Steel Handrail

  1. Remove the outer packaging, but leave the shrink wrap on. Only expose those parts of the handrail onto which the brackets will be fitted.
  2. Use the fixings supplied to attach your brackets to the pre-drilled and tapped holes in the handrail.
  3. Use a spirit level and tape measure to measure up 950 mm, for example, from the top of the nose of the top step (on the landing) and make a mark on the wall. The top of your handrail should be level with that mark.
  4. Make a similar mark on the wall 950 mm above the nose of the bottom step. In most cases your handrail will run from the nose of the top step to the nose of the bottom step. However, the UK building regulations state that a handrail is not strictly necessary for the bottom two steps.
  5. Hold a piece of string taut between these two marks and fix the string to the wall at the two ends using masking tape.
  6. Hold the stainless steel handrail up against the wall with the top of the handrail at the height of this piece of string and the brackets flush with the wall.
  7. Use a pencil to carefully mark the wall through the holes in each handrail bracket.
  8. Double-check that all marks are in the centre of each hole.
  9. Use a bradawl to make a little indentation at the centre of each mark. That will make it easier to drill holes precisely.
  10. Drill holes to suit a size-12 wood screw and insert wall plugs into all the holes. (If you are fixing the handrail to the studs of the stud wall, you won’t need any wall plugs, of course.)
  11. Tighten all the screws while holding the handrail in place again with your helper. It’s easiest if you do the brackets at the top and bottom first.
  12. Remove the shrink wrap. A knife or a sharp pair of scissors can scratch your handrail, so please be careful and always work away from the handrail if using a knife.

And that’s it – you’ve just installed your beautiful new stainless steel handrail. Stand back and admire it, try it out!

Please contact us here, we're always happy to help.