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Fabulous 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 design choices.

Choose to create a balustrade to reflect the architectural style of your home while incorporating your own desires.

white turned porch railings add loads of curb appeal to your porch
These are turned porch railings. Attractive, do you agree?

Updating or even replacing porch railings is an easy way to change the look of your home. Fortunately, you have many options and some are maintenance free.

porch railings add loads of curb appeal to your porch
You're in the right place for porch railing ideas

classic front porch with American flag
Do you like these turned balusters on this Cape May NJ front porch?

custom designed balusters
Where you can get custom porch railings like these: The Porch Company's Porch Store

Porch Railings: Some Fun, Zany and Creative Tidbits

Porch railings are hardly boring.

Railings have been used for centuries around the world and for various reasons from creating boundaries in castles and temples to keeping people from falling off tall walls.

Sometimes porch railings are elaborately decorated with gorgeous carvings of pineapples (a welcoming symbol) and on a more practical note, they have also been known to have built-in bottle openers and ashtrays for folks who enjoyed drinking and smoking on the porch.

Well, no ash trays or bottle openers are on our porch, but we do love knowing that in the Victorian years, railings were painted beautiful bright colors to match the home's trim colors. You can still see evidence of that today on wonderfully restored Victorian homes.

Another fun feature we enjoy is porch railings lined with planters that are overflowing with summer flowers, fragrant herbs and greenery. And lastly, we love it when homeowners add lighting to their porch railing to give their porch a soft, wondrous glow in the evening.

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.

NOTE: Your railings must comply with local building codes and different locales have varying requirements. 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.

Check out our porch railing spacing and calculations guide for additional information.

Take a Look at Our Porch Railing Design Directory

custom lattice panels
Lattice panels

Custom vinyl lattice is an affordable and decorative way to create a unique railing system.
aluminum railings
Aluminum railings

Aluminum porch railing is maintenance free and can be attached to wood or metal. Easy to install

assembling balusters for front porch railings
Railings code guide

To learn basic code requirements before you build or plan for your porch railings.
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!

painted and turned porch balusters
Wood deck railings

Wood balusters offer design options you may not have previously considered.
Turned porch balusters
Turned porch balusters

Turned balusters come in a wide array of designs and very popular

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.
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

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.
vinyl porch railings on front porch
Vinyl porch railing ideas

Discover the world of custom vinyl porch railings....

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
wrought iron balustrade
Wrought iron railings

Wrought iron railings offer unparalleled elegance and durability

custom wood baluster design on front porch
Railings materials guide

To find just the right material - you'll be pleasantly surprised at your options.
round laurel wood railings on front porch
Mountain Laurel porch railings

See these amazing railings made from beautiful mountain laurels

non-continuous hand rails on front porch
Porch Hand Rails

See your options for porch hand rails and materials - great photo examples too. See DIY Railing Systems.

porch railing table
Porch Railing Accessory Ideas

We can't wait for you to see the accessories you can get for your railings like this table from Amazon.com

Speaking of Porch Hand Rails

Did you know you can easily install metal hand rails on your porch, deck, or even in your home? Do you know someone who could benefit from having handrails to help prevent falls? This may be for you:

DIY InstantRail Adjustable Handrail Systems - Click here to learn more! (Amazon affiliate link for which we may receive a commission)

Watch Our 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 - Have You Heard of Them?

Knee walls, once very popular, still have their charm today. Look at the pictures below for examples.

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.

Now Look at These 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 often match the colors in the home - like this example

complementary colors on home and knee wall
Excellent example of coordinating the colors of the porch columns to the kneewall. Do you see?

uniquely designed knee wall with cross pattern openings
Oh! Geometric designs are built into this knee wall

vertical openings on front porch knee wall
Look closely at the vertical balusters in this knee wall

stone built knee wall
Stone knee walls are popular in South Pasadena, CA

open spaced brick kneewall
Fancy brick work creates open spaces in this kneewall
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How About Wrought Iron or Metal 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

They are decorative by nature, you can attach ornaments such as family crests, leaves, and other designs to enhance the overall appeal like the one shown below.

leaf design wrought iron railings by Riggo Design
Metal ivy railing photo courtesy of Riggo Design

One drawback may be that wrought iron tends to rust over time and therefore requires periodic maintenance. However, other metal railings like aluminum offer a similar look and may not require as much care.

Easy-to-install Metal Porch Railings

These metal porch (or deck) railings come in 6 foot lengths making them easy to install. They are maintenance free and can be used with existing columns and posts.
Aluminum Residential Railing - (Amazon affiliate link from which we may receive a commission)

Another option is to purchase custom made railings.

Please Note: Match Your Home's 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:

Look at This Before

standard square porch balusters

Now Look at These Afters

Chippendale designed Porch balusters

2x2 Chippendale pattern Porch balusters
Custom made Chippendale railings
photo courtesy of MrFixUmm

Very Important to Know: 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

Also Quite Important: Baluster Spacing 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

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
This example shows classic turned balusters spaced closer together

porch balusters spaced further apart
Here you see classic turned balusters spaced at maximum 4" apart

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

Just Be Different: 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! Don't be afraid to mix and match railing designs. In the photo above you see both horizontal and vertical railings combined to make a most charming porch.

Always Remember 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.

Select the Best Materials Your Budget Can Afford

  • 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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What About Gate Designs for Your Porch?

Video: How About Making a Rolling Porch Gate from a Section of Railing

Wow, a 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. Watch the video above for an example that our son's family did.

Just add hinges to it and rolling casters at the bottom. Then close with a latch.

A colorful rolling gate
Another example of a rolling gate

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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Did You Get Some Great Porch Railing Ideas?

Porch railings can give your porch delightful personality

the homeowner added a middle handrail

The homeowner added a middle handrail for ease of climbing the stairs. We think aesthetically it looks wonderful.

porch railings add loads of curb appeal to your porch

Don't overlook the importance of your porch railings (and porch columns, for that matter). They each provide not only structural functionality but also lend much to your home's curb appeal.

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