How to Install an RV Handrail

You can have the adventure of a lifetime in an RV. RVs, on the other hand, have narrow steps that can be difficult to navigate. Install a handrail to give yourself something to hold onto! With a few power tools, you can replace the stair railing. If you want something smaller, bolt a wall-mounted handrail directly to the RV’s wall. There are also hand-to-floor rails that run from the RV to the bottom step. You’ll be crossing your RV’s stairs a lot, so finish the simple installation to travel in comfort.

Method 1 Fitting a Handrail on Steps

1. Place the mounting bracket along the bottom step of the RV. Extend the steps and open the RV door. Then, locate a location for the bracket. The bracket for most handrails fits along the side of the upper step. Align the bracket with the step’s top and side edges.

Instead, some rails are intended to be installed along the bottom step. Place the short, thin bracket that came with it on the front edge of the lowest step.

The bracket can be installed on the left or right side of the steps. It is determined by where you want the handrail to be.

2. Drill two 14-inch (0.64-cm) pilot holes through the steps. Insert the tip of a power drill into each of the bracket’s holes. Drill all the way through the siding of the staircase if you’re installing a side-mounted bracket. Drill about 2 in (5.1 cm) deep enough to fit the screws for a front-mounted bracket. Some brackets may require more than two screws, so drill extra holes as needed.

Some brackets have an adhesive backing that you can use to secure them during installation. If the bracket’s holes line up with any already on the step, you could also temporarily install a screw there.

3. Screw 14 in (0.64 cm) screws into the bracket to secure it to the step. While threading the screws through the holes, keep the bracket steady. If you attached the bracket to the side of the steps, have someone reach through the steps to insert the screws. Use a different screw for each hole. Typically, there are about 5 of them to fill.

Simply screw the holes through the pilot holes with a cordless screwdriver for front-mounted brackets. This type of bracket is much easier to install and does not necessitate the use of additional hands.

4. If the screws’ ends are exposed, use locking nuts to secure them. The screws on side-mounted brackets will be visible on the outside of the steps. Attach a 14-inch (0.64-cm) locking nut to each screw. Because these nuts are threaded like screws, turn them clockwise by hand until they are secure. Then, using a ratchet wrench or another tool, tighten them.

Locking nuts are typically not required for front-mounted brackets. You won’t have to worry about adding extra security if the screws aren’t exposed.

5. Insert one of the handrail’s legs into the bracket. The handrail is designed to fit through an opening in the bracket’s top edge. Slide it in, then push it all the way down. Typically, the bracket will have an additional hole near the opening that corresponds to a similar hole on the leg. Insert another screw and turn it clockwise by hand to secure the leg.

Check that the leg is securely fastened in the bracket. If it isn’t screwed in place, it may slip out while you’re using it.

6. Adjust the height of the handrail and place it on the ground. Remove the metal clip from the other leg of the handrail. With the clip removed, the leg can be slid away from the handrail. Look for a few holes on the leg. After you’ve found a comfortable height for the handrail, slide the metal clip back through the holes and press the ends together to secure the leg in place.

The removal of the handrail is even easier than the installation. Detach the handrail by removing the clip and screw. The stairs can then be folded up without removing the bracket.

Method 2 Screwing on a Wall-Mounted Handrail

1. Place the handrail next to the RV’s door. Step inside the RV to determine the location of the handrail. Someone else should hold the handrail against the wall. Place the upper handrail bracket approximately 36 in (91 cm) above the ground. Adjust the positioning if it does not feel comfortable to you there.

When standing at the bottom of the steps, handrails are typically placed to your left. Because of this positioning, the rail can swing closed when not in use.

2. Make pencil marks on the RV’s wall for the bracket screw holes. Hold the rail in place by pressing the brackets firmly against the RV. The majority of handrails have two brackets with three screw holes each. Make certain that all of the marks are visible so that you know where to drill for the installation.

You may be able to drill through the holes in some handrails without removing the brackets. It speeds up the process because you don’t have to rely on pencil marks to determine where to drill.

3. Drill a pair of 14-inch-wide (0.64-cm) pilot holes through the wall. Make holes through each of the marks you made with a power drill. Depending on the length of the screws included with the handrail, drill holes 2 to 3 in (5.1 to 7.6 cm) deep. Drill with caution to avoid causing unnecessary damage to the RV’s exterior. Most brackets require two screws, but some may require additional holes to be drilled.

Tape can be used to size pilot holes. Place tape about 2 in (5.1 cm) up from the tip of the drill bit, then drill. The bit will be 2 in (5.1 cm) inside the wall when the tape reaches it.

4. To prevent leaks from forming, fill the holes with RV silicone. To avoid having water enter the comfort of your RV, use a product labelled as safe for use with recreational vehicles. Insert the canister into a caulk gun, then use sharp scissors to cut open the nozzle. Apply silicone directly to the holes, filling each one until it is flush with the rest of the RV’s exterior panelling.

If possible, have someone hold the handrail in place while you insert the silicone through the brackets. Fill the bracket holes with sealant to create a thicker layer of protection against moisture.

RV silicone is available from RV suppliers online as well as at many hardware stores. Make certain you’re using an RV product rather than a household one. You could also use caulk or RV sealant.

5. Screw the brackets to the RV using 14-inch (0.64-cm) screws. Replace the handrail on the RV before the sealant has dried. Allow someone to hold the handrail in place while you secure each bracket. Use the screws that came with your handrail, which are typically galvanised screws that measure 2 to 3 in (5.1 to 7.6 cm) in length. Using a cordless screwdriver, drive them through the bracket holes and into the RV’s wall.

If you’re working alone, try inserting some of the screws by hand to help secure the handrail to the wall. Then, one by one, tighten the screws to complete the installation.

The rail is generally safe to use right away because it is screwed in place. However, if you have the time, let the sealant dry for 24 hours before using the rail.

Method 3 Attaching a Hand-to-Floor Combination Rail

1. Place the bracket in front of the lowest step. A small lower bracket that fits on the front edge of the lowest step is typical of combination rails. Align it with the step’s edge and side. Make sure it’s no more than 1 in (2.5 cm) to the right or left of the door so that the upper bracket can fit.

The rail can be installed on either side of the steps, but it works best on the right.

2. Install the bracket by drilling 14 in (0.64 cm) pilot holes and securing it with screws. Typically, the bracket has two screw holes. Fit a 14 in (0.64 cm) drill bit into the holes and drill about 2 in (0.64 cm) deep. The bracket should then be secured in place with 14 in (0.64 cm) screws. These screws come with the handrail.

Before screwing any holes through the RV, check the positioning of the handrail. Ascertain that you know exactly where you want the rail to be and that the mounting brackets are properly positioned to match.

3. Attach the upper handrail to the RV’s wall with screws. Place the handrail in a location where you can comfortably reach it while walking down the steps. Drill 14-inch (0.64-cm) pilot holes through the handrail bracket. Because the bracket will usually have two screw slots, drill two pilot holes to match. Fill the screw holes with RV silicone while the bracket is in place to prevent leaks. Then, using the included screws, secure the bracket in place.

Stand inside the RV and check the position of the handrail. You can have someone hold the rail steady while you figure out where to put it.

Maintain the upper bracket next to the door and aligned with the lower bracket on the steps. When standing at the bottom of the steps, combination handrails should be placed on the left.

4. Place the third leg so that it is flush with the bottom of the door frame. Combination rails have an additional arm that screws to the RV for added stability. Swing your arm out from the handrail and towards the back of the RV. Check that it is level with the door frame or the RV’s interior flooring. If it’s in the wrong place, the rail may feel shaky while you’re using it.

Attach the third arm to any solid spot you can find if you have an RV that opens in the back. Try putting it on the kick panel, which is the strip of material that runs between the door frame and the bumper.

5. Drill two 14-inch (0.64-cm)-wide holes through the bracket. Remove the leg from the bracket by sliding out the metal clip that holds it together. Locate the holes, usually two of them, on the clip’s ends. You can use those holes to make pilot holes without having to measure anything. Make pilot holes that are about 2 in (5.1 cm) deep.

Check to see if the bracket has a sticky backing that you can use to keep it in place while drilling. If it doesn’t, keep it or have it done for you by someone else.

If you’re having trouble working with the bracket, mark the screw holes with a pencil, then remove it and drill the pilot holes.

6. Attach the bracket to the RV’s wall with 14 in (0.64 cm) screws. Screw the screws into each of the pilot holes you created. Rotate the screws clockwise with a cordless screwdriver until they are flush with the RV. After that, double-check all of the brackets to ensure they are stable.

To avoid causing unnecessary damage to the RV’s exterior, measure carefully when installing the brackets. Fill in any gaps with sealant if you make a mistake.

To test the brackets’ stability, try moving them. Check that the screws are properly tightened if they feel loose.

7. To complete the installation of the handrail, clip the third leg to the bracket. Swing the leg back and insert it into the bracket. Look for holes on the leg and the bracket. After aligning the holes, insert the clip and press its ends closed to complete the installation. Make any necessary final adjustments before walking the RV’s steps in comfort with your new rail.

Adjustable bands are commonly found on the legs of combination rails. To tighten the bands and keep them stable during use, rotate them clockwise.

Remove the metal clips to detach the legs from the brackets when you’re ready to pack up the rail. The brackets remain in place, allowing you to easily reassemble the handrail the next time you want to use it.

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