Adding Foot Rails to Your Bar
When it comes to bar add-ons, installing bar foot rail should be at the top of your list. Foot rails, or bar rails, or bar foot rails, are available in various styles and finishes, to fit your personal style and preferences. Plus, they’re customizable so you can make them work with a bar of any shape or size. Looking to do a DIY bar foot rail installation? It’s easier than you would think:
Bar Rail Components List
There are as many as six components in a bar foot rail system. You may not need all of them, but depending on the size and shape of your bar, you may need each to provide a comfortable place to rest your feet:
- Tubing: Tubing is the metal rail where your feet rest.
- Brackets: Bar rail brackets connect your bar rail to your bar and/or the floor. We have a variety of options to match the look and setup you’re trying to achieve.
- End caps: End caps are the component where your bar rail comes to an end, of which we have decorative and standard options.
- Elbows: Elbows connect your bar rail at curves or angles.
- Splicers: Splicers go on the inside of your bar rail tubing to connect two pieces when you need longer than 8-feet of bar rail to fit your bar’s dimensions.
- Wall flanges: depending on the setup of your bar, you may not need to use flanges. However, if installing against a wall or mounting to a floor, this component may be necessary for proper installation.
Before You Order Your Bar Rails
Planning is important to ensure that you purchase the correct components needed for your foot rail. Remember that you will need at least three main components: tubing, brackets and end caps. You may also need tube splices, elbows or wall flanges, depending on your bar’s layout.
Here are simple steps to take before your order, to ensure that you get exactly what you will need for the perfect foot rail system.
Step 1: Determine how much bar rail tubing you will need
You should measure very carefully before you order bar foot railing. First, measure each side of the bar that will have a foot railing and make a simple sketch of your foot rail.
It’s helpful to make a virtual rail on the floor around your bar, with string or painters’ tape; doing this will help you to visualize how much space you’ll need for your foot rail.
Once you have laid out your design on the floor, measure each section to calculate how much tubing you will need. Tubing is sold in lengths of 2-feet, 4-feet, and 8-feet. If your bar is longer than 8-feet, you may have to join two pieces of tubing together to make a rail that fits your bar perfectly. Connecting the pieces is easy with a splicer, an internal connector that you insert into the end of each tube. We also offer bar rail kits of 6-feet and 8-feet lengths for maximum installation ease.
When you’re determining the length of a tube that will be connected to an elbow and joined with another tube (to round a corner), remember to include the dimensions of your bracket in your measurements.
When ordering tubing, it’s always wise to round up to the nearest foot. If your bar is not an even full foot increment (i.e. 6′, 7′), but rather has some inch increment (i.e. 6’2″, 7’2″) you will need to order up to the next foot. So if your bar is 3’2″ you will need to order a 4-foot piece of tubing, if your bar is 7’2″ you will need to order an 8-foot piece of tubing, and so on. When installing your tubing you will need to cut the rail with a miter saw. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to cut off excess tubing than it is to connect more.
Step 2: Select the type of bar foot rail brackets you will use
To support your foot rail you’ll need to install brackets that hold the tubing in place and provide stability for the tubing. Consult our Bar Foot Rail Brackets Guide to learn about the look, height, and function of the many bracket styles we offer. There are bracket styles that mount right to the bar face, floor mounting brackets and combination style brackets to choose from and all available in an assortment of finishes. Select brackets that match the finish of your tubing, so they too will match the look and feel of your bar.
You’ll want to make sure your foot rail has the right amount of support, so you’ll need a bracket 6 inches from the end of your tubing or elbow and an additional bracket for every 3-4 feet of tubing to ensure that your foot rail is nice and sturdy. For example, if you have 8 feet of tubing, you’ll need 1 bracket on each end and 1 in the center, for a total of 3 brackets.
Step 3: Check whether you need any elbows, splicers, or wall flanges to complete your setup
There are elbows with 90- and 135-degree bends, so you can choose which works best with the layout of your bar. Once you’ve determined how many brackets, splicers and elbows you’ll need for your project, make a detailed list of those parts, including sizes and quantities. A written list will be a huge help when ordering.
Measuring for brackets and fittings is especially important when your foot rail turns corners. For example, if you select a bracket that holds the rail 6-inches from the face of the bar, that bracket will add nearly 6-inches to the overall length of rail you will need. So, add the length of the bracket, minus the dimensions of the elbow you will be using.
Step 4: Select the finish that you would like to use
This is the most fun step. Shop by finish to choose from the many we offer, which allows you to match your bar rail tubing and other components to the unique look and feel of your bar:
- Brushed Stainless Steel
- Polished Stainless Steel
- Brushed Brass
- Polished Brass
- Oil Rubbed Bronze
- Matte Black
- Industrial Black Pipe
- Gunmetal Grey
- Sunset Copper
- Unstained Wood
Check out our Bar Rail Maintenance Sheet to learn more about caring for the different finishes we offer. For outdoor use, we recommend choosing the option of clear-coating for your bar rail when you order with us. This is a more costly option and may add 1-2 weeks of delivery time, but it will allow you to maintain your bar rail’s shine over time even if it is used for an outdoor bar.
Choose a finish you like based on its look, as well as one that you are willing to perform the required amount of maintenance on. As you’ll see from the sheet, some finishes are easier to maintain than others. Once you’ve decided on the finish you like, you’ll have to take some basic measurements to determine how much tubing you’ll need for your bar.
Step 5: Select the type and number of end caps
Adding end caps to your foot rail adds style and a finished look. You can choose from rounded, flat or decorative end caps that all come in a variety of finishes. Whether your end caps are sleek and simple or detailed and ornate, either way they’re super easy to install! Check out our simple trick on how to attach bar foot rail end caps.
If you’re looking to use metal end caps with a wooden rail, just make sure to select end caps that are marked as “external fittings”. External Fittings are components that fit around the outer diameter the tubing and our wooden rails are solid, so your end caps need to fit around the wood.
Completing Your Bar Rail Installation
Tools You’ll Need
- Electric Drill/Electric Screwdriver
- Hack Saw/Cut-off Saw (if you need to cut tubing)
- Phillips Screwdriver
- File (if you need to cut tubing)
- Channel Lock Pliers
Preparing for Installation
When installing bar foot rails, preparation is key. A little bit of prep will eliminate waste and/or mistakes. Though not applicable to every install, there are some special circumstances that may apply to your situation:
You may have to make adjustments to the length of the tubing that you purchase, to make it the perfect size for your bar. If you need to cut or lengthen the standard lengths or tubing, it is necessary for you to make those adjustments before assembling your system. To do this, first, measure and mark where you will need to cut your tubing. When determining tube cut lengths, keep in mind that the splicing joints should be hidden within a bracket. Make sure that you double-check all of your measurements before you cut. Tubing typically comes in lengths from 2-feet to 8-feet, so if the front face of your bar is 9-feet you will need to buy an 8-foot piece of tubing and a 2-foot piece of tubing. You’ll want to cut the 2-foot piece and join the two sections.
For Brass Tubing:
- You can use either a hacksaw or a powered radial arm saw to cut brass tubing.
- It is very important that your cuts be square to the length of the tube.
- If you are using a hacksaw, use a miter box to be sure your cuts are straight.
- If you are using a powered radial saw arm, use a fine-toothed blade or an abrasive wheel.
- After cutting the rail, you will want to file it to smooth the edge.
For Stainless Steel Tubing:
- Stainless steel is a harder alloy than brass so for stainless steel tubing you’ll want to use a powered radial arm saw with a carbide tip blade.
- It is very important that your cuts be square to the length of the tube.
- As with the brass tubing, you’ll want to file stainless steel after you’ve cut it, to smooth the edge.
To join two pieces of tubing together, you will need to insert internal connectors called splices. Splices are typically metal pieces that are inserted into the end of each tube. We’re fond of brass splices, as brass is softer and easier to bend and insert into tubing.
To insert a splice into a tube, compress the splice with a pair of channel lock pliers and push the splice into the end of the first piece of tubing. Then, do the same with the other end of the splice and insert it into the second piece of tubing that you want to connect.
For the best look, you’ll want to make sure that that the not-so-good looking joints are concealed inside of a fitting.
Once your tubing is the ideal length, loosely assemble the foot rail by sliding the tubing through the brackets. Don’t get too excited and get ahead of yourself, you don’t want to attach tubing to the brackets with setscrews, or attach the brackets to wall just yet.
Next, you’ll want to use a pencil to mark where your brackets will go on the bar face. To hold the screws in place, the bracket requires a solid backing at least 3/4-inch deep, so now is a good time to make sure that your surface is able to support the brackets.
Using wall studs is ideal, when installing anything that will bear weight and provide support. If it isn’t possible to use studs, you can use a wall anchor instead, however it is important to determine the correct size and type that you need.
Should you require wall anchors, we suggest a trip to your local hardware store. Wall anchors come in a variety of sizes and types. The professionals at the hardware store should be able to answer any questions that you might have regarding the best wall anchor for your job.
Once you are comfortable with the placement of your brackets and rails, you’re ready to attach them to your bar or wall.
Begin by attaching the brackets securely to the wall with mounting screws along the first straight section of your bar.
If you’re installing your rail around a corner, you’ll need to securely attach the elbow to the installed foot rail first. Then, attach the second loosely assembled foot rail section to the elbow.
Once all of your brackets are firmly installed, secure the loose tubing to the brackets with setscrews.
You’re almost done! All that’s left to do is attach your end caps and secure any finials and elbows.
Some end caps require setscrews whereas others simply slide into or over your tubing.
If your end caps do require setscrews, it is possible that you may need to drill pilot holes to attach them.
If you’re using a wall flange in place of a support bracket, make sure to slide the flange onto the tube before securing that section of foot rail to the bar. Remember that you can only replace a support bracket with a flange, if the flange is mounted to a solid backing.
We’re all about convenience here at KegWorks, so when you buy foot rail components from us, the setscrews that come with them are self-drilling/self-tapping.
Adding Arm Rests to Your Bar
Completed your bar foot rail installation and looking to tackle your next bar project? Arm rests, or bar rail molding, add comfort and a professional touch to your bar. You can get them in metal or unstained wood to keep your look and feel consistent.
Wooden Bar Arm Rests
If you go with wooden arm rests, the first thing you’ll want to do is check out our blog on choosing and installing this vital component. Stain or paint the arm rests to match your bar and give them plenty of time to dry completely.
Follow the instructions on the blog to complete this process. It is most common to glue the lip of the arm rest to the front corner of the bar and then use finishing nails to secure it. Then, you can brace the underside of the arm rest with a 1″ x 4″ (or appropriate sized) piece of wood, depending on how far the top of the bar overhangs the front.
Handrails, or metal arm rests, are a very similar install to bar foot rails and also available in several finishes. Just like foot rails, metal arm rests have 3 components: the rail, the bracket, and the end caps. First, the rail extends the length of the bar and gives people something to lean on. The brackets are used to connect the rails to the bar and hold the rail up. The brackets should be installed at least every 4-feet to make sure the rails don’t bend. To make your bar look swanky and polished, the end caps go on both ends of the rail.