Purchase ready-cut balusters or make your own from 2x2s. You may want to angle-cut one or both ends on the outside faces. Determine where you will drive the fasteners. Set a group of balusters side by side. Use a framing square to mark fastener positions, and drill pilot holes.

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Construct a jig to help maintain consistent spacing between the balusters.

  • Attach the balusters with 2^-inch fasteners, bottom first, flush with the bottom of the lower rail.
  • Install the first baluster plumb, then align the next few.
  • Check every five or six balusters to see that they are still plumb, and reposition an errant baluster, if necessary.

Make Mine Modular

Most railing designs require a top and bottom rail, set either on edge or flat and attached either to the interior or exterior post faces.
Both styles lend themselves to modular construction: You build each section of rails and balusters separately, then install them.
In either case, measure the distance that the rails will span—either between or on the outside of the posts—and cut the rails precisely. Gang-cut the balusters and fasten them to the rails.

When it’s time to install the sections, rest each end on a block of wood on top of the decking before you fasten them. Pieces of 4×4, or 2x4s set on edge, will provide a 3 1/2-inch space beneath the bottom rail and the deck—a space that should comply with most building codes.

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