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Thread: Vinyl Stair Rails

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Vinyl Stair Rails

    We have a good friend that has been fighting cancer. This last round of treatments has been hard and he's been preparing for the end. He's gotten pretty weak from the treatments and recently fell in the yard.

    Their front steps weren't done correctly and has a lack of railings. The first step is currently about 10" from the sidewalk, then 7" to the landing. Another friend and I are planning to go over and pour a new first step on the sidewalk, which will be about 3" high, but make the rest consistent in height/easier to climb. We're also planning to install some vinyl railing/hand rail on each side, posts will be anchored to the concrete.

    Anyone used vinyl railing before?

    Given that I've never worked with it before, I'm just wondering if it's stable enough for this application. There will the the two steps and the landing, which is 4' in depth itself, so a short side rail on each side of the steps connected to the hand rails.

    We realize that he may not be able to use it much longer, but it was something they mentioned they wanted done, so we're pitching in where we can to help get things check off his list for him.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  2. #2
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    Jul 2011
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    How hard would it be to make all three stairs the same height - 5 2/3" (assuming I got that right - 17" of total rise, three stairs..)? I ask because that would nominally be within code and more importantly variable height stairs are surprising to the foot so you're less likely to stumble on them if they are all the same. If you can possibly make them deep enough for a walker I'm pretty sure that would be huge as well. I'm guessing that to do that would require breaking concrete out for the current stairs which is why you aren't planning on doing that?

    On your actual question - I've seen some vinyl railing with steel/aluminium inserts to stiffen it. Without that it is - imho - pretty noodly. With that its about as sturdy as the insert.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
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    I'll second Ryan's suggestion to make all the steps equal in height. Better to have three matching non-standard height steps than to have two at a standard height and one oddball, especially for someone with mobility issues.

    No experience with vinyl railings, though.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    Delton, Michigan
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    ryan is right on the steps and the railings need the inserts..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
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    The original side walk goes up and is tied into the footing for the porch stoop. They poured the step that is there on top of that sidewalk. The sidewalk itself slopes from left to right by about 1 1/2". The new step will only come out 10" from the existing step (matching it's width and be about 2" thick on the right, 3 1/2" thick on the right, but this will evenly space the steps up to the stoop. I'd rather tear it out and put one back new, but budget isn't going to allow that. Not sure we'll do the vinyl rail either, I may be welding one up or at least some of the components to make the vinyl affordable to do. The internal metal posts with base plates are around $50 each, by the time we add the vinyl cover, cap, and trim we'd be up to about $500 in posts alone, over our budget. I did find some info on the rails we're looking to use and they are aluminum reinforced.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  6. #6
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    Would a ramp be a possibility?
    ________

    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Jones View Post
    Would a ramp be a possibility?
    Well, we discussed it, but it's really more about finish up somethings he's meant to do for a while, the steps are a hazard for most anyone that uses them. The house itself is a split level with stairs everywhere, once he gets to where he can't do steps, he'll probably not be leaving much anymore or will move to a home for care for the remainder.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  8. #8
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    Jun 2008
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    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Re: Vinyl Stair Rails

    Not thinking of what it looks like, but given this is of relatively short duration what about wood, thinking of pressure treated rail at least down one side and braced.
    Makes a big difference having something to hold onto when on stairs going either way...also re the ramp idea how about wood ramp laid on top that could be removed at a time when no longer needed.


    Sent from my MB860 using Tapatalk 2
    cheers

  9. #9
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    Well, we talked about it, they were clear that they wanted a rail and the step fixed. I've also been keeping an eye on CL for a stair lift if one comes up for a few hundred $. Mostly for him to get from the bedroom/bath level to the kitchen/living room level a little easier.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Not sure I ever posted up the railing once installed, we went with aluminum as most places don't sell black vinyl as it fades over time. I had messed up on the bottom straight rail cutting it just a bit too short and had to order a new one. I went over on Thursday and replace it and snapped a pic.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On a sad note, our friend had quit his chemo treatments a while back as he wanted to finish out his days feeling better. Unfortunately he did not get any better after quitting, in fact he digressed even further. The lady from hospice told his wife that he's hit a milestone that is common (dunno what it was specifically) and most likely he'll pass in the next 30 to 60 days. I have to say, the folks from hospice have been extremely helpful and can't say enough good things about them.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

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