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7 Considerations For Porch Railings

There's something special about porches. Whether you're relaxing in a rocking chair with a good book, and a cup of coffee, or hosting a barbecue in the summer, these are places that bridge the gap between your home, and your yard. You get all the benefits of the sun, the fresh air, and a breeze, but you're still standing on the solid ground of your home.

Unfortunately, porches are also dangerous places for the unwary. Whether it's a misstep while carrying a plate, or misjudging where the step is, these places are elevated platforms. Some are higher, some are lower, but each of them represents a potential fall. Which is why it's important to make sure you have railing in place to prevent serious injury.

When it comes to porch railing, though, they are not a one-size-fits-all affair. You need to pick the railings that fit you, your lifestyle and your needs. Especially if you want to get the most from your outdoor space.

7 Considerations For Porch Railing

#1: Height

Perhaps the most basic question you need to ask when it comes to your railings is how high are they? On the one hand, you want them to provide some kind of safety. On the other hand, you might not want your porch to be fenced in. Typically a railing is going to be about waist height, but it's important to ask yourself how high is too high, and how low would be too low.

#2: Color and Contrast

The first urge most homeowners have concerning their porch railing is to make them look the same as the porch. The same material, the same color, the same everything. But while that is an option, it's also a good idea to ask if it's the option you want to pursue.

For example, if you have a wooden porch that's stained, do you also want a stained railing? Or would you rather contrast the railing with the porch by giving it a lighter sealant coat, creating a unique image? If the porch is painted, would a bare wood railing be attractive? Or if the porch is wooden, would you like an iron railing? These are all options you have to make your porch more attractive, as well as safer and sturdier.

#3: Spacing

Railings need to be supported, but the vertical supports pose a question for owners. How far apart should they be? On the one hand, wide supports can be aesthetically pleasing. They create a feeling of open space, lending an airiness to a porch. On the other hand, supports that are too far apart may pose a safety risk. Pets, children, and even adult guests who aren't careful may find themselves sliding through the gap, and into a drop. While that might not be a big risk for a porch that's a step or two off the ground, it is something to consider.

#4: Maintenance and Upkeep

Just like the porch, the railing is going to require upkeep. This means you need to look not just as the initial installation and protective measures, but at how often you're going to have to repeat them in the future. The porch might be wooden, but an aluminum railing will not have the same sanding and re-painting requirements the wood will. Alternatively, if the railings have a much shorter lifespan than the porch, it's important to know that up-front so a homeowner can prepare for the future costs, and figure in replacement plans down the road.

#5: Strength

When you install a railing it's important to ask how structurally sound it needs to be. For example, is it there to make sure that someone who stumbles doesn't fall into open space? Or does this railing need to support the weight of half a dozen people lounging against it as they sip drinks and watch the sunset?

Every railing should be structurally sound, but you need to ask if it's supposed to be load-bearing as well.

#6: Will It Require Outside Assistance?

If you need to have a porch built, one of the first things you ask is if you need someone else to do it, or if you're going to do it yourself. The same is true of your railings. Some systems are simple, and are meant to be installed by those with minimal assistance, and minimal help. Others, though, will take time, a few friends, and the right tools. Or, if you don't have those, a team of professionals to come and install for you.

#7: Privacy

A railing, like a fence, can be open. It can also be closed off, screening the prying eyes of the outside world. It's important for a homeowner to ask what purpose their porch is going to be used for, and whether that's the kind of activity that requires privacy. A railing around a coffee table might not be necessary, but if someone has a hot tub on their porch, then a little privacy might be desirable.

These are just a few of the bigger concerns homeowners have to ask when it comes to porch railings. If you have questions, or you're not sure which options are best for your particular needs, then all you have to do is contact us today. We're here to help you get the answers you need.