How to install wall mounted handrails 


mopstick handrail - install wall mounted handrail
Mopstick handrail

pigsear handrail - install wall mounted handrail
Pig's ear handrail


Handrails are arguably one of the most important parts of a staircase.  Although they’re functional, they’re also a great way to inject your personality and make a feature out of your stairs.

They can be made out of solid oak or metal and come in a variety of shapes and styles depending on your preference. 

Yes, it’s exciting to plan your new staircase, but there are regulations you must follow when installing your handrail. 

In this how-to guide, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know when it comes to handrail installation, including regulations, types of handrails with a few tips and tricks along the way.

Handrail regulations

Stairs should have a handrail on at least one side if they are less than 1m wide. They should have a handrail on both sides if they are wider. You do not need a handrail on the first two steps up.

If your stairs are enclosed by a wall on both sides, then you will need at least one wall mounted handrail fitted and it does not matter which side the handrail is fitted to. If your staircase is wider than 1m then you need two wall mounted handrails.

If your stairs are against only one wall, then you will need a wall mounted handrail only if your stairs are wider than 1 metre. Domestic staircases are usually less that this width, so normally, no wall mounted handrail will be required in your home.

You may, however, wish to install a handrail on the wall anyway, as an additional aid. This is absolutely fine, bit it must still comply with current building regulations.

Fitting either a mopstick handrail, pig's ear handrail or profiled handrail will enable you to comply with the regulations.


What are the different types of handrail?         

Shop for Wall Mounted Handrails

There are a few different styles of handrail to choose from. There isn’t one that’s better than the other, they solely depend on how you want it to look. 

Here are the range of oak handrails we stock here at Wonkee Donkee. 

mopstick handrails (stair parts - handrails)
Mopstick handrail


install wall handrails - mopstick


install wall handrails - pigs ear handrail
Pig's ear handrail


mopstick handrail


pear stairs phr handrail (stair parts - handrails)

Profiled handrail


pear stairs phr handrail detail (stair parts - handrail)

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How high should I fit my handrail?

In all buildings, handrail heights should be between 900mm and 1000mm measured from the pitch line to the top of the handrail.

To measure this accurately, lay a straight edge, long enough to cover several steps, on the stairs. The pitch line will be the underside of the straight edge (assuming no carpets are fitted). See below.

install wall handrail - how high should I fit my handrail


With your mopstick or pig's ear handrail, you should aim to match the height of the top of the existing staircase handrail.


Installing Mopstick Handrail

Installing a handrail sounds more complicated than it actually is.  With accurate measurements and high-quality materials, you’ll be equipped to fit your handrail like a pro. 

Allow 50mm for the thickness of the handrail, measure up vertically at least 850mm from the front of the bottom tread and the front of the top tread. 


install wall handrails - put a pencil mark at these points


 Put a pencil mark at these points, and fix a screw temporarily into the walls where marked. 


install wall handrails - fix a screw at these points


Stretch a length of string tightly between these two points. Check that the height is correct for all the steps and adjust one of the screws up or down if necessary. 


install wall handrail - stretch string between screws


 Mark on the wall every 500mm or so, so that you can use a straight edge to join all the points. You can now remove the screws and string leaving a pencil line at the correct height along the wall.


TIP: Instead of marking your wall with screws, have two people hold each end of the string taut while you measure and adjust to the correct height.


install wall handrails - handrail pencil line at correct height


 Place a long straight edge and level against the second riser to mark an intersecting vertical line. 


install wall handrail - place a long straight edge and a level against the second riser


 Draw a pencil line against the straight edge and then repeat the process except for the penultimate riser at the top of the staircase. 

install wall handrail - draw a pencil line against the straight edge


You should now have two intersection lines that mark the bottom mopstick bracket and top mopstick bracket. 

Divide the remaining distance between the two marks so that the brackets are no further than 1m apart. 

 It is normal to have two more points in total. You will probably have four marked positions for four mopstick brackets. 


install wall handrails - place brackets evenly no more than 1m apart


 Place the first bracket against the wall with the centre line of the bracket against the vertical line and the handrail plate along the handrail pencil line. 

install wall handrails - mopsitck wall bracket
Mopstick bracket


Mark the three holes with a bradawl and then remove the bracket.


install wall handrails - you should have three bradle points against the wall


 Repeat this process for the remaining three brackets.


install wall handrails - repeat this process for the remaining three brackets


Fix the brackets into the wall using fixing plugs for solid walls, or metal plasterboard anchors for plasterboard partitioning (if you can, try to screw into the timber frame of the wall).


Before plaster boarding, place a 300mm wide length of 20mm - or thicker- piece of plywood between the bracket and the wall. Then, flush with the vertical timbers at the approximate height of the handrail (allow for brackets). 

This will give you something really secure to fasten your handrail brackets to without the need for plugs or special anchors - limiting the need (and cost) for extra materials. 


Please Note: Make sure you have a secure fixing so that the rail is strong enough to fall against.

install wall handrail - fix the brackets into the wall


 With the aid of another person, place the handrail on the brackets and mark the position of the fixing holes with a pencil. This will allow you to pre-drill your handrail. 

Here at Wonkee Donkee, we recommend that you pre-drill all screw holes to avoid splitting your timber. 

install wall handrails - mark mopstick handrail with a pencil


Temporarily fit the handrail using a couple of screws, and vertically mark the ends of the mopstick handrail for cutting - this will give a much smoother and more attractive finish. 


install wall handrails- approx. 200mm down from top and bottom bracket


Use a level to vertically mark both ends of the rail approximately 200mm out from the brackets. Remove the rail and carefully cut with a tenon saw. 

You can now fix your mopstick handrail back into position. 

To finish it off and bring everything together, paint or stain the handrail. 


TIP: If possible, paint or stain the handrail before fitting to the brackets. This will save getting paint on your brackets.

 If you don't have anywhere to do this, place masking tape on the brackets - particularly on the part that fixes to the handrail - then screw the handrail in place with a single screw at each end.  This way you can now paint or stain without fear of getting any on your brackets. 

When everything is completely dry, remove the handrail and take off the masking tape. Secure handrail to all brackets using as many screws as the bracket allows. Job done!


install wall handrail - finished mopstick handrail
Finished mopstick handrail


Installing A Pig’s Ear Handrail

 A very similar process can be used to fix your pig's ear handrail. 

Even though it’s a different design, the same handrail regulations still apply. 

Follow the same instructions written above and double check all measurements - this will ensure accurate and long-lasting results. 


Get in touch today for more information! 

We don’t want anyone to be left in the dark about their staircases. Which is why the Wonkee Donkee team are always on hand to offer out help and advice on all things stair related. 

Give us a call today on 01938 557733 to chat to us directly. If you prefer, you can send your questions to or put them in our online enquiry form for a speedy response. 


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