How to Select Railing for your Porch

The right railing ensures safety and infuses your space with style and personality

symmetry-railing-tranquil-white
Porch railing can be safe and stylish. Shown here: Fiberon Symmetry Railing in Tranquil White with matching composite balusters.

If you are resurfacing your porch, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time thinking about the boards. What’s equally important but sometimes an afterthought is the railing. Porch railing is an essential element for keeping family and friends safe. In most locations, it is also required by code -- another reason why you should always consult local building officials prior to beginning any construction project.

Chances are you already knew that. But did you also know that railing is one of the best ways to infuse your space with style and personality? After all, people may walk on the boards, but what they notice first is your railing. Fortunately, composite railing manufacturers like Fiberon offer a range of railing profiles, colors, and infill options, so creating a standout look is a breeze.

What goes into a porch railing system?

When we talk about railing, we are usually referring to something better described as a railing system. Here are the components of a Fiberon composite railing system:

railing-diagram

  • Rail posts (usually a 4 in. x 4 in. wood insert) anchor the railing system to the porch surface. A post sleeve slides over the post and is attached to the boards via a mounting bracket. Post caps and base mouldings (sometimes called “skirts”) finish the look.
  • Top and bottom rails provide a sturdy framework to contain the infill and complete the composite railing system. Rail profiles are available in many styles. One popular option is the flat top rail, which offers a clean, contemporary look and creates a handy place to rest a drink. For classic charm, consider a more traditional sculpted top railing profile.
  • Brackets attach the top and bottom rails to the posts. Look for stainless steel brackets that won’t rust or corrode. Some railing lines offer hidden brackets for a cleaner look: no visible hardware anywhere. Others use color-coordinated brackets to blend with their outdoor railing.
  • Crush blocks resemble miniature sections of rail posts. Depending on the railing system, the crush blocks may or may not be adjustable. Either way, they sit between the bottom rail and the deck boards to provide added support and prevent possible sagging over time.
  • Infill “fills” the space between top and bottom rail. The category can include anything from traditional square balusters to cable rail, metal balusters, and more. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting railing infill:
    • Certain types of infill require un-routed rails. If you are interested in cable rail, for example, be sure the railing you are considering is available in an un-routed style. If you want composite or metal balusters, typical routed line sections are fine.
    • Baluster spacing is another important consideration. Per code, the distance between balusters cannot be greater than four inches. Fiberon Symmetry® Railing comes with pre-drilled rails to ensure the balusters are spaced according to code. Other railing lines may not. What’s more, alternate infills such as cable rail will have different spacing requirements. Consult local building officials to ensure your infill is installed correctly and up to code.
    • Your choice of infill will impact the view from the porch. In most environments, black metal balusters will blend with the surroundings. If you are outfitting a porch in a waterfront setting, consider classic white all the way around. It adds a fresh, nautical touch that is always in style.
    • Although not an infill, an ADA-compliant handrail system is a smart idea for increasing safety and mobility, not to mention ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act. This may be required if you own a commercial property; check with local authorities. If you are considering Fiberon Symmetry or Fiberon Horizon Railing, you’ll be pleased to learn that both options work with ADA handrail systems. Available handrail colors will complement all Symmetry and Horizon Railing selections.

ada-fiberon-symmetry-handrail
ADA-compliant handrail systems improve mobility and enhance safety. Offered by Fiberon via special order. (Shown here with Fiberon Symmetry Railing in Tranquil White)

How to select the best porch railing colors

There are many ways to tackle the color question. Often, people will match the trim on their house or choose porch railing that complements their home’s architecture or color. Modern architecture, for example, lends itself to darker railing colors while a farmhouse colonial or classic Cape Code style is perfectly suited for white railing. Brick or stucco-sided homes work with either light or dark shades. Owners of coastal properties seem to overwhelmingly favor white railing and gray decking.

Once you’ve chosen a color for your railing, add matching balusters for a seamless look or select infill in a contrasting color to create a more custom surround. Black metal balusters continue to gain popularity. Black adds a contemporary touch to even the most traditional home styles, and the round balusters are remarkably good at “disappearing” from view so the surroundings can take center stage.

symmetry-rail-black-baluster
Porch railing adds charm and increases safety in this lakeside setting. Shown: Fiberon Symmetry Railing in Tranquil White with black metal balusters.

Another way to customize: swap out the top rail for a contrasting color (depending on how the railing is sold, this could cost extra) or use a deck board to create a wide, flat top surface that matches or coordinates with the decking underfoot.

symmetry-decking-graphite
Easy customization: A contrasting top rail in Serene Black is added to Symmetry Railing in Tranquil White to create a one-of-a-kind railing design that complements Symmetry Decking in Graphite.

horizon-decking-tudor-brown
Insider tip: Use a deck board over the top rail to create an extra-wide surface, perfect for resting drinks and plates during deck parties. Shown: Horizon Decking in Tudor Brown over Horizon Railing in White with black metal balusters.

There are many factors to consider when selecting porch railing; however, if you take it step by step, the process shouldn’t overwhelm you. Of course, if the thought of sanding, re-painting, or re-staining your porch railing is overwhelming and unappealing (and why wouldn’t it be?), check out a high-quality composite railing brand such as Fiberon. Fiberon offers two distinct railing lines with enough color and infill options to help you craft the perfect railing solution. Plus, our available online design tools and product samples let you try before you buy to ensure you’ll love the final look.

And speaking of buying, you can purchase Fiberon railing directly from our website. Purchasing online is quick, simple, and convenient. And products ship directly to your home. We also offer an in-store option if picking up your products at a local Fiberon dealer works best with your schedule.

Ready to begin?


This post was originally published on November 12, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy.

Comments
Close