When we bought our house three years ago, there was a lot of work that needed to be done to the house both on the inside and outside. For the first two years, the interior took priority resulting in a new kitchen, small addition, HVAC overhaul, and new windows just to name a few. Slowly our focus has been shifting to our backyard as the kids get older and their desire to play outside on their own grows.
My biggest area of concern with letting the kids head out there on their own is what we affectionally called the “Pit of Death” — a very open area where steps lead down to our basement door. There was no good way to secure the area without installing some kind of railing and a gate. We contacted several contractors and their estimates were ridiculously high so we decided we could design and build something better and for much less money (it helps that Jim is game to tackle most of my crazy project ideas).
So, with a few design meetings, a trip to a local building supply store (they had a much larger selection of wood than Home Depot or Lowes), and a day of labor we have our custom DIY railing and gate. I am absolutely in love with how it turned out and it was a much easier project than either Jim or I anticipated! Here’s what you need and how we did it…
2×4 pressure-treated studs
1×2 pine furring strips
1×6 Cedar (for the top rail)
Tongue and Groove Cedar Paneling
Masonry Bolts (sleeve anchors)
Hook & Latch
Hammer Drill (to drill into the brick)
Circular Saw (although a mitre saw would have been more helpful)
Total Cost: $250 (excluding the drill and saw)
A quick sketch to ensure designer(me) & builder(Jim) are on the same page
Laying out the 2x4 frame of the railing before securing any of the pieces together Jim built the frame before securing it to the brick ledge and wall Make sure the frame is plum and level before securing by using shims (a cute helper doesn't hurt either) Securing the frame to the brick with sleeve anchors Once the frame was anchored, Jim started by adding a piece of 1x6 cedar as the cap piece for the railing We used inter-locking tongue & groove cedar to make the horizontal paneling of the railing. Since our railing was longer than the 8' long pieces, Jim made sure to cut the pieces at varying lengths. The last piece was a bit tricky because our concrete pad slopes away from the house. After some careful measuring and cutting we got a perfect fit! After all of the side paneling was installed, we used another piece of 1x6 cedar to cap off the front of the railing The final step was building and installing the gate. We cut the tongue and groove cedar paneling to an equal size and braced the door with 1x2 furring strips. We bolted a piece of 1x6 cedar to the wall to the right of the stairway and mounted the gate to it. Once the hardware was added to the gate, it was ready to be installed. A little teak oil and a day to dry and we have our perfect (and safe) solution!