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Series 550 Pipe Picket Railing anchored using surface mounts at a high school

How Do You Attach This Railing? Pt. 1

  •   Posted on February 18, 2021

When installing railing there are a variety of options from which to choose. What are they, and does it even matter?

There are a few options to select from when choosing how to properly secure a railing system, and each option can be useful in a variety of situations. We will discuss each mounting option in this article. Each option is applicable for both square and round railing post. We also will briefly explore the common applications for each option.

Base or “Surface” Mount

For railing applications, the most common and recognizable mounting option is the base or “surface” mount option. For surface mounts, a base plate is attached to the bottom of railing post and anchored parallel to the ground or surface the railing sits atop of. Additionally, surface mounts can be used on angled surfaces, such as stairs or ramps. Applications for surface mounts cover a wide variety, from the aforementioned stairs and ramps, all the way to patio or balcony enclosures. Depending upon the exact application, for instance higher-level balconies that require high load-bearing strength, a heavy-duty base that is welded onto the post will be used to provide more structural integrity and stability.

Series 500 Pipe Railing anchored using base mounts at a minor league baseball stadium.          Series 9100 Architectural Railing anchored using surface mount on a balcony. 

Series 500 (left) and Series 9100 (right) are anchored into place using base mounts.

Side Mount

The next mounting option is the side mount. Similar to the surface mounts, side mounts use a base plate in order to attach and anchor the railing system to a desired surface. and can be found on both flat and angled surfaces. However, instead of being anchored parallel to the surface it is being attached to, side mounts are anchored perpendicular to the surface they are being attached to. The most common applications for the side mount are in areas with a low amount of surface area for mounting, such as Juliet railings or smaller elevated decks, or areas where the end user wants the ground to remain clear.

Close up of a side mount anchored into a building.     Juliet balcony railing utilizing side mounts to secure the railing

Side mounts allow railing to be installed in areas with lower amounts of surface areas.


The final mounting option is an embedded mount. Embedded mounts occur when the bottom portion of the railing system is placed inside, or embedded, into the surface it is being attached to, usually concrete but not always. To meet regulations and codes, the railing posts are built with extra length in order to be properly embedded into the mounting surface while still meeting safety height requirements. Embedded mounts are typically in applications where the surface is concrete or other hardening material, as these allow the embedded post to be placed into the surface before it solidifies. Often, a decorative slip over base will be used on embedded applications, but is used for aesthetic purposes and offers no additional structural support. Additionally, embedded systems often require a weep hole for drainage in regions where there could be freezing and thawing.

Series 500 Railing embedded into concrete.          Series 9000 Heavy-Duty Railing embedded into concrete by a pool.

Both Round (left) and Square (right) railing systems can be embedded into surfaces such as concrete.

Why it Matters

As we explored, each mounting option provides something a bit different based upon the needs and wants of the project. Sometimes, the mounting system is pre-determined based upon the project type, while other projects allow for freedom of choice when selecting a mounting option. Join us next month as we explore different mounting surfaces and project types in-depth!

Further Readings

20 more Railing Terms

A Brief History of Railing Design

How Do Uou Attach This Railing Pt. 2

How Do Uou Attach This Railing Pt. 3