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How To Build Porch Railing

Fabulous Front Porch Railings

How to Build a Porch Rail | This Old House

There’s no denying that front porch railings not only provide safety but also will give your porch some real pizzazz! Even if not required by your local building codes, railings add charm and curb appeal.Like many components of your porch, you have many railing design choices.Choose to create a balustrade to reflect the architectural style of your home while incorporating your own desires.

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Updating or even replacing porch railings is an easy way to change the look of your home. Fortunately, some options are maintenance free.

Most home supply stores will carry the basic top and bottom rails with a choice of a few traditional spindles. Or, you can find more custom designs at manufacturers like Vintage Woodworks or The Porch Company.Often times however, you may need to make the railings yourself or hire a contractor to cut and assemble the balustrade. Whatever path you choose, our guide should help you select the best railing design for your home.

How To Build Porch Railing

This step by step diy project is about how to build porch railing. Building porch railing is a complex project, but anyone with basic skills can get the job done. Work with attention and with great care before starting the actual construction project. Take a look over the rest of the deck projects, as there are many techniques and tricks that you could learn or just get an idea of the steps required.

After you make the frame of the front porch, we recommend you to attach the railing. As you will see in this detailed tutorial, making the railing is an easy job, if you take accurate measurements and you use professional tools. Make sure you cut the bottom ends of the balusters at 45 degrees, as to enhance the look of the porch. In addition, pay attention to the handrail joints.

As we always emphasize, you should adjust the size of the porch to your needs. Therefore, you need to modify the size of the components to the appropriate dimensions, but you can still use the guidelines shown in this article. Dont forget that you shouldnt leave more 4 between the balusters. Moreover, take a look over the local building codes, to get accustomed with the legal requirements.

Choose Cable Porch Railings For Modern Spaces

If the effect you want to create is minimalist and streamlined, cable railings are the perfect choice for your porch. They are also a great choice for making a small porch feel larger, for maximizing the view beyond and for allowing as much of a breeze as possible to penetrate a stuffy space.

Cable railings, though modern in finish, needn’t just be limited to modern homes you can see here that designer Christie Manning of CQM Interiors has used them to complement her period home’s architecture.

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What Is The Purpose Of Railing


Railing serves several purposes. First, it provides a visual barrier between an enclosed space and the outside world. This can be important for both safety and privacy. Second, it can provide support for those who need it, such as the elderly or the infirm. Third, it can be used to decorated an otherwise plain space. Finally, it can be used to delineate different areas within a space, such as a patio or deck.

Round The Bend Keep It On The Level

Cheap Porch Railing Ideas / 63 most unique rustic farmhouse porch decor ...

After the first porch railing was in, we came around the corner and put the first 8 piece in, after trimming it for length. Make sure the adjacent top rails are at the exact same height, here and anywhere different rail sections come together, or it will look like crap. We attached the top and bottom brackets to the corner post, then leveled the railing across to the next post to determine where to attach the brackets. Shockingly, the porch wasnt quite level, which meant our under-rail supports werent long enough.

Our brilliant solution was to take one of the leftover spindles and cut pieces from it to fit the gap between the floor and the bottom of the rail, attaching them to the bottom railing with silicone caulk. The spindles are the same size as the support brackets, so it keeps the original look, and unless the improvised support pieces take a direct hit or two, they should stay in place with no problem.

The other front piece went on the same way we made sure it was at the same height as the adjacent piece, leveled it across and attached it, made some custom support legs, and siliconed them into place. The second end piece was off on its own, so we just put it in place at the support leg height, leveled and plumbed it, and screwed it into place.

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Quotes From Contractors Were Sky High

I figured building new porch railings would be a good job to farm out to a contractor. I found a retired carpenter that was guaranteed to be cheaper than someone who relied on carpentry for a paycheck. I got a quote from two seasoned carpenters, including the retired one. Both quotes were in the neighborhood of $3K. Yikes! I know a skilled tradesman is hard to come by these days, but I have spent less on automobiles.

Diy Wood Porch Railing

Update: Make sure to check out the DIY wood steps tutorial, and the full porch reveal!

Today was going to be the big reveal of our front porch at the Riverside Retreata project we started working on back in Januarybut then life happened. If you missed last weeks vlog check it out to see what weve been up to:

Our intention was to finish both the backyard and front porch by March, but after a few setbacks were maybe halfway done with the exterior. Whos as excited as I am about that extra hour of daylight starting this weekend?!

Even though this post doesnt follow the typical Before + After happy ending, this blog is more about the journey, right? So lets recap the adventure from Day 1

Background story for those of you new on the scene: we went under contract and moved into this property last July, and weve been renovating it room-by-room with plans to turn it into a vacation rental after we move out. The goal was to finish shortly after moving into our Heights House, which is expected to be completed in the next 6-8 weeks. At this point, the Riverside Retreat renovation timeline is looking closer to mid-summer so the pressure is on.

The exterior facade is where I knew wed be the most limited onwe cant change the house color, windows, roofline, or any major structural/costly components. But we could update the porch!

We actually did add a window on the left side of the house when we did the reading nook, which we deemed absolutely necessary


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Porch Railing Height Building Code Vs Curb Appeal

September 20, 2014 by Ken Roginski

Porch railing height and porch design are extremely important.

The height of your porch railing will determine if your house has curb appeal or is just a clown house.

Porch railing height of 3 feet or more will destroy the look of your house and all your hard work.

Forget about your beautiful architectural features and great paint colors if you choose poorly here youll have a clown house!

Building code railing height how ugly!

The porch railing height sets the tone for everything else. The building code in your community will have a big impact on the choices you have for your porch. Let us explain the issues and show what you can do to have beautiful porch designs and curb appeal.

Aluminum Porch Railing Idea

Simple Porch Railing Build

This classic vertical railing by @gta_railings brings a modern element to the home, contrasting nicely with the red brick. According to GTA Railings, powder-coated aluminum will not rust, rot or warp and is virtually maintenance free. Wipe it down with a damp cloth seasonally and your railing will look like new for years to come.

via merchant

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Building The Main Rails

The first step was to create the main rail and attach it to the columns. I cut two 2x4s to the height I wanted the overall railing to be and screwed them to the main horizontal 2×4 railing.

Then I held the frame in place and screwed the vertical piece into the columns to secure it.

Then I added another 2×4 flat across the top, and screwed it down into both pieces below, so that everything was solid and secure.

Porch Railing Height Before & After

Here are some before and after photos of my house. Unfortunately the original 1910 balustrade was removed by the previous owner and replaced with an ugly porch railing at a height to code.

The following photos show the code railing on the left being replaced with a new architecturally correct porch railing on the right.

The code at the time must have been 32 inches because that was the height of the railing on the left. The new rail was made 5 inches lower. It is now 27 inches from the floor to the top of the railing.


See what a difference 5 inches can make.

Heres another example below.


Skinny, high, contemporary plastic porch railing does not match Victorian style.

Sawn balusters and lower hand rail match the Victorian style of this house.

In the example above, the porch rail height is just a few inches too high. The balustrade is also entirely too thin, giving the appearance of a balustrade made of toothpicks. Although I am sure it was expensive, it looks very cheap.

The balustrade on the right was installed graphically using sawn balusters to better match the Victorian style of the house.

If you like this we can do the same for your house. Contact us for consulting services to see the curb appeal possibilities for your home.

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What To Look For

Now that weve gone through some ideas, its important you get a better understanding of what to look for. You may have been overwhelmed with ideas, but some fundamental ideas still need to be covered.

Then youre not just choosing something because youre getting excited about the project but because it makes sense. It matches the house and your home.

How High Can A Porch Be Without Railings

Upgrade Your Deck and Add Finishing Touches

While there is an existing 30inches rule above ground, some building codes require railings for porches that are 15-24inches above ground. If the porch is 9ft aboveground, the railings should be supported by 42inch balusters at a maximum of 4ft spacing in between. But then again, as have been mentioned, you can install one anytime for safety.

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Porch Railing Ideas And How To Build A Porch Railing

The porch railing is the final touch on your new porch.

Sure, safety and maintenance are two important factors to keep in mind, but when youre looking at railing, theres undoubtedly an aesthetic component.

Its highly important that you choose wisely from the various styles youll run into.

When were discussing deck railing, or even porch railing for that matter, were talking about the whole unite placed at the edge, posts, handrails and panels.

Image source: Rethink Design Studio

The system works in a very similar manner for both front porch railing, and deck railing. Below, youll find plenty of information that will help you get the most, and find the best option for your project.

Video: Make A Rolling Porch Gate From A Section Of Railing

Do you have small children who like to play on the porch? Or pets you want to keep safe? You can easily make a rolling gate from a section of railings that match your porch. Watch the video above for an example that our son’s family did.Just add hinges to it and rolling casters at the bottom. Then close with a latch.

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Classic Wood Porch Railing With Integrated Lights

You love the look of a classic wooden railing but wouldnt mind making it a bit more interesting? You can quickly level up your traditional porch railing by adding some outdoor cap lights to the railing columns.

Not only will they spice up your railings aesthetics, but theyll also add some ambient light to your it, making it more atmospheric and fit for use at night.

Take A Look At Our Railing Topics

How to make deck / porch railing easy with just 2×4’s DIY Home Depot materials

PLEASE NOTE: Your railings must comply with local building codes and different locales have varying requirements. The examples we show may or may not be in compliance with codes for your own local area be sure to check with your local building codes department before installing railings.

We can’t wait for you to see the accessories you can get for your railings like this table from

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What Is The Best Material For A Porch Railing

The best material for a porch railing is one that suits both the architecture of your home and the amount of upkeep you are prepared or able to dedicate to your porch. This means that period homes are more likely to suit painted wooden or wrought iron porch railings, while modern homes are more likely to suit metal porch railings. However, this is not a hard and fast rules. As for upkeep, composite porch railings require the least upkeep, while anything painted will need touch ups every three to five years, with total renovations every five to 10 years.

Choose A Material And Style

Porch railings can be constructed from wood, metal, stone or synthetic materials. Your home style, climate and budget are the key factors in deciding which way to go.

Wooden RailingsWood is a classic, relatively inexpensive choice that suits a wide range of home styles . A simple picket railing works well for Georgian-style homes, while a more detailed, patchwork design complements Queen Anne Victorians. Craftsman bungalows often feature square patterns, as shown above. In general, more traditional homes should have railings with a greater level of detail compared to contemporary homes.

If you don’t find the right style at your home supply store, go to a lumber yard and put in a custom order. It may not cost as much as you think, and “will add a lot to the curb appeal of your house,” Demerly says. He recommends using cedar rather than pressure-treated lumber. “When you get into two-by-two’s, pressure-treated pieces have a tendency to warp really fast. Cedar is much more stable.”

Unfortunately, wooden railings are not resistant to rot. If you live in a humid climate or an area where termites are present, it’s best to consider other options.

Metal RailingsWhile not infallible, metal products are more resistant to decay . Patterns range from fanciful to stark and should be selected based on the period of the home. Picket-style iron railings enhance a historical look and are a good option for Georgian homes in climates not suited to wood.

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How Do I Decorate Porch Railings

The best way to decorate porch railings is to do so in a way that complements the architecture of your home. So if your home’s front door or window frames are painted white, it’s likely that white-painted wooden porch railings will suit best. Equally, simple designs will suit more modern, streamlined homes, while more intricate designs will work better for period homes.

Are Aluminum Railings Expensive

Mel &  Liza: DIY Deck Railings

Aluminum railings tend to be more expensive than their wood and vinyl counterparts. Still, theyre more affordable than railings made of more high-end materials . The price ranges from $40 to $55 per linear foot, excluding installation costs.

Although their price might be a bit higher, theyre worth investing in since theyre sure to give you a huge bang for your buck. Theyre sturdy, long-lasting, and can withstand any harsh weather conditions, from rain and wind to persistent UV rays.

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Cut The Top And Bottom Rails

Cutting the shoe, or bottom rail, is a breeze because it is relatively thin. The top rail is trickier. If you have a table saw, it will make the entire job much easier. I ordered one for my job. It arrived the day after I installed the last railing.

Using a circular saw, set it to the proper depth to cut the top rail. Odds are, your saw will not cut that deep, so you will have to cut the top rail from the top and from the bottom. Make sure you mark both sides. My cuts turned out pretty good, but you might want to practice first.

Pile of perfectly cut balusters

Tom Lohr

Choosing Wood For Your Porch Railing

Porch railing constructed of red cedar can be stained, painted, or left to weather on its own to a silvery gray color. White or red oak are denser and more difficult to cut than red cedar and must be sealed against the weather. Both are easy to obtain since they are found at most home centers. They stain well and they last longer than softwoods.

Extremely dense woods such as mahogany, rosewood, chestnut, and birch are beautiful and add value to your home. But these woods are quite expensive and are hard to drill and cut.

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