How to Replace a Wooden Porch Railing

Replacing a wooden porch railing is a fairly quick and straightforward job for anyone who is comfortable with basic carpentry skills. A wooden porch railing will need replacing when it becomes rotten due to years of weather and/or lack of adequate maintenance. A broken railing on the stairs or the side of the porch is also a safety hazard, rather defeating the purpose of even having a railing in the first place. The best time to replace the porch railing is as soon as you notice that it is falling away from the posts or rotting. Make sure that the weather is forecast to by dry when carrying out the repairs.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • New wooden porch railing
  • Saw
  • Wood stain or paint (and primer)
  • Paint brushes
  • Measuring tape
  • Nails or screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer

Step 1 – Remove the Old Railing

The old railing will be attached in place using screws, nails, wood glue or a combination of two of these. Before you remove the old railing, measure the length of it and obtain a similar railing from your local home improvement store. You will still need to cut the new railing to the right length in most cases, but more on this later.

To remove the old railing, be careful not to damage any of the existing posts or other components that are in otherwise perfectly good condition and do not need replacing. Use a claw hammer to remove any nails and gently pry away the railing from the stands, using patience to ensure that no unnecessary damage is done in the process.

Step 2 – Cut the New Porch Railing to Size

Using the measurements that you recorded earlier, cut the new railing to the correct length. Make sure that you cut it so that it fits snugly between the 2 rail posts. The choice of railing that you use is entirely up to you. You can purchase ready-made railings from your local home improvement store and there are also special decorative ones available in many places. Alternatively, you can use plain lumber so long as it is appropriate for exterior usage. Go with whichever type of railing best suits your porch and cut it to the right length using a wood saw.

Step 3 – Set the New Railing in Place

Secure the new railing to the posts using either nails or screws. Either works just as well. Be sure that the porch railing is completely secure and does not have any give in it as you hold onto it while moving up and down the stairs. Likewise, if you are replacing a railing on the side of the porch, make sure that it is sturdy. If the posts are rotten or damaged in some other way, they will need replacing before you can attach the new railing.

Step 4 – Finishing Touches

The new railing will need to be treated in order to protect it from the weather. This is essential to preserve the wood and prevent it from rotting too quickly. Use an appropriate wood stain or paint for the job. If painting, be sure to apply the proper layers. Start by applying a coat of wood primer, followed by an undercoat and a final coat.