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 railing design choices.
Choose to create a balustrade to reflect the architectural style of your home while incorporating your own desires.
Updating or even replacing porch railings is an easy way to change the look of your home. Fortunately, some options are maintenance free.
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 or The Porch Company.
Often times; however, you may need to 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.
Custom vinyl lattice is an affordable and decorative way to create a unique railing system.
Aluminum porch railing is maintenance free and can be attached to wood or metal. Easy to install
Railings code guide
To learn basic code requirements before you build or plan for your porch railings.
Railing spacing and calculations guide
Use to install or build railings. We've got just the information you need to make the job easier!
Wood deck railings
Wood balusters offer design options you may not have previously considered.
Turned porch balusters
Turned balusters come in a wide array of designs and very popular
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.
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
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 railing ideas
Discover the world of custom vinyl porch railings....
Knee walls provide privacy and protect you from the elements. Don't rule them out as an option for your porch
Wrought iron railings
Wrought iron railings offer unparalleled elegance and durability
Railings materials guide
To find just the right material - you'll be pleasantly surprised at your options.
Mountain Laurel porch railings
See these amazing railings made from beautiful mountain laurels
Porch hand rails
See your options for porch hand rails and materials - great photo examples too. See DIY Railing Systems.
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
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.
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!
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another option is to purchase custom made railings; use our handy Find a Local Contractor form to locate a supplier in your area.
But don't always hold to convention. The above porch an excellent example of a Victorian design with unassuming square balusters. How beautiful is that!
These above three photos are courtesy of MrFixUmm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another neat trick is to mix and match balusters to create unique affects like those shown below:
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.
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.
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.
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.