Designing Professional Porch Railings

Deck and Porch Railing Design Considerations that Provide Safety and Beauty

By Mark J. Donovan

Porch railings are often an afterthought when building a porch. Good porch design, however doesn’t neglect this significant part of the porch, or deck. A well thought out porch railing design not only provides safety but also adds character to the overall deck or porch design. In addition, new porch railing products sold today include some rather unique features to help maximize the use of the porch or deck.

For example, off-the-shelf deck railings can be purchased today with built in channels for running electrical wire through them, making it easy to install deck or porch lighting.

Designing professional porch railings starts with determining the type of look you want to achieve on your porch or deck. For example, are you looking to achieve a country look or a modern sleek look? Ultimately you should develop a porch look that is consistent with the home’s existing architecture or that will complement it. Key elements to have to decide upon when designing your porch railings are the type of posts, balusters, and top and bottom rails you want to use.

Many home improvement centers sell basic pressure treated wood, and vinyl deck and porch railing systems, including the posts, balusters and rails. However, if you want to design a more elegant or unique porch railing system you may need to look online at some of the deck and porch specialty shops. They have more options to choose from and can offer assistance in developing a profession porch railing system.

Another key element in the design of your porch railing is simply determining how much railing system you need.

 Designing Professional Porch Railings

You can quickly determine this by measuring the linear exterior length of your porch or deck. Before visiting your local home improvement center or contacting a porch and deck specialty store have this information ready.

For more sophisticated porch designs you may also want to integrate into the porch railing system various decorative details. Whether planning to use wood, wrought iron, or even vinyl railings, there are many porch railing systems on the market today that include neat accent and decorative pieces to incorporate into your porch railing design.

Fastening hardware is another key element in every porch railing design. Good quality fastening hardware not only ensures a strong railing system, but can also help provide visual finishing touches or accent pieces to the rail system itself.

The most important consideration, however, when selecting fastening hardware is to make sure it is non-corrosive. Stainless steel is your best option when choosing fastening hardware for your porch design.

Finally, consider how you plan to finish and protect your porch railing system from the elements. Porches and decks take a lot of beating from both ultraviolet sunlight and moisture.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

If using a vinyl porch railing system, then the protection is already built in, not to mention they require little maintenance. If using a wood porch railing system, look for using semi-transparent stains that can provide some color as well as protection from the elements. If using a wrought iron porch railing system make sure to prime and paint it. Also keep in mind with wrought iron that it will rust over time if not properly cared for. Every couple of years, expect to have to scrape it down with a stiff steel bristled brush and sandpaper, and then reapply primer and paint.

So when designing your porch or deck, make sure to give adequate attention to the porch railing system. The railing system should provide both safety and beauty to your porch or deck.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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