How to Install a Porch Railing

Transform your porch by installing a complementary railing in just seven simple steps.

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Install the Posts (Balusters)

Architects use the term balusters to describe the vertical support posts in a railing. The individual balusters are the first element to be installed. They must be firmly secured to the supporting structure below the floorboards — not to the floorboards themselves. For a porch with a concrete foundation, this requires drilling a post-hole into the concrete before securing the post.

For synthetic railings, a PVC or composite shell typically covers a pressure-treated wooden post that provides the actual support. The balusters are the key to a stable porch railing, so make sure they are properly aligned and secured.

Note: If your porch has pre-existing columns, you may be able to use these as balusters instead of installing posts. In that case, go directly to step five.

Measure the Distance Between Balusters

Carefully measure the distance between each pair of posts or columns. This is known as "field verifying" your dimensions. It allows you to make precise cuts to the horizontal segments of your railing, called balustrades, so they will fit perfectly between the balusters.

Install the Balustrades

Secure the balustrades to the posts or columns with screws or brackets, as is called for by the type of material you are using. Do not install the balustrades parallel to the ground, but at a slight angle. This is known as a positive slope and allows water to drain off the upward facing surfaces of your railing.

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