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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Handrail Project

Steep Stairs? No Problem- well,
at least not after figuring out how to build it!
We are all getting older and so a
handrail was needed on the steep stairs going up to my Mom's House.
She lives up in Marin and it is not a garden spot. Between the thin soil, hords of Deer, very large Hares, Gophers and drought it is a challenge to say the least. But it is a beautiful spot and we love it there. My Mom and Dad built the house and the concrete stair going up to it about 50 years ago. About 30 years ago we got lights for the stair and now the time has come to have a handrail.
It was quite a thinker to figure out how to build one as the stair is very wide, there is an electrical line under the ground on one side plus stones in the way and the other side has a concrete gutter. The budget did not allow for the hiring of a contractor so Lois had to put on her thinking cap.
This became quite the green project! We recycled these old clay drain pipes (rectangular boxes) from the property as post bases to pour concrete in. I had some long 2x6 redwood planks that we sanded down for the cap and we purchased the 2x4 running boards that sandwich the posts.
I used 2" diameter sch 40 pvc for the posts and spray painted them with some paint I had.
The reason for the plastic round posts was to allow for the rail to be able to turn slightly at angle
to follow the stair as it goes up (with wood we would have had to route the posts- no tools for that!
We put lovely polished stones, left over from my daughters table settings for her wedding, in the surface of the concrete and left a cavity to plant some succulents in the front of the boxes.
To hold back the concrete I scrounged some leftover wood from another project and we used old bricks to hold it in place.
The wood was bolted through the plastic pipe and the rail was screwed on. The hard parts were getting the holes to line up right with the angle of the stairs and mixing and pouring the concrete.
Luckily I had some helpers- my younger daughter and her boyfriend really saved the day and my back! Mom was out there too supervising, sanding and placing pebbles.
The finished product may be somewhat rustic but I think it goes with the place and it does a great job helping us up the stairs. It was great to utilize a lot of things we had and to work it out to be compatible with Lois' skillset!

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