Porch railing styles

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Porches hold a special place for me and I have to admit I wish I had more time to spend just sitting on my own! One aspect of porches that I always like to see are the railings. This is the part that is the dressing on the body of the structure.

On a traditional porch such as this the short rail with square ballasters is right at home. It blends in perfectly with the shingled exterior and the natural wood details.
Turned ballasters are always appropriate on an older home and they add a touch of class and tradition to the rail and for so many situations are preferable to a 2×2 square ballaster rail. The term “turned” comes from the way they are turned on a lathe as they start out as square 2×2 lengths of wood and the various parts are turned away.

Turned ballasters

There are also railings that have different features and designs such as below. In the Bahamas, we have a number of homes with railings similar in style to these and I believe it has to do with custom more than anything else. This style is a variation of the diagonal cross.

Railing with various details

There are also iron rails and to be honest, they really aren’t my taste but as in most things it’s a matter of what you like and what the style of the area is. In the appropriate setting they are fine but I find them to be a bit cold and too industrial for the comforts of a nice porch.

Iron railings

No matter what style railing you choose it must work with the style of the porch and the environment that it is in. The photo below shows a tensioned stainless steel horizontal wire railing. In this setting blocking the wonderful view would be terrible but there still needs to be a way to ensure the safety of the people on the porch. Also by using stainless steel the likely hood  is that the corrosive salt all around will be kept at bay- no pun intended.

Another very important consideration is your building code. Not all areas have stringent building codes for railings and others do so it’s necessary to know what applies in your area before deciding on a railing system.
With spring and summer on the way, (I know, not soon enough) but you can start to think of those lazy days of sipping a drink and enjoying an afternoon on the porch and admiring your porch and railings.
Photos from www.houzz.com, www.contractortalk.com, www.front-porch-ideas-and-more.com, www.wisconsonironworks.com
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About Todd Vendituoli

Todd Vendituoli has been a builder for almost 30 years with companies in Vermont and the Bahamas and HomeCentrl is an extension of those years of building experience highlighting everything about your home. I am presently working within the field of social media and using my years of construction and design knowledge to help others understand and use social media to enhance their businesses in a multitude of different ways. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a variety of other social networks.
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7 Responses to Porch railing styles

  1. Great post Todd. It is the time of year to start thinking about these warm weather projects. A year ago I was just finishing the design details on mine so they could be fabricated and ready for late spring installation.

  2. So what did you decide to go with? Love to see the photos or your mock ups.

  3. A porch is a great place to spend time with family and friends. I, like you, wish I had more time to spend on mine! My ballasters can be square or turned as long as they are wood. My husband wants to replace ours with PVC and I won’t let him! (Of course, I’m not the one painting them)

    • I would tend to agree with you Amanda and go with wood even though the painting is more work. For the first painting they can be done before installation and if using good wood and paint should last for years without needing to be re- painted.

  4. Mike says:

    I guess I’m biased but my favourite style is the iron rail as opposed to the traditional wooden balusters. The home and porch style however is a large consideration when selecting what type to install as the type of accents used must complement the overall look of the home. Whichever style you have, it’s just great to enjoy the outdoors. Summer’s on it’s way and I can’t wait to start hanging out more on the balcony enjoying a cold brew.

  5. John Smith says:

    Agreed. Having grown up in Michigan and now living in Florida, I miss our decks and porches. I had the opportunity to build a two story deck at our last home in Michigan. It was our favorite extension to our home. Lots of iron rails down here, but still not the same as the traditional wood.

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