I need to install a handrail in concrete steps. The problem is that after drilling ~2" (5 cm) down into the concrete, the drill bit wouldn't go any further. I suspect I'm hitting rebar. This is about 2 & 1/2" (64 mm) from the edge of the steps. The instructions for the handrail say I must drill 3 & 1/2 inches (89 mm) down for a secure hold. Then I attach a 1/2" inch (13 mm) threaded rod and secure it to the concrete with construction adhesive.

Would it be okay for both posts if I made a small mold, filled it with concrete, measured accurately, and drilled down through that?

Or I could buy a rebar-cutting drill bit. But I have concrete at home already. Thanks for any suggestions in advance. I won't be tackling the problem for at least another week, since my neuropathy makes it hard to deal with the heat (I don't sweat).

  • 4
    clean out the hole that you drilled and look inside ..... you can also use a magnetic pickup tool to feel for metal inside the hole – jsotola Jul 8 '18 at 22:42
  • 5
    Thing 1, I'd try a fresh drill bit before investing in a rebar cutter... but is this just 1 of 4 holes at the base? If it was, I'd feel okay about 1 hole not being great. And just as a side note, please tell us that you're not trying to glue with ordinary construction adhesive -- you're using something like Simpson XP that's designed for concrete, right? – Aloysius Defenestrate Jul 8 '18 at 22:48
  • 4
    I don't understand what's being proposed in paragraph 2. Are you suggesting that you raise the concrete around the post to make the hole deeper? No. Don't do that. – isherwood Jul 9 '18 at 14:45
  • 1
    Remember, the railing is not just to help hold your mom up, it must withstand 200 lbs. force applied horizontally at the top of the handrail too. Is that anchor rated for that? – Lee Sam Jul 9 '18 at 18:49
  • I finally figured out how to clean out the hole and look for rebar. Using dust buster and a flashlight I found nothing but what looks like stone. From what I understand, they mix concrete with stone. – Vilnius Anthony Blekaitis Jul 10 '18 at 20:07

New bit and a hammer drill will get you through it. Spent my 1st summer between college installing iron railing and that's the way we did it for railing that had tabs on the bottom and there was nothing we couldn't get through. If you hit rebar tip the drill at an angle and go on the side of the rebar.

For non tab installs we core drilled and used hydraulic cement.


This often happens in commercial construction where rebar is often. Rebar is a fairly soft steel, so a common drill bit (not carbide tipped) should be able to drill through it. Once through the rebar the tip will probably get thrashed and trash unless you know how to re-edge a bit. But very often it's just a hard piece of stone. Heat is hard on carbide hammer drill bits. I own a few hammer drills. The hammer drill setting on a person's cordless drill isn't the same as a dedicated hammer drill. They 'hammer'or chisel as much as they drill. The spiral part is more to remove material. The carbide is there for the tip to bust up the material. Don't force it. Work the trigger for speed and keep the hole clean. Is it possible to change the hole's location by drilling a new hole or 2 in the base of the railing?


Sounds like you're trying to use a regular drill and/or bit. You will need a hammer drill to properly install concrete anchors. A hammer drill moves not only round and round but up and down at the same time. I prefer SDS-type head attachments. Also, the quality of the anchor varies from brand to brand. There are a few varieties of concrete anchors (such as standard threaded and sleeved) that are available (My daily use favorite brand is Red Head). For small anchoring jobs (not a handrail!) there's even screw type ones (they are blue). Where safety is concerned, don't try and cheap out and definitely a good thing you came here to ask for help.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Will a hammer drill/SDS drill through rebar? And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Mar 1 '20 at 17:42
  • Yes a hammer drill bit will tear through rebar if you get that type of bit (more expensive obviously than regular concrete bit). Its the tip that is different. – jjamez Jun 28 '20 at 18:07
  • Thanks for the info, thanks for taking the tour, and please continue contributing! – Daniel Griscom Jun 28 '20 at 18:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.