Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings
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  1. #1
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    Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Seems I get a few of these jobs a year and lately I have done a couple jobs on short handicap ramps that are about 7-8' long. Bottom landing to 7' long ramp to top landing. So I have fabricated the ada railing with a post at the bottom of the ramp and a post at the top of the ramp. Its aluminum, so quite a bit more flex than steel has. After installing a couple of these rails, I realized that they have a good amount of movement and flex to them. There not moving within my core drilled hole (that is solid), but the post just flexes too much. On the rail I'm talking about, I had a top rail, a middle runner, and a bottom runner 2" off the ground.

    While coming up with the cad file on this project, I determined that 2 posts just looks way better than a 3rd in the middle of the ramp. Otherwise post spacing is less than 4' which in my opinion does not look good at all. I like to keep about 5'-6' post spacing.

    So anyway, I decided that I'm going to start using schedule 80 for posts instead of schedule 40 for everything. But I'm wondering if there is a way to fix this railing I already have installed to get it more stable and have less movement/flex while its in the ground. My thought is to drill a 1/2" - 5/8" hole in the side of the post just under the top handrail and get a funnel and pour a non shrink grout mix into the post (must be fairly liquid and not thick, but the cement-all brand I use will cure even with a wet mix) and either before or after pouring the mix in, snake in a piece or two of some thin rebar or similar.

    Let the grout cure without moving the railing. Then take a aluminum plug (like used for plugging the drain holes after something gets hot dip galvanized) and plug the hole, then grind/ pipe sand the plug smooth with the aluminum post and then touch up paint.



    Kinda wondering if the concrete will eventually crack in the pipe and allow movement/flex again in the future and if its even worth attempting this. Contractor hasnt asked me to do this, but I'm kinda thinking to myself of doing this anyway.

    What do you guys think?

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  2. #2
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

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    Dynasty 200DX (2014)
    Millermatic 211 (2015)
    Optrel 864 (2014)
    Smith Medium duty MBA 30510 (Xmas 2014)
    Tennsmith 16ga 4ft finger brake (2015)
    Trailblazer 325 EFI and excel
    Thermal dynamics Cutmaster 82
    Miller maxtron 450

  3. #3
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    I would use epoxy grout if I did it. You will need to drill a small vent hole to let air in while you pour the grout in the other holes. There is grout ment for thin areas that will pour like water and will flow into the pipe well. regular grout is too thick and will crack up into powder if flexed a few times. The down side is the epoxy grout is quit expensive and will cost you a couple hundred to fill a few posts. if it was a large post concrete would work ok but on a small hand rail post , no. Its been a while since I used any of the grouts but I am sure there are several out that will work. We used to use them under sole plates that had very little room under them. When that epoxy grout would harden you would have to jack hammer the sole plates to break them loos from the floor and even then you would pull up a layer of concrete with it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Not my call but if no complaints I would leave it alone. I'm with you on schedule 80 posts when using aluminum but last time local supply didn't stock it and too long to get it.
    This is 1-1/4" schedule 40 aluminum. The outboard rail posts are spaced about 49", it has a little flex of course but its plenty strong.
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    The ramp is approximately 10' and the top landing is 10'.
    Last edited by metalman21; 07-13-2019 at 04:09 PM.
    Ernie F.

  5. #5
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Epoxy grout? Looking that up online i can only really see a couple products used for the grout lines on tile.
    Gary, u know what product u guys used?

    Ya i feel that a regular concrete non shrink grout poured in the posts would make the damn rail solid as hell but just like u said Gary, its not real thick, and i worry it will crack away inside and it will eventually be back to the way it is currently.

    Metal man. Nice railing! Love the aluminum jobs huh!? At least for us small 1-2 man shops they are light weight!!!!

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  6. #6
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    If you absolutely have to stiffen the posts, cut them off below the lower bar and sleeve them. I would jam a pipe inside that the closest fit and reweld the post and finish prep it and call it good. Much cheaper and I believe easier than messing with trying to get grout inside a small hole. If the od of the sleeve is too small a series of tacks to increase diameter would allow for a tight fit.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    If you absolutely have to stiffen the posts, cut them off below the lower bar and sleeve them. I would jam a pipe inside that the closest fit and reweld the post and finish prep it and call it good. Much cheaper and I believe easier than messing with trying to get grout inside a small hole. If the od of the sleeve is too small a series of tacks to increase diameter would allow for a tight fit.
    Very good advice here this is what I have to do a lot of times when repairing railings although I deal primarily with steel. the only complication would be how far into the bottom pipe you can get....

  8. #8
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    I could see that being a possible issue. It would be easy enough to drill a small hole and stick a piece of wire in to see if there is enough depth to use a sleeve.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Nice suggestion mjd. Id really rather not cut the posts and be tig welding outside in the field but def a possible solution. I dont think my grout tends to float up into my post too much. I set the railing before pouring grout into the holes.


    Question for u guys that have done these railings before. On that ramp railing would you have added a 3rd post?
    Or just use schedule 80 for the posts? Besides the significant amount more labor it takes to add a 3rd post, i feel that 3 posts about 3’-6” from eachother isnt going to look very good.

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    Smith Medium duty MBA 30510 (Xmas 2014)
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    Thermal dynamics Cutmaster 82
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  10. #10
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Had an idea just now. Pouring molten lead into the posts. Idk if that would fook the powdercoat up.

    Ya prob will. Looks like lead needs to be 600 plus degrees to melt

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    Smith Medium duty MBA 30510 (Xmas 2014)
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  11. #11
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    More posts would be sturdier than increasing the wall thickness . Obviously an impact would bend the thinner wall post easier, but somewhere you have to draw the line. I personally think you are worrying too much about it. In reality it will be fine until it gets hit, and then 3" posts would bend anyways.
    Miller xmt304, Miller S22 p12, Miier Maxstar SD, Miller 252 w 30A, Miller super32p12, Lincoln Ranger 9, Thermal Arc 181I with spoolgun, Hypertherm 10000 ,Smith torches. Esab 161lts miniarc.

  12. #12
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Quote Originally Posted by outdoort View Post
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    Why doesn't that outside rail continue around that corner and down the other ramp, that alone would make that section much stronger?
    And it's actually better to have a little give in that pipe, if you used steel pipe it wouldn't be long before that concrete started cracking.
    Last edited by CrookedRoads; 07-14-2019 at 12:16 PM.
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    CR

  13. #13
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Move to 1-1/2" 40 and likely your probs are over.

  14. #14
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Crookedroads, Engeneered drawings man. Above my pay grade! Haha

    Dynasty 200DX (2014)
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    Optrel 864 (2014)
    Smith Medium duty MBA 30510 (Xmas 2014)
    Tennsmith 16ga 4ft finger brake (2015)
    Trailblazer 325 EFI and excel
    Thermal dynamics Cutmaster 82
    Miller maxtron 450

  15. #15
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Quote Originally Posted by outdoort View Post
    Crookedroads, Engeneered drawings man. Above my pay grade! Haha
    Well, I have a funny feeling you'll be getting some more work, that is unless the inspector is as dumb as the engineer.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Post thickness and spacing for Aluminum pipe railings

    Quote Originally Posted by CrookedRoads View Post
    Well, I have a funny feeling you'll be getting some more work, that is unless the inspector is as dumb as the engineer.
    LOL, seen this before and sometimes you get lucky ^^

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