A professional looking stairway and landing railing can be accomplished even by the woodworking novice. Here are the key tips to success:
1) Prefab: The key trick is to buy pre-made railing materials!
I actually used materials from two styles of railing. I used the posts and rail from one and the rot iron balusters from another style.
Buy the materials from one of the big box stores and ask for help in selecting what you need. Bring an exact measurement of the stair and landing. They will take it from there.
Take a picture of the location, from several angles, and bring it with you
2) The 3.5-inch rule. In most jurisdictions the balusters must be no further apart than 4 inches.
3) Measure Twice - Cut Once. This stuff is expensive - always check your measurements. It is difficult to cut it longer.
4) Use SHARP Drill bits! The tolerances are very close when drilling the hide-y holes for the connecting hardware. Use the right size, and type of drill bits, and make sure they are sharp. Be patient when drilling - check your dept of hole often.
5) Dry fit and layout your pieces often. Get a second pair of hands and temporarily stand the railing. Does it look right?
6) Get Matching Touch-up Paint! YES! You are going to make a mistake, chip a rail, or need to paint your end cuts.