Fixing a Porch Handrail

Bring a tired old porch up to snuff - and up to code - with some rebuilt handrails.

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The porch is the cornerstone of this great old home, but it had fallen into disrepair and the handrail wasn’t up to code specs. Our team of home-improvement pros removed the old handrail, set up a jig to cut the new stiles and installed a new handrail.

If your porch is facing the same problem, here’s how to fix it:

Materials and Tools:

caulk
wood glue
air compressor
nail gun
For each 12-foot section of rail:

    • ten 8-foot lengths of 2-by-2-inch pine (for 30 spindles)

    • 12-foot top rail

    • 12-foot bottom rail

Steps:

1. Creating the jig. Draw your pattern full scale on a sheet of plywood, and then cut spacer blocks and tack them into place along your pattern. In this way you simply need to lay in your spindles and nail your top and bottom rails in place, with no need for repetitive measuring.

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2. Removing the old rails. Carefully remove the old rails, making sure not to damage the columns in the process. We used a reciprocating saw to cut through the old rails for easier removal.

3. Cut the top and bottom rails to fit. Measure the top and bottom rails separately, since the columns may be tapered; the bottom measurement may be slightly shorter than the top. Cut the ends of the rails to fit the curve of the column.

4. Set up the jig. Measure the center of each rail and run spindles each way from center. This way, the spacing against the columns will be consistent.

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5. Nail and glue. Nail the spindles through the bottom and top rails, gluing at each joint.

6. Installing the handrails. Install the handrails by tacking them into place and then pre-drilling and screwing from underneath to hide the screws.

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