My wife has been asking me to put a railing up on the back porch for a few years. However our kids were old enough and we didn’t spend much time there, so I hadn’t worried about it. Actually, I was hoping to build a deck there sometime and the railing seemed like a temporary project. However we got a new puppy, and he’s not too bright. He fell off once, and as you can see, it’s a good drop, so I decided to work on this:
That’s two stories, straight down. I have some cleanup to do down there as well.
Here’s what I started with, an 87” space. A few years ago my wife tried to motivate my by buying a pre-built rail, but it was 6’ long and wouldn’t work. I thought adding a post somewhere in here would look dumb as well, so I needed a new plan.
I measured things and went to the hardware store. I came back with a pre-drilled rail, a top rail, and a bunch of balusters. I also had a couple 1x2” pieces for trim. I based my design on some pre-built (6ft) railings I saw at the store.
I added some 2" screws and some 1 1/4" screws, both exterior, thinking that I'd need them. As it turned out, I only used 8 1 1/4" screws to attach the L-brackets and only one piece of trim.
At first I couldn’t decide how best to do this. Should I build it in the front yard and then move it and attach it? I decided that was a bad idea and went with top down. I’d put the rail up, then add balusters and finally trim.
My first step was to measure some spaces, left to right to get the distance on the outer post and also the height of the balusters. I used a couple L-brackets to get the railing up there.
These were easy to attach, and I screwed them into the post and the house. They seemed as though they would be plenty stable, and it’s not like this railing gets a lot of use or it really would be leaned on. This is a side of the porch that basically as an old grill and a bunch of chairs stacked up.
This post is against one side of the cement foundation, so I used that as my offset. I measured the post, got the middle, placed that bracket up there (as shown to the right) and screwed it in. I then measured how far it was from the end.
I took that measurement to the other side, measured away from the foundation wall, and then up and screwed in the matchine L-bracket. It might be slightly off, but not enough for my wife of anyone to really notice.
Once this was done, I screwed in the rail bracket and as you can see, it looked good.
And it was level. I actually checked this before I screwed in the second bracket.
Next I attached balusters. I had to use 2” screwed to get through the railing, but as you can see, I’d put a few in, then add a baluster and screw it down.
As I screwed them in, it looked good. I got almost done that afternoon. I couldn’t finish because my wife had one set of balusters in her truck and I had to wait until early evening to get them back.
Once she got back, I screwed in the rest of the balusters. I took my other two L-brackets and attached them to the trim board at the bottom, and then attached that to the house. That was tricky with the balusters in there and I had to remove a few of them. Lesson learned: get the supports up first.
I also got out my trim nail gun and added nails to the front trim piece that you see here. Once that was secure, I added the top railing and nailed that down to the rail that holds the baluster.
That was last week. This week I started painting with primer. My daughter helped and we got one coat down. Now I need to get the matching paint for the house and add that on top.
As you can see, there's a little more work to do.