Fixing a deck railing - Router Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Default Fixing a deck railing

A friend asked me to repair her deck railing, there was some rot on one of the posts and she was not very happy about that. The person who built the railing for this deck wasn't thinking. He positioned the seam directly over the fence post... trouble waiting to happen. I removed the left rail and then tilted my circular saw to 45º. I adjusted my depth of cut so it would just cut through the rail. Using a large speed square as a guide I cut off about an 8" section from the right rail.

I used the 45º angle of the speed square as a reference and cut out the rotted wood free hand with my multitool. On the left of photo 2 you can see how much rot was in the end of that 8" section I removed. I flipped the section around to the good end and trimmed 1/4" off the side. I held it over the opening and used the multitool to trim it to the proper width. I painted the raw edges with a heavy coat of Titebond III. After it had soaked in a bit I applied more glue and held the piece in position while I drilled small pilot holes and fastened the fill strip in place with a couple of finish nails. I trimmed the top flush with the multitool.

Although the railing was built with a common 2x6" I replaced it with pressure treated lumber. Using the speed square and circular saw I cut the complimentary angle and screwed it in place. Some quick sanding with the multitool and the joint was done. I set my saw back to 90º and adjusted it to just cut through the 2x6" and cut the overhang on the end. I trimmed off the corners at 45º to match the other rail and used a 1/4" round over bit to soften the edges. A coat of paint and she was very pleased. These photos were for her but I thought some of you might enjoy looking at them.
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 12:57 AM
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Sorry, Mike, but I disagree with your assessment of the scarf joint over the post. That's exactly where it belonged. Any other location would have, in theory anyway, made for a very weak top rail. The cap rail is supposed to be able to withstand a specific weight/force applied to it laterally. For example a 250 lb 6' tall person falling against it. In order to withstand that, the weight has to transfer directly to the posts. Any kind of midspan joint would compromise that strength.
Installing a piece of waterproof membrane on top of the post, under the cap-rail would have given better long term protection, as would better annual maintenance.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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News to me Dan, I don't build decks or railings. The cap rail is secured every 12" with decking screws to the support beam under it. It is rock solid now, I tried to move it and could not. I also used two deck screws pocket hole fashion to tie the cap rails together. I do appreciate the information; hopefully I will never need to use it.

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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 02:14 AM
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I think this is the applicable American rule...
IBC 1607.7, the load requirements are for a 50 pound per foot uniform load or a 200 pound concentrated load applied
at any point along the top of the guard.

Lots of background info here...

Guardrail & Handrail Strength Requirements & Testing
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 02:24 AM
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I should also point out that the spindles also contravene most Building codes. There's a very specific maximum gap allowance in the Building Code; it came about from some infant accidents where toddlers got their heads stuck, or worse, squeezed through. I would imagine there were some fatalities from the latter.
"As detailed in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction: The International Residential Code (IRC) requires a minimum 36-inch-high guardrail for all decks, balconies, or screened enclosures more than 30 inches off the ground. For child safety, the balusters or other decorative infill must be spaced less than 4 inches apart (a 4-inch-diameter ball should not pass between the balusters)."
Deck & Porch Railing / Guardrailing Construction & codes: Guide to Safe and Legal Porch & Deck Railing & Guardrail Construction & Codes
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaninVan View Post
Sorry, Mike, but I disagree with your assessment of the scarf joint over the post. That's exactly where it belonged. Any other location would have, in theory anyway, made for a very weak top rail. The cap rail is supposed to be able to withstand a specific weight/force applied to it laterally. For example a 250 lb 6' tall person falling against it. In order to withstand that, the weight has to transfer directly to the posts. Any kind of midspan joint would compromise that strength.
Installing a piece of waterproof membrane on top of the post, under the cap-rail would have given better long term protection, as would better annual maintenance.
agreed on the joint location and why...

if you haven't WPM for the top of post butyl rubber caulk, Vulkem 116 or Sika 1A will work very well and are paintable...
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This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 11:15 AM
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Default Cornered

thought later that I should have mentioned the situation that occurs on a lot if not most balcony railings, and that's the mitred corners. Same big problem and same solution.
I loves VULKEM!!
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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This is why I encourage new members to post questions and projects; I always tell them I learn new things on the forum every day. Maybe they will believe me now! Are half lap joints a better choice over scarf joints for cap railings?

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 11:56 AM
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Good question, Mike; I don't know.
I think what happens is, pro carpenters build the original, and time is money. A quick cut with the SCMS and the scarf or mitre is done.
Far too few guys will go the extra mile to make sure the joint doesn't leak and rot, even if they do nice carpentry work.
I used to carry at least a gal. of Pentachlorophenol in the van at all times. ALL exterior exposed joints got dunked before assembly.
When we had to switch to Copper Naphthanate (sp?) the green stain put customers off, not to mention the long lasting odour.
The only other option was Zinc Napthanate and it smells just as bad...but at least it's clear.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 12:03 PM
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Mike; when I said the scarf was in exactly the right location I was actually wrong, sort of. The scarf is (was) too far off to the right by maybe an inch?
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