Anchoring a handrail

Lived in this house 35 years. Now wife needs a handrail to get up/down front steps. Planning on going with metal railing, 36" high.. Posts are 2x2 with a square bottom flange with four holes for bolts. The manufacturer recommends 3/8" x 4" expansion anchors for attaching posts to the concrete steps.
The problem: A few years ago I overlaid the steps and sidewalk with decorative concrete "stones" which are 11 x 14 x 3 1/2" thick. Two layers. So, the concrete steps are 7" below the surface of the stones. The stones are held in place with construction adhesive, which has been satisfactory so far. But definitely will not hold the stones securely enough to support a handrail. I could use 12" long expansion anchors to penetrate to the concrete steps but they are 3/4" diameter and I'm concerned about the "swiss cheese" effect on the concrete. Alternately, I could use 5/8" x 10" anchors with only 3" in the step concrete, which would probably have enough holding power and slightly less "swiss cheese".
What are the other options for securing the posts, if any? I would be especially interested the approach others have successfully used in a similar situation.
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Your 10" solution sounds like the best idea, I would also put construction adhesive liberallly around the bolts to keep any water out of the holes, a good idea if you are located north of the gulf states and have freezing weather.
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1.2x2 with a square bottom flange with four holes for bolts seems to me like a bad design. With four holes it should be at least 4x4. 2.Personally I dont like expansion anchors and find them too weak. I prefer using drop anchors, but you do need to be very exact in the depth of the hole you drill for them and blow out the dust frequently while you drill. 3.I would use two part epoxy adhesive
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100659425/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=epoxy&storeId=10051
and possibly wait at leas 24 hours between each hole on one post before drilling the next one.
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On 9/12/2012 10:08 PM, David wrote:

When I was much younger, and didn't know _how_ to anchor a handrail to our concrete porch/steps, I came up with a perfectly acceptable workaround that stands to this day. I used sections of 4x4 cedar posts. Dug holes right alongside the bottom stop and the porch slab and stood the sections upright (in concrete) so their tops were level with the step and porch. Then I bolted the handrail into the top of the posts. Presto: handrail firmly secured right alongside the edge of the steps. Bonus: since the concrete wasn't touched, there has been no cracking or patching needed, which is more than can be said of my neighbor's porch, where he mounted his handrail directly into the concrete.
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My neighbor did a similar thing, except that he designed his own railing.
He used 1 x 4 cedar boards, laid flat from post to post, top and bottom, and added some nice wrought iron spindles.
The 1 x 4 gives a nice flat surface for coffee cups, packages, etc. as you are using the front door or standing on the stoop.
The difference was that he had no actual steps to worry about, just a single step down from the stoop slab to the walkway, so his railing was a simple horizontal section.
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On Thursday, September 13, 2012 10:22:52 AM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:

The wife wants metal railings. 'Nuff said.
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On Sep 13, 12:18pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

use 1 or 2 inch pipe, drill large enough hole to bury pipe 6 inches into ground, anchored with hydralic cement... the railing part gets welded to the poles, and once its all cleaned up, paint well..
for railings supporting people on a regular basis this is the safest best way
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How about doing way with the square mounting plate and mount them to the side of the steps? Of course it then wouldn't be 36" high. Perhaps sistering on another piece of 2x2 to lengthen the posts.
Harry K
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On Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:39:40 AM UTC-5, Harry K wrote:

It's the same problem as with using treated posts in the ground adjacent to the steps: interference from large trees next to the steps.
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Retrofitting a house for a disabled is not a fun job. I wound up with handrails/grab bars everyplace there was a spot to mount one. The project also pointed out that 28" doors (common back in the day) are _not_ a "good thing"!
Harry K
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On Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:09:21 PM UTC-5, David wrote:

It's a good suggestion and one that I considered. Two trees located adjacent to the sidwalk/steps would cause interference with any outboard railing approach.
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On Sep 13, 9:13am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Can we get a picture of the steps/trees? They must be growing way too close.
Harry K
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On Sep 13, 9:13am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Harry K
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I like the idea of building the railing along side of the steps, you can always tie the vertical posts to the side of the steps for extra strength. Overall it is a good idea if you can get access to the ground next to the stairs.
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Depending on the material used in the manufacture of the railing...I'd be a bit suspect of the strength & stiffness of a 2x2 with square bottom flange.
Getting a railing to perform using a bolted flange connection is not easy/ A railing needs substantial anchoring force, like a 1" x 1" solid square stock embedded into the concrete. A square bottom flange would have to be pretty stout to do the job.
Look at the base of a bolted light pole. The pole / base plate joint is heavily gusseted.
Use 3/8" stainless threaded rod, it's not expensive at Mcmaster-Carr. Get a couple 6' pieces and you'll have plenty of length to reach into the concrete.
I'd recommend Rapid Set epoxy adhesive.... cheaper than Simpson and uses a standard caulking gun
http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=354677-286-862031&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=3416896&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=req&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1
Help prevent damage to your brick overlay by "debonding" the threaded rod where it passes through the brick. Wrap the threaded rod with tape in the zone where it will attempt to bond to the brick. Using a substantial rod length will allow the rod to anchor into the concrete. The tape will prevent bonding to brick & lessen the likeihood that the the railing anchors could pull the brick loose.
cheers Bob
PS I wrote my reply before I saw snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com's post. I would concur with his comments.
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I haven't done this but one thought I have is to get some 3/8" threaded rod. Drill 1/2" holes thru the "stones" and around 3" into the concrete steps. Test fit things so you get the length of the threaded rod correct for each location. Then epoxy the threaded rods into the concrete, use a low viscosity epoxy and pour enough in to fill up the part in the concrete, I probably would not fill the entire hole up to the top with it as it would tend to cause the upper part to get loaded when you tighten it, you only want to pull on the bottom part so you don't lift the "stones".
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