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My front porch has an existing railing that was clearly put up in a hurry. Since the wood was not properly treated, the top and bottom railing pieces are warping and the balusters are starting to fall out. I tried screwing them back in, but the gap is too large, so they are starting to fall out again.

I would like to start over and replace the railing/balusters.

The big issue is that it's an older house (1950s) so the poles are not a standard distance apart (6 feet). They are "about" 9 feet apart (9 ft. 1/8 inch and 9 foot 1 inch). When I went to Home Depot, they sent me away saying that they can't help me since they aren't 6 feet.

Anyway, I checked with the town and I don't have to worry about building code since I am not replacing the poles (IE, I don't have to add new poles like I would if it were new construction).

I have a budget ready for this project. Obviously, saving money means I can spend it on other home improvement projects, but I can spend as much as $1,000. I am willing to build everything myself, but if I can use something pre built that is fine too. Time is not too much of an issue, although I would like to get it done pretty soon.

I am thinking wood would look much nicer. The vinyl railings look so very cheap. Can I do some kind of metal railing?

Anyway, please help me find the next direction, I know what I want, but how to get there is a little sketchy. If I need to spend some of the budget on tools, great! I love tools. I have an huge assortment of hand tools and a power drill. My father-in-law is fine with me using his circular saw for cutting wood as well.

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1 Answer 1

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If you cannot find wooden porch rail parts long enough in your local home center, you can use stair rail parts. The handrail comes in lengths up to 16 feet, in oak or hemlock.

handrail

You would also need shoerail.

shoerail

The center section of each comes out to leave a channel to hold the balusters. baluster

All of these are unfinished, but you may be able to find primed versions.

Assuming you are lifting the shoerail above the porch floor (the most common style), you need to support the shoe rail in several places along the 9 foot run. The balusters will then support the middle of the rail.

You might also consider putting a newel post in the middle of the rail run to break it up and increase the lateral stability (toward and away from the house).

newel

Fancier ones are also available.

All of these parts are unfinished and not pressure treated. They do need careful priming and painting (including the cut ends) preferably prior to assembly. They also need regular maintenance, but would give a great look.

You may be able to find similar materials in pressure treated lumber or cedar, both of which are more rot and weather resistant with more limited maintenance (but they do need some). However the longer runs may be harder to find.

If you are putting in a middle newel post, you also could use some of the prefab rail sections, either wood or metal since each section would be slightly less than 4.5 feet.

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I went to lowes and they had some pre beveled "kits." I had them cut to length for the half size with a 4x4 pole in the middle. It's going to work out well. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I didn't do exactly what you suggested, but it helped me find a solution. –  Jeff Davis Aug 21 '12 at 16:01
    
@Jeff Davis - That's great. Most of the answers here are only one solution, and there are many good ones and even more correct ones. The trick is finding the one that fits your needs. Glad it was of some help. –  bib Aug 21 '12 at 18:35

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