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; 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.
Beautiful turned balusters on a Cape May NJ front porch
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
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.
Porch hand rails See all of your options for porch hand rails and materials - great photo examples too.
Video: Our Overview of Porch Railings
Part two of our Front Porch Designs videos
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!
Photo courtesy of Vintage Woodworks
Lovely porch railings and trim like the above is from Vintage Woodworks.
Classic, timeless and charming!
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.
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
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.
Traditional size of turned balusters
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.
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 balusters spaced closer together
Classic turned balusters spaced at maximum 4" apart
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:
Be different! Mix and match
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.
Video: Make a Porch Gate from a Section of Railing
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 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.
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 and the gate looks terrific.