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Front Porch Railings

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 porch railing designs from which to choose.

You can choose to create a balustrade (the complete railing system) to reflect your own style and desires or you can reflect the architectural style of your home.

porch railings add loads of curb appeal to your porch

Let's start exploring the beauty of railings

classic front porch with American flag

We love the beautiful turned balusters on this wonderful porch in Cape May NJ.

the homeowner added a middle handrail

The kind homeowner shared another picture with us to show how they added a middle handrail to their wonderful porch - for safety for their elderly neighbors. Doesn't it look like it has always been there? We sure think so!

the homeowner added a middle handrail and here you see it straight on

And here you can see how their porch looks straight on. Just wonderful and how helpful to have that handrail in the middle of their spacious porch steps.

beautiful balustrade with triple balusters
Photo courtesy of ngdcatlady

The railings and hanging baskets make this porch

Selecting the right material, knowing the railing codes, and understanding how to calculate and space your balusters are all part of your balustrade system. We have all that information and more to help you design the perfect railings for your home!

Beautiful blue home with Vintage Woodworks porch railings

Photo courtesy of Vintage Woodworks

Lovely porch railings and trim like the above is from Vintage Woodworks. Classic, timeless and charming!

custom designed balusters

Photo courtesy of The Porch Company

Beautiful railings like these from The Porch Company make for an elegant porch

Whether your front porch railings are wooden, metal, glass or composites, it's all about finding the right look to suit your personal tastes. Our porch railing design center below is a great place to start.

Front Porch Railing Design Center

Use our Design Center Guide below to plan your porch railing system, normally called a balustrade.

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.

Often times; however, you may have to either 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.

NOTE: Your railings must comply with local building codes. 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 porch railings.

See our porch railing spacing and calculations guide for additional information.

Porch Railing Design Directory

square porch balusters
Wood Deck Railings
Wood balusters offer design options you may not have previously considered.
read more
Turned porch balusters
Turned Porch Balusters
Turned balusters come in a wide array of designs and very popular
read more

sawn porch balusters
Sawn Porch Balusters
Sawn porch balusters are amazingly decorative. Use with or without other porch trim to create a work of art on your porch.
read more
aluminum railings
Aluminum Railings
Aluminum porch railing is maintenance free and can be attached to wood or metal. Easy to install
read more

steel cable railings
Stainless Steel Cable Railings
Cable railing systems are versatile, almost maintenance free and don't block your view. And, they come in DIY kits too
read more
tempered glass panel
Glass Deck Railings
Glass brings a touch of elegance and offers you a most unrestricted view. Check out what you "won't" see!
read more

custom lattice panels
Lattice Panels
Custom vinyl lattice is an affordable and decorative way to create a unique railing system.
read more
vinyl porch railings on front porch
Vinyl Porch Railing Ideas
Discover the world of custom vinyl porch railings....

read more

solid front porch knee wall
Knee Walls
Knee walls provide privacy and protect you from the elements. Don't rule them out as an option for your porch
read more
wrought iron balustrade
Wrought Iron Railings
Wrought iron porch railings offer unparalleled elegance and durability
read more

assembling balusters for front porch railings
Railings Code Guide
To learn basic code requirements before you build or plan for your porch railings.
read more
custom wood baluster design on front porch
Railings Materials Guide
To find just the right material - you'll be pleasantly surprised at all your options.
read more

railings spacing guide graphic
Railing Spacing and Calculations Guide
Use to install or build railings. We've got just the information you need to make the job easier!
read more

Video: Our Overview of Porch Railings

Part two of our Front Porch Designs videos

Video: Our Overview of Porch Railings

Part two of our Front Porch Designs videos

Lattice Panels - Photos courtesy of Acurio Latticeworks

You have several options for lattice panels to include treated lumber, cedar, or vinyl. Mary and I prefer custom vinyl lattice (as shown below) because it comes in many different colors and you can create your own design.

In addition, unlike treated lattice panels, vinyl lattice panels do not require any maintenance and are impervious to most weather conditions. (For those interested, custom vinyl lattice is available through Acurio Latticeworks)

Note: Whether using treated, cedar, or custom vinyl lattice panels, you must comply with local building codes regarding strength and structural integrity.

lattice panel with diamond design lattice panel with sawn baluster design

custom lattice panel with golf design lattice panel with custom sawn baluster design

If installing lattice panels yourself, consider using u-channels available at most home supply stores. They work well for almost any type panel.

Be sure to see our Vinyl Lattice Panel Photo Gallery for even more great ideas!

Cable Railings - Photos - The Wagner Companies

The Wagner Companies' Ultra-Tec® stainless steel cable railing is almost invisible so as not to block your view. It is almost maintenance free and can be installed yourself by using one of their DIY installation kits.

You can attach this cable to either metal or wood frames and install it either vertically or horizontally. That gives you options.

steel cable railings on deck steel cable railings on exterior steps

horizontal steel cable railings vertical steel cable railings on deck

horzontal cable railings as a balustrade steel cable railings on ipe deck

Learn more about stainless steel porch railings.

Video: PVC Porch Panels

The Porch Company offers customizable PVC porch railings in their store. These are nearly maintenance free and come in beautiful patterns and colors. Have your porch your way.

The Porch Company offers customizable PVC porch railings in their store. These are nearly maintenance free and come in beautiful patterns and colors. Have your porch your way.

Wrought Iron Porch Railings

Although it is one of the most expensive railings available, wrought iron stands the test of time. From the simplest designs to the most elegant, wrought iron always adds character to any porch.

wrought iron railing on front porch
photo courtesy of weldor123

Decorative by nature, you can attach ornaments such as family crests, leaves, and other designs to enhance the overall appeal.

The one drawback is that it tends to rust over time and therefore requires periodic maintenance.

very ornate wrought iron railing on porch wrought iron railing on front porch steps

curved wrought iron railing along steps of front porch

Another option is a custom designed metal railing like the one below.

leaf design wrought iron railings by Riggo Design
Metal Ivy Railing photo courtesy of Riggo Design

Knee Walls

Knee walls, once very popular, still have their charm today. I grew up on a porch with a knee wall and spent many hours playing games, hide and seek, and just pretending. Knee walls can help protect you from adverse weather, add a little privacy, and make your porch appear more grand.

concrete knee wall railing on front porch wood siding knee wall on porch

wood knee wall balustrade brick knee wall for front porch

siding front porch knee wall stucco knee wall

Photos above by J L T, FL Architect Fan and bob2006.

More Knee Wall Designs

Take a gander at these impressive knee walls we found in California. I especially like the last one that incorporates a baluster-type design within the knee wall.

beautifully painted knee wall
Knee wall colors typical match that of the home

complementary colors on home and knee wall
Excellent example of carrying color of kneewall to complement porch columns

uniquely designed knee wall with cross pattern openings
Geometric design balusters built into knee wall

vertical openings on front porch knee wall
Vertical balusters in knee wall

stone built knee wall
Stone knee wall- popular in South Pasadena, CA

brick built knee wall
Brick knee wall on Craftsman Style Front Porch

Front Porch Railing Design Considerations

Chippendale porch railings by The Porch Company, Nashville, TN
Chippendale-style porch railings by The Porch Company


Generally, you will want to match the architecture of your home. Victorian-style homes usually have ornate balustrades like shown below whereas a country porch normally reflects a simpler design.

Victorian porch railings
Photo credit - hannahla

But don't always hold to convention. Here's an excellent example of a Victorian design with unassuming square balusters. How beautiful is that!

Beautiful Victorian with square balusters

Brick homes tend to appear symmetrical and many homeowners want to add a little charm. Use a railing design to soften the overall appearance of your home to give it a more comfortable look.

In the photos below, the same herringbone-type design was selected for each. This design not only adds charm but also interest as well. See how well it works on two different brick porches.

Herringbone baluster pattern

Front porch with herringbone baluster pattern and triple columns

See how this railing remodeling project changed the overall appearance of this porch:


standard square porch balusters
photo courtesy of MrFixUmm


Custom made Chippendale porch railings
from painted Trex 2x2s
photo courtesy of MrFixUmm

Adding Wood Railings to a 1925 Porch

Now see how Lynn and her husband changed the look of their 1925 porch by adding wood railings.


Porch before with wire fence


Warm cozy feeling on the porch with colonial style balusters

Baluster Height Considerations

Consider the height of each baluster (picket). Normally, your balustrade is a minimum of 36 inches making your balusters approximately 32 inches. Depending on the height of your porch or deck from the ground, balustrades may need to be as high as 42 inches or more.

However, and depending on your local codes, you may have other options. You can almost always make them longer and sometimes can shorten them as illustrated in the photo below.

shorter turned balusters on front porch railings
Shorter turned balusters on front porch

Size (Width) Considerations

You can opt to use turned balusters that are fairly thin in width or choose more substantially looking balusters. This range of size options will also affect the overall appeal.

traditionally sized turned porch railings
Traditional size of turned balusters

bulkier turned balusters on front porch
Larger turned balusters for a more sophisticated appeal

It is important to match the size of your balusters to your porch columns (in most cases). Note how the larger porch balusters complement the size of their adjacent porch columns.

heavy looking porch balusters
Match balusters to porch columns

Spacing Considerations

The spacing of balusters also impacts the overall design affect. There are no hard and fast rules so experiment to discover what pleases you the most.

classic turned porch railings
Classic turned balusters spaced closer together

porch balusters spaced further apart
Classic turned balusters spaced at maximum 4" apart

porch balusters in clusters of three
Create clusters of balusters
(photo courtesy of ngdcatlady)

Mix and Match Baluster Designs

Another neat trick is to mix and match balusters to create unique affects like those shown below:

combination of porch railing designs on colorful front porch
Be different! Mix and match


    curved porch balusters
  • Safety is an issue (and is the major reason for having a railing system). If you have small children that play on the porch, opt for spindles that can take some punishment and not break. Choose hardwoods, vinyl, or metal.

  • Railing design becomes a safety issue as well. Although horizontal balusters satisfy most building codes, I don't recommend them on porches with children. They make great "ladders" which could prove harmful to small children.


  • Select a material that best suits your needs. Metal and vinyl railings require very little maintenance and last forever.

    Wood, although it requires routine maintenance, can be beautiful and should be used if maintaining architectural integrity is important. Panels of tempered glass or cable look fantastic on contemporary porches and allow an uninhibited view.

    Use our railing directory to investigate your options.

More Railing Design Ideas

typical square style balusters sawn balusters on front porch mix of vertical and herribone pattern balusters on front porch
vertical round logs used for balustrade unique design pattern using square balusters on front porch unique baluster pattern for front porch railings Lattice panel used for front porch balustrade natural branches used as balusters
Victorian painted wooden balusters Exquisite Victorian style front porch railings
Photo credits: ewilson248 and hannahla

The following pictures of railings are courtesy of The Porch Company

white curved style balusters example of geometric syle balustrade wooden square lattice baluster design example of creative wooden porch railings top railing on screen porch example of herringbone railing and screen door horizontal steel cable railing on screen porch steps screen porch with herringbone balustrade design wrought iron balustrade on screen porch

Beautiful Porch Railing panels with sunburst design
Photo courtesy of Scotty E

Fans or sun bursts? No matter which,
these railings make this porch unique

Architectural Style Guide See our Architectural Style Guide to give you ideas based on your home's architecture.

victorian front porch Pictures are worth gold when it comes to finding ideas for front porches. Our travels take us across the U.S. in search of the best porches. See our pictures of porches section to find a myriad of ideas you can use.

Gate Designs for Your Porch

Video: Make a Porch Gate from a Section of Railing

Rolling Gate

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.

Just add hinges to it and rolling casters at the bottom. Then close with a latch (or even a bungee cord).

See Lori's Gate for Her Porch

Lori's porch gate

Lori and her husband were looking for a lightweight gate that wouldn't sag on her porch. She had the idea of purchasing a vinyl fence panel, cutting it, then attaching hinges and a latch.

The panel they purchased had to be assembled. They removed two pickets because they needed a smaller size. Her husband used a circular saw to cut the vinyl - which she said took just a few minutes. He pre-drilled the holes on the wooden porch columns and they had it up and together in probably an hour.

Their gate keeps their dogs and cat on the porch and it looks very attractive, too. Do you have other ideas for a gate on your porch? Please share with us.

Close-up of Lori's porch gate

Here's a close-up of Lori's gate from inside her porch. The hinges and latches are attractive and the gate style adds interest to her porch railing.

Lori says the gate is so lightweight that there is no need for wheels.

Lori's home has a beautiful wraparound porch

Lori's home has a beautiful wraparound porch and the gate looks terrific. Want to see how Lori made those porch curtains?

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Porch railings can give your porch delightful personality

Hope you got some great ideas for your porch railings. They need not be boring.

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