Building a porch railing is a way to enclose your porch and prevent guests or small children from falling over the side. Most municipal codes require that a porch structure that is at least 3 feet off the ground must have rail enclosure built, at least 3 feet high. You may also need to check with your local building inspector’s office to determine whether a building permit is needed.
Building a porch rail system is a task that is easy to do. You may require assistance with the building process but most home improvement centers have pre-cut and pre-made rail systems that are precut to code and only require installation.
Step 1: Purchase Porch Railing
Select pre-formed porch rails and balusters. The balusters are the supports between the top and bottom rail. You will need to purchase enough 2 X 6 railing and 2 X 2 balusters to form the railing.
A home improvement center or lumberyard maintains an inventory of these materials. You may also choose to purchase pressure treated 2 X 6 lumber for the rails and 2 X 2 lumber that has been cut to size to form the balusters.
Step 2: Assemble the Bottom Rails
Position the balusters into the bottom 2 X 6 rails and secure using galvanized screws. Hot-dipped galvanized screws are specially designed for outdoor use and will not rust or corrode because of exposure to weather. This will prevent the wood from rotting away at the point where the screws were inserted.
Use a drill to preset the holes for the screws and into each of the individual balusters. Attach the balusters into the rail from the bottom.
Step 3: Assemble the Top Rails
Position the top rail on top of the balusters and use galvanized nails to secure. You will need to place two nails in each of the balusters from the top in order to secure the rail tightly. Use a level to make sure that the top and bottom rail are flush and level as you place the nails.
At the end of the rails, attach a 2 X 4 support brace. This brace will be attached to the posts in the front of the rail and the house on each of the side rails. Drill 2 pilot holes into the brace in order to place the lag bolts.
Step 4: Secure the Rail to the Porch
Place the rails into position on the porch. You should have assembled 3 porch rails, 1 for the front of the porch and 1 for each size. The rails will need to be fastened to the end posts on the porch and the house. Use the lag bolts and ratchet to secure the braces for each of the rails into the posts.
Step 5: Paint
Once you have secured the rails to the house, apply paint to the rails and balusters. If you painted the wood before installation, sand out any rough spots and apply an additional coat of paint to the wood. Allow the paint to dry and you are now ready to enjoy your porch rails.