Ok, I have my basement stairs I'm finally trying to mount a handrail on (it wasn't done by previous owners, and I'm finally getting to my "to-do" list :) )

So I measured, and went out and grabbed a wooden railing (4 ft length) and some brackets:

mounting bracket

So now I just have to find the studs ... and therein lies my problem. I did find 1 stud, however, I don't think that's enough to mount it to ...

here's a little diagram showing my situation:


So I have a short 5-step flight. From the bottom floor, to the top of the top step, it's 44 inches. From the first step to last, 44 inches as well ... My only stud is 19 inches in .. and I cannot locate a 2nd one.

I don't think I can / want to mount 1 bracket only to the drywall .. but if I have to, how to do it so it's as solid as possible ?

What options do I have ?

  • 2
    Surely there's also a stud at each end?
    – brhans
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:36
  • well, yeah, but the left side is the door frame, so I can't get to it. The other side is open door way, so if I mount directly to it, the handrail will stick out ... O.o
    – Ditto
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:47
  • Did you try 16" intervals from the stud you did find?
    – Tyson
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:51
  • yes, I checked, there appears to only be the 1 stud.
    – Ditto
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:51
  • I just had this problem but ended up finding studs when cutting holes for the backing boards as recommended in the answer below. For some reason this particular wall multiple known good stud finders (Zircon and Franklin) find nothing. After seeing there were studs, I got a magnetic stud finder as a last resort and was able to find several. For anyone else having this issue, trying a magnetic stud finder before cutting holes in the drywall may work for you too.
    – FreakyDan
    Commented Mar 22 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


A photo would help us narrow down possible solutions, but the bottom line is that you must have at least two solid anchor points. I find it hard to believe that you don't have studs at least on 24" centers. It could be that you're hitting the floor system, but that probably just means that you have solid backing in a horizontal orientation.

If you can't find additional backing, I'd run a flat hardwood 1x4 behind the handrail for the brackets to mount to. It can extend all the way to door trim or wherever is necessary to find backing. Now you have solid backing for your rail brackets.

  • That's probably the best option .. it had crossed my mind, but I wasn't entirely sure about it. That said, I actually decided to change tactics ... I checked the opposite (right side) wall ... it's got regular 16" studs .. so I just gave up and mounted it there instead. Initially I wanted it on this (left side) wall, for aesthetic reasons, but screw it .. safety first, right? :) Mounted fine ... thanks for the tip!
    – Ditto
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 16:28

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