DIY' er - Options for Attaching Rails to Posts

by Steven
(Everett, WA)

I want to attach my deck rails (cedar 2x4) to the post vertically on both top and bottom rails. I want to attach them centered on the sides of the post.

I have seen brackets for this purpose however at 18 posts (per code) the price of all these brackets not to mention the unattractive nature of them I would really like to find a better way to attach them.

I have thought about a mortice tenon method however again the time for 18 posts and the angle mortises for the stairs make this a not so attractive method.

Are there methods that are strong, not as noticeable as exposed brackets and do not involve days of machining?

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Oct 04, 2011
Here are your options
by: Editor-Rich Bergman

There are a number of ways of attaching 2x4 horizontal rail members to guard rail posts or other posts. Yes, there are a number of synthetic connectors that separate the post and rail and have chamferred (sloped) edges with counter bored holes to accommodate toe nailed screws. These are very nice systems and the fasteners remain flush with the sloped edges.

But even at $6-$7 a pair it can add up. But I truly consider this to be the wisest expenditure you could make for you deck for a number of reasons. First eliminating wood on wood contact wherever you are just makes good sense for increasing life span of your deck. And especially if you live in Washington where it can rain frequently from October to March. Second, right now they are the best looking connector concept on the market.

It sounds like you prefer not to see the base of the connectors extending beyond the periphery of the 2x4 rail member. I can appreciate that and agree that would be even better. But so far these are the best available.

Mortise and tenon construction with glue would be amazing. But you will find this challenging and meticulous work in order to make it look perfect. Installing would require a lot of time to dry fit and literally assemble it very carefully. And still you would have wood on wood contact at all the joints - so these areas would rot first.

Depending on when you plan to build your project I may be able to help as I have a new patent pending rail connector system coming out for 2012 which is absolutely amazing. Stay tuned.

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