How to repair loose railings or replace damaged railings

Deck railings add beauty to your patio but they also provide safety for your family and guests. With time, they too wear out because of exposure to different weather conditions. The expansion and contraction on the joints which occurs when the weather gets hot or cold result in loosening of these joints. So eventually you will need to repair loose railings, or replace damaged railings. 

If your family tends to lean on the rails you’ll find that with time they become loose. They are not really designed to absorb pressure constantly but rather to act as a barrier. Thus one easy way to maintain the railings is to stop people from leaning on them.

Age also contributes to the loosening and damage on the rails. With time paint will chip, joints will move further and further apart and sometimes the timer will crack.

Repair loose and damaged railings

  • The first step is to determine the extent of the damage. If the railings are not too old, they may have just become loose at the joints. This is caused by temperature changes and you’ll find the screws loose here.
  • Check for the strength of the railing by tapping on it. A good solid sound will mean that your railing just needs some care. However,if you find that bits of wood are breaking off the railing, it is definitely time to replace it.
  • For loose joints start by cleaning out the joint of any dirt and debris. A vacuum will help you get out any remaining dust particles.
  • Next you’ll fill up the joint with construction glue to hold the two pieces of railing at the corner together. Use a caulking gun to get the glue into the miter joint. Then pull the two pieces together to seal the gap.
  • Wipe off any excess glue that comes up as you pull the joint together.
  • Next you’ll use a galvanized screw to hold the two sides together. It should cause the two pieces at the corner to have a tight fit. This coupled with the adhesive will make a strong joint.
  • Fix any other joints that have come apart in the same way all round.
  • The next thing is to make the rail look new and shiny again. Begin by cleaning off the flaked paint by scraping it off the rail.
  • Next you’ll use a belt sander to sand the entire rail in preparation for painting.
  • If your railing has some crack on it, you’ll need to fill these with wood fill epoxy. Just cut the amount of epoxy needed for the crack, mix it up with gloved hands and then press it into the cracks.
  • Once you are done filling the cracks, use a putty knife to scrape any excess epoxy from the surface of the wood. Then give the epoxy time to cure as guided by the instructions on the package.
  • An alternative to wood fill epoxy is builder’s bog. It lasts a long time and will serve the same purpose.
  • Once the material has cured you’ll now sand the timber with a fine grit paper which will prep the surface for painting.
  • It is recommended that you use a primer before applying your paint. A good water proof undercoat will do quite fine for this purpose. Any choice you make will do but ensure to get what is designed for the exterior.
  • Next you’ll apply the top coat. Some people apply two coats as the appearance is better.

These few tips will extend the life span of your deck railing for another couple of years. It will also restore the appearance and improve the safety function of the railings.

Videos – How to Repair a Handrail, and How To Repair A Fence