The steps leading up to my front door have iron railings on them,
embedded directly into the steps. Over time, the iron has rusted and
the railings are all breaking off at ground level. This has been
hastened by the ice melter that I've used on the steps the past couple
of years, which I've discovered is VERY corrosive to metal (it also ate
a screwdriver I had used to break up chunks of the stuff.)
So, here's what state it's in right now:
I plan to get the railings repaired by having a metal shop weld
extensions onto the legs. What's a "proper" or better way to reattach
them to the steps?
Best way to repair them is to cut them off flush with the concrete, then
weld pads to the base of the rods...drill holes through the pads and re
anchor to the cement using cement anchors or Hilti.. Jim
It depends on the nature of the extensions. It could be a flange to
reattach with concrete fasteners to the top (and cover the ugly break
point), or it could be an extension designed to fasten to the side of
I'd want to cover the blemish.
What Jim said except ... can't tell but what shape is the rest of the
leg in and how heavy were they to start with? Looks like lots of paint
bubbling which is good sign of corrosion on insides and given the
obvious length of time (based on stains) they've been rusting away, it's
quite possible there's hardly enough material left to make them worth
saving. That's a call can't tell from those photo's; you'll probably
get a good input from the shop guys. Which, btw, find a shop that does
such stuff routinely not just a general purpose weld shop; you'll likely
do far better.
Yes, they are quite rusted where they hit the step, but above that they
are solid. What I meant by "extensions" is that I'll have the bottom
several inches cut off and new material welded on. That way they'll be
strong and will retain the original height. I did that to another
railing further up the steps and they are quite sturdy.
It looks like the pad was cored and epoxy used to set the rails?
If so, I would remove all the old material, clean the core and use new
epoxy. The welder can also make a base plate that could be anchored
over the preset spot.
Yes, I think it is epoxy. How would I clean the core? some sort of
drill? It has to get the old metal out, too.
The base plate idea would be the best, most long-lasting, solution, and
easier to fix if/when it happens again. But if it's a whole lot cheaper
to re-use the current holes, I might go for that and let someone else
deal with the future.
Let me say this about that. Yes, no, definitely, maybe, and I don't know.
I used to fix just such things, being an ex steel erection contractor. I
fixed this type of stuff for 275 apartment complexes.
What has happened is that the water has stood in and around this long enough
to rust it out. Not a lot you can do about that unless you want to core
drill out the stubs, and then make the Pourstone footer higher to keep it
out of the water. But then, you would have to weld additions on, and fill
them from the inside, and then, they would probably just rot off at the base
What I would do: The metal is probably rusted out up a ways from the broken
off base. I'd cut about six inches off of that leg, weld a fresh piece of
.120" square tubing on to what's there so as to be close as you can have it
fit onto the plates and give you desired height. Then cut the other trash
stuff off flush with the deck. Clean the holes out best you can and fill
flush with Pourstone. (hydraulic cement) Then put a 4" square 1/4" plate
on the deck so as to center it over the hole. These are available at
wrought iron supply places, or over the Internet. If you don't know where,
Google ornamental metal suppliers. A big one in Houston and LA. Probably
one close to you, or cut your own.
Figure your height. If you did it right, you should come pretty close. If
you are high, cut some off. Weld the legs to the plate, and leave a weep
hole so water going in the inside has a way to seep out. It will look bad,
but will lengthen the life of the post. Get it plumb and level. Paint
using a cardboard mask.
Optional plate fasteners: Nail-ins (not suggested, as they tend to weaken
and pull out), Red Heads, sleeve anchors, or wedge concrete fasteners.
Drill holes deeper than you need so you don't have a lot of threads sticking
up. When you pound the rod down in the hole, be sure to put washer and nut
on it flush to the top so you don't booger up the threads, or remove it if
it mushrooms. Get all of them down to tight with light taps from a hammer,
then tighten them up.
$200 if I was to do this repair in today's market. Less if you can weld and
have RotoHammer and tools.
There you go.
Yeah,bolting it to a flange as others have suggested is just all
wrong. Ive seen the results too many times. Its a code violation in a
lot of places, maybe all. The apt I used to live in had to tear them
all out after installing them that way. You can fasten them using
brackets if the top rails are secured at each end of the rail. This
often isn't the case with steps.
Yes, I'm sure they would rot again. The only reason I might do it this
way is the expense of the alternative.
That's my plan. That's what I was calling the "extension" - removing
the corroded metal and welding new material on so the leg length is
I like this suggestion very much. I'd be very happy if it only cost
$200 - I was expecting a lot more. I'll have to start calling around to
see what it can be done for around here (Boston area.) I actually have
two more similarly broken railing, but this one is is a safety issue
and the others are only decorative.
Thank you for your great ideas. This has put me on a good path, I
The way they were designed originally obviously is not good enough, so I
would suggest doing it better this time. Consult with the shop about their
recommendations, but you might consider some stainless steel inserts that
the railing could then be attached to so as to prevent a repeat failure.
If you find that it is expensive to do it the right way, consider what it
will cost you if on an icy morning you go to grab the rail to keep from
falling and the sucker fails on you and you get injured. Lost work and
doctor bills are really costly.
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
That's a good idea. Iron will obviously rust, and I really do need to
treat the steps to keep the winter ice at bay. I guess stainless steel
would resist corrosion better. I do want to keep the iron railings,
though - they match others on the property and it would be too
expensive to replace all of them.
Why get replacements if they are going to rust too? Aluminum might be
longer lasting. Or, consider PT wood posts with large rabbit joints
that bolt to the side of the steps. These kinds of posts really need
to be secured more than you think due to the sideways forces they need
to take. I've know more than one person who broke bones, tore tenons,
survived 6 months of painful therapy--all could have been avoided with
strong sturdy railings on steps.
Point taken. I've been thinking that maybe a support piece could be
added to some point along the top of the rail. That leg could be
angled away from the walkway out into the shrubs where it could be
anchored to a small concrete pad. If done right, it wouldn't be
unsightly. I don't know if my description is understandable, but I
am thinking of ways to make it more sturdy and better able to
support the stress of someone grabbing it during a fall. Those stairs
do get VERY slippery sometimes - in fact, the reason this broke now is
that someone fell against it when they slipped.
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