Installing Porch Railings
Mahogany Porch Railing and Balusters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- railing height: 36″ to 42″
- baluster spacing: 4″
- post-to-baluster spacing: 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.
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.