Are you looking to add some curb appeal to your home? Does your wraparound porch or stoop need a little something extra? If so, then you should consider adding porch railings to your home. Functional, affordable, and charming, porch railings are available in a variety of styles and finishes perfect for your outdoor décor. Here is a brief guide to porch railings, as well as a few things to consider before making your purchase.

Porch Railing Materials

Traditional homes are well suited to vinyl, iron, and wood porch railings. Each of these materials has distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider, however. Vinyl railings are more expensive up front, but they are extremely easy to maintain and not prone to rotting or warping. Iron rails are ideal for adding an elegant look to your home, and they are also quite durable. Wood is the most economical choice, although it is also the most easily damaged by weather or insects. Other choices for porch railings, such as glass walls or even cables, are ideal options for modern homes.

Porch Railing Anatomy

When it comes to railing, it is helpful to understand that terminology involved to best communicate your vision while making purchases. Balusters, also known as pickets, are the portion of the railing that runs from top to bottom. A balustrade is an entire section of railing, including the balusters, top rails, and bottom rails, if used. The bottom rail runs parallel to the top rail and may be included for aesthetic reasons as well as for easy cleaning. Columns are the design elements found on the edge of porches which are used to support the roof. Handrails or top rails are the uppermost portion of the porch railing, running parallel to the porch and/or bottom rail. Posts are the supporting elements of the porch rail, running from the top rail all the way to the porch itself. Posts are often accentuated by decorative top caps.

Porch Railing Codes

Before adding a porch railing, you must take into account building codes for safety. In general, rails must be at least 36 inches in height, and balusters may not be farther than four inches apart. Railings should also be sturdy enough to withstand at least 200 pounds of force against them in any direction. While horizontal railings are a possibility, you are encouraged to avoid this type of design because it encourages climbing which may result in injuries.

Porch railings are a fantastic way to update an older home or add a nice design element to a new build. Style range from modern to Victorian to traditional and everything in between, making the designs truly endless. If you are having trouble deciding on a material, consider using a mixture of two such as wooden top and bottom rails with metal balusters connecting the wooden pieces. Other creative options include glass panels in lieu of balusters for an unobstructed view. Porch railings can almost be considered jewelry for your home’s exterior, making them a fantastic investment worthy of both your time and money.

I’m Geoff Leary, a freelance writer in Upstate New York. I once wanted to build rocket ships, but writing takes me farther. I aim to take action & make inspiration while writing about a range of topics, just to keep things interesting. Find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LearyGeoff