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.

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Like many components of your porch, you have many porch railing designs; 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



classic front porch with American flag
Beautiful turned balusters on a Cape May NJ front porch



custom designed balusters
Custom railings like these are available at The Porch Company's Porch Store!
Whether your front railings are wooden, metal, glass or composites, it's all about finding the right look to suit your personal tastes. Our railing design center below is a great place to start.


Use Our 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 railings.

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


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Porch Railing Design Directory

custom lattice panels
Lattice Panels
Custom vinyl lattice is an affordable and decorative way to create a unique railing system.
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aluminum railings
Aluminum Railings
Aluminum porch railing is maintenance free and can be attached to wood or metal. Easy to install
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
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



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
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
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 railings offer unparalleled elegance and durability
read more



custom wood baluster design on front porch
Railings Materials Guide
To find just the right material - you'll be pleasantly surprised at your options.
read more
round laurel wood railings on front porch
Mountain Laurel Porch Railings
See these amazing railings made from beautiful mountain laurels
read more



non-continuous hand rails on front porch
Porch Hand Rails
See all of your options for porch hand rails and materials - great photo examples too!
read more



Video: Our Overview of Porch Railings

Part two of our Front Porch Designs videos



beautiful balustrade with triple balusters
Aesthetically pleasing porch railing design
Photo courtesy of ngdcatlady
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!
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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



open spaced brick kneewall
Open spaced brick kneewall
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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



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


Architecture

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
Victorian porch railings
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:

BEFORE


standard square porch balusters AFTER


Chippendale designed Porch balusters


Trex 2x2 Chippendale pattern Porch balusters
Custom made Chippendale 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.

BEFORE


Porch before with wire fence


AFTER

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


Safety

    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.

Materials

  • 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.
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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 railings.

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.
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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.


the homeowner added a middle handrail





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