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I currently have a metal step rail that is straight and spans three steps leading up to my front porch; it is the typical cheap metal railing you commonly see. It is at the end of its life, so my fiance wants something a bit more unique.

So, her ideal would be a cedar, flush mounted single rail (still straight, not mounted to house or wrapping around the small porch we have). My biggest concern is making sure the posts are secure since it would be flush mounted, lack right angles, and not secured to the side of the house.

I found this advice:

Drill 4 holes 6" deep by 5/8" diameter in the bottom of each 4x4 post. Center the holes about 1" from the corners, and drill slightly toward the center of the post, i.e. the holes are slightly angled in. Use Simpson epoxy to glue 4 pieces of 1/2" all-thread or 3/8" rebar into those holes.

When the epoxy cures, the protruding rods can be bent so they exit the post parallel to one another and to the post's long axis. Now drill 4 holes in the concrete for each post, same size and depth, all straight down. Brush and blow out all the dust. Mask off the concrete around where the base of the post will rest.

Mask off the sides of the post at the bottom. When that is done, put a fresh nozzle on your Simpson gun and put epoxy into the slab holes, and set the posts. Quickly brace them plumb. While the epoxy is soft, smear the excess away from the bases with a gloved finger, and carefully remove the masking while things are still squishy.

Take lunch, or work on something else. The posts will cure solid in an hour or several, depending on temperature, etc. When they are cured, they will feel like they grew there.

It sounds pretty good, but before I go to all the trouble of doing it this way. I wanted to know:

  1. Is this a good way to do this?
  2. Is there a better way?
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For 4x4 posts mounted on their butt end to a concrete surface it seems like a robust solution. One concern is that if you ever have any rotting and some of the wood ever needs replacing it will be rather difficult to remove these posts. If it is a solution that you would expect to get 5 to 10 years of average service life out of then the solution will work nicely.

One nice aspect of the described solution is that it lets the post sit right on the concrete without any visible fasteners. Any other type of post butt fastener is going to show some type of metal brackets that could detract from the aesthetic.

  • I agree, but cedar is so soft that I wonder how long it will last. Even if it doesn't rot, it tends to have surface degradation that could release the epoxy. – isherwood May 10 '18 at 14:25
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    Also, I'd use galvanized or stainless. It's likely to bleed rust from under the post otherwise. – isherwood May 10 '18 at 14:26
  • @isherwood I hadn't considered that. Would it be significantly better to go pressure treated pine and use a semi-transparent stain to try and match a cedar tone? – UnhandledExcepSean May 11 '18 at 12:45
  • I guess I just have doubts about using epoxy on wood outdoors in general. There's so much moisture and expansion/contraction that adhesives, especially rigid ones, don't seem to hold up. I think a similar approach but with threaded dowels might do well. – isherwood May 11 '18 at 13:35
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Drill a single hole into the cement and into the 4x4 for a length of 3/4" or larger galvanized water pipe. Let it extend up into the 4x4 half way. After assembly, drill through one side of the 4x4 and through the pipe, then drive a 3" screw through those holes and into the other side of the 4x4.

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