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Shopping Checklist: Easy Fortress FE26 Steel Railing Planning

Everything You Need For A Complete Fortress FE26 Steel Deck Railing

A strong, classic Fortress steel railing can totally refresh any deck. But how do you know all the parts and pieces you need for a completely safe and code-compliant railing?

That's why DecksDirect is here - to make it easier for you to build a better deck. We plan thousands of deck projects every year, and on this page, we'll run through a complete checklist of all the parts and pieces you need for a complete Fortress FE26 Steel Railing - the strongest deck railing on the market.

Find a full checklist below, plus supplementary checklists for unique features like non-standard angles, drink rails, handrails, or gates. For even more personalized planning help, give us a call at 1-888-824-5316.

Fortress FE26 Shopping Checklist

Everything you need for standard level railings, stair railings, and traditional 90-degree corners.

Shop FE26

More Planning Help

Some unique deck features might require additional parts. Follow the links for a supplemental checklist of items to add for your unique feature.

A classy, simple Fortress FE26 Steel Deck Railing

Planning Your Deck Project

The first step in planning out your deck railing is to measure your deck space. It's helpful to draw out your deck's layout, measuring and labeling the lengths of each outside edge.

  1. Draw the layout of your deck
  2. Measure the lengths of each edge and label them
  3. Plan where your posts will go - the strength of steel means Fortress FE26 can span up to 10 feet on level sections from the center of one post to the center of the next post. On stairs, you can span 8 feet between posts
  4. Fill in between the posts with pre-assembled rail panels

Then count up the various types of posts and the various lengths of rail kits you'll need. Your shopping list will consist of:

  • Posts and post trim
  • Rail Panels
  • Installation accessories

Plus any other special additions you choose, like built-in lighting, gates, or decorative additions.

An assembled Fortress FE26 Steel Deck Railing

As always, we staff a team of experienced deck project planners to help you plan for all of your deck's unique features. Give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 for totally personalized project planning!

A sleek Fortress FE26 Steel deck railing blends into a forest background

Step 1: Posts & Post Caps

To start, choose between two different Fortress post styles based on how you want to mount them to your deck.

Surface mount posts attach directly to the surface of your deck. They come with a pre-welded base plate to mount to your deck surface, and post kits also include a two-piece post base cover, sometimes called a post skirt.

A Fortress surface mount deck railing post
Shop FE26 Posts

You can also choose fascia mount posts. These mount to the outside edge of your deck to maximize your deck space. To fascia mount your deck posts, you'll need the specialized fascia mount post , plus a fascia mount bracket , which you can see at the base of the post below.

A Fortress steel deck railing mounted to the fascia boards around the outside of a deck

Then choose one of three post cap options to complete the look. You can keep things basic with a hammered dome cap, add a little flair with wider flat-top caps, or light up your space with lighted pyramid post caps:

Pressed Dome Post Cap for Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

A small textured post cap for steel deck posts

Flat Pyramid Post Cap for Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

A stylish flat top post cap for steel deck posts

Flat Pyramid Low Voltage LED Post Cap Light Kit by FortressAccents™

A lighted deck post cap for steel posts

To mount your post to your deck frame, use a 4-inch or longer structural screw, like these Pheinox RSS Rugged stainless steel screws from GRK Fasteners. They're compatible with wood, pressure-treated, composite and PVC decking.

You'll need at least 4 inches of blocking attached to your deck frame under each post to ensure a sturdy connection.

Use Pheinox RSS Rugged Stainless Steel Structural Screws to mount deck railing posts onto wood, pressure-treated, composite, or PVC decking

Step 2: Rail Panels

A steel deck railing with the rails and balusters already welded together

Fortress makes things as easy as possible, producing pre-welded panels with the top and bottom rail already attached to the metal balusters. For stair sections, the balusters are welded to hinges so you can adjust the rail panel to fit the unique angle of your stairs.

Shop FE26 Panels

Do I Need To Buy Brackets Or Do They Come With Posts?

For simple level railing sections, you can actually buy posts with the brackets pre-installed. How easy is that!

You can find pre-bracketed posts for both straight-line connections and for 90-degree corners.

A post with brackets already installed for deck railing

For angled stair railings, you'll want to buy "blank" posts - that's what we call posts without the brackets attached yet. Then you can add a set of simplified stair brackets to attach panels to posts at the exact angle you need.

Optional Flair: Colonial Top Rail or Accent Top Panel

You can add a little extra flair to your Fortress FE26 railing with an accent piece for the top of each panel.

The Colonial Top Rail is a simple cap that attaches to the top of each rail panel, giving a classic, rounded shape to your railing:

A rounded-off Colonial Top rail for Fortress FE26 railing

The Accent Top Panel, meanwhile, is a slim, 6-inch-tall panel that adds a unique pattern to the top of your railing, like the ring top panel shown below:

A Fortress railing with the decorative ring top for a unique looking deck railing

Step 3: Specialized Installation Tools

Because of the pre-welded panels and pre-bracketed posts, Fortress FE26 railing is one of the easiest railings in the world to install. And any DIYer can do it without requiring a lot of specialized installation tools.

The one installation accessory we highly recommend is touch-up paint. If any part of your railing gets scuffed or scratched, touch-up paint will instantly cover the scuff with color- and texture-matching paint.

Fortress FE26 paint comes in two forms: a traditional can of spray paint and a touch-up pen for smaller, more precise touching up.

Touch-Up Spray Paint For Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

A can of spray paint to color and texture match Fortress FE26 steel deck railing

Touch-Up Paint Pen for Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

A pen to touch up scuffs on steel deck railing

Supplementary Shopping Lists For Special Cases

If your deck has unique shapes or features, you may need to combine the shopping list at the top with one of these additional shopping lists.

What Do I Need For Angled Railing Connections?

What you'll need:

A deck with a 45 degree angle requires specialized brackets for your railing

Not all decks have standard, 90-degree corners. If your deck has a unique angle like the 45-degree corner cutout above, you'll need one extra piece to tailor your railing to your unique shape.

Fortress offers a simple set of Rail Bracket Angle Adapters that you can use to adjust the angle up to 45 degrees in any direction. You can use these for level sections connected at an angle, or for railing sections that angle downwards into stairs.

Angle adapting brackets to attach steel deck railing at an angle

Can I Cut One Rail Kit Into Two Short Sections?

What you'll need:

If you need two short railing sections, you can save on materials by buying one longer rail section and cutting it into two smaller pieces you can use in two different places on your deck. Use a miter saw with a ferrous metal-cutting blade, file down any sharp edges, and coat the cut ends with two coats of touch-up paint.

A few things to keep in mind if you plan to cut a longer section down into two shorter sections:

You'll need an extra set of brackets. Each rail kit only comes with enough brackets to fit a single rail section. So if you're cutting one rail kit into two, you'll need to buy an extra set of rail brackets, as shown below:

A set of brackets for attaching a railing panel to deck railing posts

Allow for some lost length during cutting. Make sure you buy a rail long enough to fit both your sections, plus a little extra. To space our your balusters evenly from each post, you may have to cut out and throw away some portion of the panel you're cutting. For example, you won't be able to buy a 4-foot section to cover two 2-foot sections - we'd recommend buying at least one extra foot. For example, buy a 6-foot rail section to cut down into two 2-1/2-foot rail sections.

Include touch-up paint to cover your cut ends. Fortress FE26 railing is powder-coated to protect from corrosion. When you cut a rail, you'll expose some of the underlying steel. Fortunately, a quick coating of touch-up paint will cover that surface and protect your railing from corroding in the elements.

What Do I Need For A Deck Board Drink Rail?

What you'll need:

Cap rail clips attach a wood deck board to the top of a metal railing as a functional drink rail

Fortress FE26 is perfectly designed to add a deck board on top as a functional drink rail.

How do you get it? Just add Cap Rail Clips to your shopping checklist. They'll fit around your top rail and attach the deck board of your choice. Wood, composite, PVC - you can mount any of these as a drink rail. Just make sure you use boards with flat bottoms and not any scalloped or fluted bottoms. They won't mount in a stable way like flat bottom boards will.

Can I Use Existing Wood Posts?

What you'll need:

A gorgeous deck with sleek steel railing panels installed between classic wood posts

If your deck already has wood posts, you can save some time and expense by mounting Fortress steel railing panels between your wood posts like the gorgeous rustic setup above.

Just get regular Universal Fortress Brackets and attach them directly to your wood posts. For a thicker, more traditional look, you can also try Fortress Collar Brackets.

A wood post with Fortress steel railing brackets attached

What Do I Need For A Safety Handrail?

What you'll need:

A square steel handrail on a set of deck stairs

Fortress offers a coordinating handrail you can use to make your deck stairs safer and easier to navigate. And it even comes in the same three finish options so you can perfectly match it to your FE26 railing!

Just connect long handrail sections and use secure bracket mounts to attach them to the railing, as shown above. The C-shaped end cap is called a handrail return, or you can plug the hollow ends of the handrail with handrail plugs.

What Do I Need For A Coordinating Gate?

For openings up to 34-1/2 inches:

For wider openings up to 48 inches:

A gate securing the bottom of deck stairs

As an added safety feature for children, pets, or other guests, you can cap off your railing with a matching gate.

Depending on the size of your opening, you can use Fortress's easy pre-welded gate, or the more customizable gate panel and uprights. We love adding gates, especially to decks with stairs, to keep the deck surface totally safe and secure.

Free Planning Help

If you need help making sure you've got everything you need to complete your deck railing project, just give our team a call. We've got a staff of experienced deck project planners available by phone to help you get everything you need in one order - no over-buying or needing to come back for a second order.

Call Us: 1-888-824-5316
A wide deck view through sturdy Fortress FE26 steel deck railing

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