Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Back Railing

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.
railing_gMy 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.