DIY Porch Railing Replacement Project
I’m sharing our DIY porch railing replacement project we completed with you, and show you the step by step process we used.
If your front porch rails need replacing, whether because of age, rot, or just to change the look or style, it can get expensive. Replacing them yourself can save a ton of money. We’re going to show you how you can easily accomplish this project yourself!
Here are some before pictures of the railings that needed replacing –
As you can see from the pictures, these rails were in desperate need of replacing. They were falling apart and suffering from severe rot in several places. It was a perfect opportunity for a DIY porch railing project.
Fortunately, the posts were all still in pretty good shape, which saved a lot of time, work and money.
To start this project, the first thing we did was to see what kind of wood we would need. These particular rails are called Richmond Rails, and they’re made out of fir.
Then we measured the rail lengths, and counted the number of balusters, so we would know how much material we would need for this job.
These rails had been around for awhile, so were not up to code. We had to adjust the number of balusters we needed due to their spacing.
Note: Each area’s building codes may be different, be sure to check your local building codes.
A good rule of thumb is that a 4″ sphere should not pass between your balusters.
Here is a list of tools and materials we used to complete this job –
- The most important tool for this job was the Miter Saw. This really saved a lot of time and measuring.
- Tape Measure
- Trim Gun
- Speed Square
- Electric Palm Sander
- Cordless Drill
- Richmond Rails – Top & bottom rails, balusters
- 3 inch exterior finish screws
- 16 guage 1 & 1/2 inch angled finish nails
- Titebond II wood glue
- 120 grit sandpaper discs
- Carpenter’s pencil
Once you have all of your tools and materials together, you are ready to begin your project.
The first step is to remove the old rails. Sand down any areas that need it, including old caulk or rough patches left by the rail removal process.
Next, you want to measure out your wood. If the old rails are in good enough shape, you can use those as a guide. If not, you can lay the new pieces in place in between the posts, and mark them with your pencil.
Once everything has been measured, cut your pieces to size using your miter saw.
You’ll want to start with your bottom edges first, one section at a time. Set it into place to ensure it fits properly. Once you’re sure it has a nice snug fit, you want to add your wood glue to the side edges before screwing it in place.
Once you have the wood glue on each end, set your bottom rail into place. Using your drill and your exterior finish screws, you want to screw in both sides of each end of your bottom rail into the posts. We pre-drilled from the bottom and drove the screws in on an angle so that none would be seen from the top.
Once your bottom rail is securely in place, you will want to install a baluster on each end, attaching them to the post. Again, use the wood glue on the bottom and side of the baluster that will connect to the post. Use your finish screws to secure them to the post.
Once your two end balusters are set in place, you can then place the top rail onto each end. Don’t forget to add your wood glue to the top of the balusters before attaching your top rail!
Screw each top rail in place to each post using your finish screws. The balusters are thin, so pre-drilling will lessen the chance of splitting them.
It should now look like this:
The next step is adding your balusters. You want to start from the center of your bottom rail. Measure the length of the bottom rail, and divide the measurement in half. That is where you’ll want to place your first baluster.
You can then mark where your remaining balusters will go from there. Your measurements will depend on how far apart your balusters will be spaced.
We chose to use a scrap piece of wood block as our measuring guide. This made for quick and easy measuring, and also ensured accuracy in the space between each baluster for this DIY porch railing project.
If you look closely, you’ll see in this picture the lines we marked in pencil where the balusters will go.
Once everything has been marked, you can set your balusters in place. Start with your middle point, and work your way out to each end. Be sure to have your wood glue handy. You’ll want to dab glue on each end of your baluster, and once it’s in place, break out your trim gun and those finish nails!
Hold your trim gun angled downward on the side of the baluster at the lowest point closest to your bottom rail. Drive one finish nail into each side on the bottom, then repeat this process at the top.
Continue the gluing and nailing process with each baluster until they’re all in place. Recheck your measurements, just to be sure.
Be sure to check to make sure everything lines up properly, it’s easier to fix it as you go along!
Continue this process with each section, from start to finish. Once you have all your rails and balusters in place, step back and admire your work!
Be sure to watch out for on the job hazards as well. Fortunately this guy didn’t cause too much trouble.
Ok, back to the railings. We wanted these rails to last, so as an added step (optional, it’s your personal preference), we filled any holes or gaps with waterproof outdoor caulk.
This is an added step to help keep moisture from settling in, and it also gives everything a clean, seamless look.
The final result is beautiful, it looks so much better than the old railings. Adding the extra balusters made a huge difference in it’s appearance as well!
Finished result –
All that’s left is to clean it up with a little pressure washing, and then prime and paint. It’s amazing what a difference a little upgrading can do with the look of your home!
Let’s take a look at the before and after, side by side:
We hope you enjoyed our DIY porch railing project! With these step by step directions, we’re also hoping we’ve helped to make it easier for you to be able to your own DIY porch railing!
If you’re into DIY home projects, check out our small laundry room ideas!
See you in the next post!