Welding aluminum and stainless steel railing or handrail


Collage-of-images for repair of handrail, aluminum railing, guard railing and steel railing. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2018

We repair and install new outdoor handrail such as aluminum railing, steel outdoor stair railings, stainless steel railing and guard railing. In fact, majority of outdoor handrails are repair in place and on-site and this also refers to outdoor stair railings and guard railings. Moreover, it is important to realize that we specialize in outdoor aluminum railing repairs due to highly demanded service.

Our repairs reduce the safety hazards

As a matter of fact, our objective is to reduce the hazards caused by cracked, rusted, and broken structures in commercial, industrial and residential maintenance projects. Additionally, we also fabricate and install new handrail and railing from materials described above. However, we realize that property managers first try to increase the utilization time of existing handrails. Therefore, first, we want to repair what you have. Then, if absolutely necessary or due to the need of very extensive repairs, we propose fabrication of new handrails. Certainly, safety concerns lead us in outdoor stair railings and guard railings categories influencing our decision.

By the same token, our welding services offered for damaged guard railings, outdoor stair railings and outdoor handrail vary pending their sustained damage and material used.  And, certainly, we focus on reduction of cost for welding repairs. However, generally speaking, welding repairs of aluminum handrail appears to be most expensive but also most popular due to multiple cracks. Then stainless handrail probably follows with intensive cracks. The lest costly are welding repairs of steel railing damaged by rust. In most cases, we just replace the bottom portions of the posts to prolong the steel handrail utilization time.

We tend to accomplish most welding on site for aluminum, stainless steel and steel structures and only in very specific situations we resort to welding shop environment.

Repair of aluminum railing or stainless-steel handrail

Repair of aluminum railings or stainless steel handrail requires different welding equipment, welding consumables and different welding skills. These new, aluminum and stainless steel structures are much more expensive and later much costlier to repair. Most managers see aluminum railing as a better replacement for steel structure since it resist corrosion and looks good. The stainless railing is mandatory at pools due to its high corrosion resistance and where a shiny stainless steel look is needed.

Repairs of aluminum railing.

Aluminum railing, generally speaking, resists corrosion. That is why more and more owners prefer this material. Unfortunately, most of the property managers forget that aluminum corrosion is a significant factor in damaging bottom of the posts that are being affected by snow melting substances. Additionally, these aluminum structures sustain damages due to vandalism. Vandals bend aluminum structures and try to remove web prongs.

Weld repair of aluminum railing which serves as guard railing for walkway close to the river. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2016 Weld repair of aluminum railing which serves as guard railing for walkway close to the river. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2016

Most certainly, cracks are the most common structural damages of aluminum railing. These cracks develop due to

  1. deficient welding technique,
  2. improper selection of welding consumable: wire or rod
  3. too significant thickness differences between welded elements that makes aluminum welding much more difficult, or
  4. impact

In our crack repair service of aluminum railing and handrail, we focus on repair cracks and replacement of bent elements instead of fabrication of a new structure.

For aluminum railing crack repairs we use

  1. our special aluminum welding rods that provide good results if aluminum walls is thicker than 3/16”,
  2. push-pull gun with 5xxx wire,
  3. spool gun with 5xxx thin aluminum wire, or
  4. combination of all these techniques.

All gas shielded techniques require welding tent to weld the aluminum railing and sometimes placing a welding tent is simply not feasible in windy conditions. Therefore in such cases, we resort to stick welding aluminum railing. Then, all welds are smoothed with our abrasives.

Stick welding aluminum railing

The most comfortable technique is stick welding aluminum with our 4xxx welding rod since the repair can be done on-site in any weather conditions and on any bridge. In fact, our aluminum welding rod helps us to accomplish projects on many bridges in Ontario. Since the aluminum railing on bridge could be consider a guard railing, the strength of if must be sufficient and repairs must be done promptly.

Mig welding aluminum railing

We use less often our spool gun with our thicker aluminum wire in on-site welding. The wind impacts significantly our mig aluminum welding of handrails since it blows away the shielding gas. In less windy conditions, our welder prefers a shielding umbrella since it is more portable than the welding tent. Erecting the tent for welding in windy conditions is the last resort since it is not portable and increases the cost significantly.

The cracks on very thin aluminum railings are done in the shop with our thinnest 5xxx wire using spool gun. In our welding shop, we have, additional regulations, proper setup control and we do not have to worry about wind.

Repair of stainless steel handrail

The stainless steel handrail is a common fixture in any inside or outside pool. And stainless-steel railing develops material cracks and weld cracks due to temperature fluctuations and inability to expand or contract freely due to the handrail or railing structure.

Weld repair of crack in stainless steel railing. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2017 Weld repair of crack in stainless steel railing. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2017

Repairs of stainless steel handrail are complicated. These complications refer to:

  1. stainless steel alloy,
  2. thickness of material,
  3. shape of the crack, and
  4. access to power.

The stainless steel alloy impacts corrosion resistance and low quality older structures are prone to pitting. The low quality of stainless steel alloy displays typical rust discoloration leading to more severe rust damages. The situation can lead to a very strange procedures used by maintenance crew that attempts to remove rust from a low quality stainless steel handrail. Cracks developed in rusted low quality stainless steel handrail are difficult to repair.

Stainless steel handrails have very thin walls

The main difficulties in cracks repair of more modern and better quality of stainless steel handrail refer to thickness of material. The handrail just look good with its decent diameter size elements. However, this material is so thin that GTAW welding cracks located at some distance from T joint assembly can result in holes. In such cases, we have to resort to welding  with the thinnest wire on our GMAW welding machine. Using our Mig machine, we attempt to increase the thickness of the surrounding the crack material and then weld the crack. Once again the stainless handrail in pool environment plays a role of guard railing and safety is paramount here.

Some cracks in stainless steel handrail are very long and repairing them in place is difficult and time consuming. In such cases, we tend to replace the section instead of repairing the crack.

Access to power is always challenging in these projects. In outside pools we can draw power from generator for our precise Tig or Mig machines. But in this environment we must deal with windy conditions resulting with erection of welding tent. Therefore, we tend to approach repair of these structures in our welding shop, it this is possible.

Access to power in indoor pool is always challenging and requires long extension cords and long setup. Fortunately, we do not have to deal with windy conditions there.

Repairs of outdoor stair railing and steel handrail

The outdoor stair railing, steel railing and handrail rusts and even if you paint it regularly, within your property maintenance regime, every few years, it will still rust. We only weld repair the corrosion and rust affected areas by replacing them with new thick material. In this way, we avoid installation of  new structures. Therefore, we reduce cost of repair and increase utilization time.

Repair of steel railing and guard railing in front of Tim Hortons. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, St. Thomas, Ontario, 2018 Repair of steel railing and guard railing in front of Tim Hortons. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, St. Thomas, Ontario, 2018

The material for old railing and handrail is usually much thicker in comparison to new structures. The modern structures just look bulky and strong. But in reality their very thin material develops holes quickly once the rust or corrosion settles. Therefore, our effort focus on preservation of thicker structure with replacement of parts with elements as thick or thicker as the old structure.

The steel railing and handrail post cause the most problems

In most projects, the affected by rust or corrosion areas are located at the bottom of the posts. Sometimes, even the base plate is in fairly good shape but the first 8” – 10” is corroded and holes are showing up through. The fabricator uses HSTS or black pipe for structure’s post.  Over the years, the post bottom becomes much thicker at the bottom which is a standard sign of rust penetration.

Rusted bottom of the steel handrail post. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2018 Rusted bottom of the steel handrail post. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2018

We replace bottom of the posts (up to 16”) with twice thicker material for all railing and handrail affected by corrosion or rust. If necessary, we also replace base plates that will be thicker and slightly bigger to accommodate anchoring.

Stair railing welding repair. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2014 Stair railing welding repair. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2014

We use our flux cored welding machine to Mig weld the cracks on thin walled steel handrail structure. In this way, the weld repair can be done practically anywhere and at any weather. Most of the weld repairs are done on-site.

Repair of steel railing which serves as guard railing on the ramp. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2018 Repair of steel railing which serves as guard railing on the ramp. Made by JW Portable Welding & Repair, London, Ontario, 2018

Therefore, we drastically reduce the cost of weld repair in comparison to whole structure replacement. And we reduce the hazard time of faulty handrail or faulty railing due to quick turnover welding service.