Building a deck, Q about top railing


I'm having my deck rebuilt by what I thought was a professional, but we're on day 2 and I'm having my doubts on his competence. I've already had to make him fix 3 rather large errors, so I'm about an inch away from firing him and just doing it myself.
Anyway, my question is about the top railing. I bought the type of railing from Lowes that's basically a 2x4 that has been shaped and somewhat finished, and you attach a 2x4 underneath to create the top rail. Sort of like this, but not exactly:
http://imgs.ebuild.com/cms/ebuild/2008/49679/Untitled-1.gif
How is he supposed to attach the shaped railing to the 2x4? He wants to run screws through the rail into the 2x4s, but that seems like an extremely bad idea when the rail is already shaped and finished.
My thoughts were that Lowes might have a bracket that's supposed to connect them. Or failing that, I've attached wood with Liquid Nail that wouldn't come apart without a hammer, so I thought that might be the more appropriate solution.
What's the correct way to attach them? Any help would be very much appreciated! TIA,
Jason
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The post suggests neither party has yet thought of fastening the two by driving screws up through the 2x4 into the rail, so that the screw heads will be both invisible and sheltered from rain.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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You're correct, we haven't. Do you mean to drill a 3" hole up into the 2x4, vertically, and then run a screw through the remaining 1" and into the rail?
This is definitely an option, but with the aluminum balusters 4" apart, it makes it a little more difficult. I know that the contractor isn't going to do this, so I would have to have him install the brackets for the balusters, and then I would have to drill the holes for him overnight.
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Jason Carlton wrote:

Without seeing the exact parts, it is hard to say. Is the bottom of the cap rail recessed to catch the 2x4? Is the recess deep enough to add a few countersunk finish nails through the side? Failing that, is the 2x4 drilled to receive the top of the spindle posts? Long screws up through the bottom would work. You don't need to pin the 2 rails together real hard- once every couple of feet is plenty. (assuming they are both firmly attached to the vertical posts at the end, of course.)
Yeah, sounds like your 'pro' is a bubba, used to building decks out of PT dimensional lumber. (not that there is anything wrong with that- my new deck will be done on the cheap.) But for a pretty shaped and prefinished cap rail like that, screw holes on the top is just dumb. Along with being ugly, they will let water in (no matter how well puttied), and turn that fancy expen$ive rail to crap in a couple of years.
-- aem sends...
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That's an extremely accurate description of the guy building the deck. He was not happy about the brackets I bought to connect the 2x4s to the 4x4s, either; he just wanted to nail through the corners of the 2x4s. Like you said, that's all good, but if I'm spending $8500 on a deck, I want it to look the way I want it to look!
I couldn't find the rail on Lowes.com, but they have the slowest site in the world so I gave up after 30 minutes of searching. Instead, I just took a photo of the end of it, so you can see the type I'm talking about. You can see it here:
http://www.gowilkes.com/Handrail.jpg (68kb)
The 2x4s that go underneath are just regular 2x4s; they're not drilled or anything to fit into the rail. There's really not a place on the rail for a screw or anything, which is why I thought that maybe Liquid Nail was the approved method.
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Jason Carlton wrote:

Point your browser to http://www.crsales.com/handrail_with_nails.htm and take a look. What would be wrong with simply using stainless steel finish nails as indicated in the somewhat crude image that I made. You can even get the nails online at http://www.stainless-fasteners.com/finishnails.htm if you can't find them locally.
Don
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Don, aemeijers expressed my exact concern on using nails earlier. I worry that even a small hole will let water get into the wood, and of course during the winter, that water becomes ice. So over time, I worry that the trapped water will warp and split the rail.
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$8500 is a significant price. In your place, after so many disagrements, I would fire this chap and look elsewhere. With careful thought and preplanning, you can build a better deck yourself with one unskilled helper, cheaper too.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Filets & exterior glue, such as Probond. You don't need much glue, the filets hold the side to side. Filets will more than likely have to be fabricated on site with table saw etc. I would glue the filets using no fasteners, unless you use SS brads or similar just to tack into place. Still glue the filets.
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Larry, can you be more specific with what you mean by "fillets"? I looked up pictures to make sure that I understood the term correctly, but I'm not sure how you mean that they should be used here.
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Maybe I'm not on the same page as you're wanting to do. But, from the looks of the handrail (plow) you're using, it is configured to use filets, between the spindles. I'm assuming, which is a bad thing to do, is your 2x4 are going to set into the plow of the handrail. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.stairpartsusa.com/v/vspfiles/assets/images/6010%2520plow%2520%26%2520filet%2520 (2).jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.stairpartsusa.com/Stair_Parts_Handrail_s/22.htm&usg=__pWswC7JsSeKBYJsmtAzSW80ocYw=&h !5&w6&sz=7&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=tlWl6lDxeLw68M:&tbnh6&tbnwb&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dfilets%2Bhandrail%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dopera%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1
or http://tinyurl.com/m8fxo2
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Larry S wrote:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.stairpartsusa.com/v/vspfiles/assets/images/6010%2520plow%2520%26%2520filet%2520 (2).jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.stairpartsusa.com/Stair_Parts_Handrail_s/22.htm&usg=__pWswC7JsSeKBYJsmtAzSW80ocYw=&h !5&w6&sz=7&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=tlWl6lDxeLw68M:&tbnh6&tbnwb&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dfilets%2Bhandrail%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dopera%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1
vertical 2x4. (the cap rail looks like it is designed for multiple applications.) That is why I assumed that the vertical 2x4 would be drilled to accept the top of the spindles. His later reply implies pre-made panel sections, with the top and bottom rails and spindles pre-made in a factory. With those materials, I'd still try screwing up from the bottom, with long skinny stainless screws and a countersink. I know I could do it, and I'm no artist with a drill.
-- aem sends...
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.
Aem is exactly right. There will be a vertical 2x4 on the bottom, another vertical 2x4 on the top, and then black aluminum balusters between; like this:
http://stiles123.com/deckInstallationBalusters.html
But instead of what appears to be a horizontal 2x4 in the picture, mine will have the aforementioned top rail.
I shouldn't have any problem screwing these in from below, if that's the best method to use. Thanks, all,
Jason
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On Mon, 7 Sep 2009 17:16:14 -0700 (PDT), Jason Carlton

Can you run the screws up from underneath? I would not trust Liquid Nails without some kind of mechanical fastener with it.
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