Installing Porch Railings

By Robert Robillard on Decks And Porches

Installing Porch RailingsMahogany Porch Railing and BalustersInstalling Porch Railings

This method is useful for making porch and deck railings.

For this project I prefer using the pre-molded mahogany railing and often use it for both the top and bottom horizontal railing.

I use this method to cut my mahogany balusters.  This allows me to make multiple and consistently sized cuts. Your results will be consistently accurate with no measuring required.

Top Rail

The top mahogany rail has a 1-1/2″ by 1/2″ deep dado plowed out of the  bottom of it.  The mahogany balusters will fit into this dado but would need to be direct nailed down through the top of the handrail.  I don’t like this method because it introduced water into the nail hole and accelerates wood rot.

I prefer ripping a 2×4 mahogany  down to a 1-1/2″ bt 1″ strips.  The mahogany strips are the same size of the railings and are used to hold the balusters together.

Baluster Layout

I layout my mahogany balusters and then nail then to each strip.   Many building codes specify that a 4″ ball must not be able to pass between balusters.

Installing Porch Railings

For decorative purposes or to ensure the balusters at the end of the railing don’t have to be closer than the others to make them fit, you can install balusters closer together than the code requires.  I used a 5.5″ on center spacing layout to get 4″ between balusters.

Porch railings and deck railings are required for any platform higher than 30 inches above the ground and for stairs with more than five steps.  Check your local building codes to ensure you are following their specifications.

Railing Heights

A typical height of a porch railing or deck railing is usually between 30 and 40 inches.  I chose 38″ for a comfortable height.

Typical specs for deck railings that you should verify with the building codes in your area:

  1. railing height: 36″ to 42″
  2. baluster spacing: 4″Installing Porch Railings
  3. post-to-baluster spacing: 4″
  4. deck-to-bottom rail spacing: 2″ to 4″

The mahogany railings are then installed next.  I use a 2×4 on the deck to keep a consistent 3-1/2″ spacing off the mahogany deck.  This spacing also makes it easy to clear off the porch deck of snow.

Bottom Railing

I install the bottom railing first, then the baluster unit, then the top rail.

Using stainless steel screws  I toe nail the fasteners through the mahogany railings to secure the railing to the newel posts.

I also use shorter stainless steel screws to secure the baluster into to the top and bottom railings.Installing Porch Railings

Installing Porch Railings

Installing Porch Railings

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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