Your Porch Fence is Your Property’s Welcome Sign

5 Questions to Answer Before Installing Porch Railing

When you are looking for ways to improve the look of your home, then you should consider porch railings. They are a great way of adding interest to either of the two spaces; even more importantly, they act as a significant safety feature. Whether you have small children, pets, or older family members, railings ensure your loved ones remain safe while enjoying the outdoors.

Of course, every home improvement project is only as successful as its preparation. Here are 5 questions you should ask before installing porch railings.

1) Will the Railings Fit all Porches?

When you are thinking about installing railings, start by considering the size of your porch. Measure the perimeter of your porch in order to determine how much material you will need. Don't let the size deter you from getting railings, but understanding the size does help you estimate the scope of the project.

Once you've measured how much you need, you can begin to think about the style of railing that matches your taste and would coordinate nicely with your home. Most railings come standard as 6 feet wide, but you can also find smaller widths in order to help correctly accommodate the size of your porch.

2) How Will Railings Benefit My Family?

Railings are a wise investment for any home. But their benefits are maximized if you have pets, small children, or older individuals living in your home. Especially for the latter, they provide an easy way to safely move around on the porch thanks to the ability of holding onto the railing for additional support.

For small children and pets, railings provide a safety barrier to keep them on the porch without falling off. Especially if you have a raised porch, this is of paramount importance to keep your family safe and avoid anyone from endangering themselves. And if you have a staircase leading down from your porch, railings become especially beneficial in snowy or icy whether as a point of stability to hold onto while trying to maneuver down the stairs.  

3) What are My Choices For Railings?

Aluminum railings tend to be your best choice. They are available in both white and black, which means that they will match perfectly with any style and color of the home and its hardscaping. Additionally, aluminum is beneficial because of its durability. As a result, your railings will easily withstand heat, cold, rain, snow, and ice, and still look great afterwards.

Of course, in addition to color and material, you can also choose a style that matches your taste. Generally speaking, you can pick from a different styles of railing that ranges wildly. Our different choices are Fairfield, Summit, and Midway and Fairfield Plus, which all come in standard heights at either 36 inches or 42 inches.

4) What Will Railings do to My Home's Curb Appeal?

Railings are not only a great way to improve the safety of your porch, but also its look. If you have a porch with no railings, simply adding them can improve the look of your home by adding a sense of polish and finishing. As a result, railings tend to be a wise investment, because they increase your home's curb appeal. Especially if you decide to add some decorative details with your railings, you can take your porch from drab to fabulous.

For example, if you really want to add a lot of character to your home, then you should consider the Fairfield Plus. This style emphasizes detail work, adding more character to your home than most of its alternative. However, if you feel that it's too ornate, you will find other choices that can fit your taste more closely.

Finally, you can add additions to your railing to get as much detail or as little detail as you desire. You have a limited amount of customization ability, which means that your railing won't have to look like it came from a big box store but be a little more unique to you.

Railings on porches will enhance the overall look of your home. They will give your home a more polished look, and if you ever think about selling your home, your new railings will be an asset to potential homebuyers.

5) Can I Do This Myself?

Of course you can. Perhaps the best feature of the railings discussed above is that they are prefabricated. That means you don't have to assemble all the parts, and simply focus on the installation itself. Additionally, a variety of helpful guides can give you the direction you need for your installation.

But before you start, be sure to do some homework. For example, if you are a member of a homeowner's association, check with them first to make sure that your potential railing meets their requirements. The last thing you want to do is install a railing and find out that they don't approve of the color or the height.

Also, adding a railing may need an inspection in order to ensure compliance with zoning and building codes. These codes vary from area to area, so be sure to do your homework first before ordering materials and beginning your installation.

Railings are a great way to add interest to your porch, while also adding much-needed safety and security. Installing them is not a daunting task, and with a little research, patience, and some elbow grease, you'll be so glad that you improved your home in this area. To find the right railings for you, please contact us.

If your home has a porch feature, why not dress it up with a charming porch fence? Turn that drab slab into a charming veranda. This is a classic look that will update your home and increase its value. Never before have there been more options in style and materials, assuring that your new porch fencing will blend in perfectly with your home's architectural design.

Classic White:

The most popular choice is classic white railings. This hearkens back to the "good ol' days" of farmhouse charm. White railings stand out against red brick, one of the most common building materials of today's homes. Don't forget to paint the trim of windows and entry doors to match. In the dim shade of the porch, a fresh coat of white paint really makes these structural features pop. Complete the look with a few hanging baskets of lush ferns or colorful flowers. Update a porch like this for maximum curb appeal.

Small Spaces:

You may not think a small space needs a bit of fencing, but, actually, this is a prime fall risk area. A safety barrier is very important. Having a smaller area to navigate turns or to see in front of you with an armful of groceries raises the risk of nearing an edge and falling off. So, enclose small porches even if they are very low to the ground. It only takes turning an ankle off an elevation of a few inches to receive a terrible injury.

Define Extensions:

If you have a porch that extends beyond the eaves of the home's overhang, it may look odd. Onlookers see a roof with classic pillars paired with the eyesore of a concrete slab just sticking out there like an afterthought. Give that extra slab space purpose. Enclose it with a decorative barrier.

Uncovered Appeal:

If you have an entry that lacks any roof or eave extension to create a covered space over an entry porch, what message does that send? It simply lacks the warmth of a welcoming invitation. The home seems unfinished. Although you may not want to add an overhanging structure, you can still create more charisma for an uncovered porch by adding railings. This really dresses up the space, creating a more welcoming aspect to the aesthetics. Go from barren concrete block to cozy patio with a stylish bit of railing.

Wrought Iron:

Victorian homes and Gothic architecture all deserve the glamour of wrought iron. Whether you opt for a simple design or go heavily intricate, it is the perfect choice, even if your home is more contemporary. Consider how black wrought iron will compliment a home painted in shades of gray. If your home is constructed of very light-toned brick, the contrast is striking.

Mixed Elements:

For an updated version that blends classic wood and decorative wrought iron, why not mix elements? Create even more eye-appealing variety by painting posts to match the home's trim and stain the wood a lovely natural shade. The final product is gorgeous.

Criss-Cross Style:

Think that vertical railings are your only option in a porch fence? Check out the criss-cross design of these railings. This style is more versatile than one might think. Want to channel your inner farmer with something that evokes images of rustic barn doors? This is perfect. For the minimalist desiring a contemporary design that is an effective barrier with the least lines possible, what else but this?

Securely Tie It All Together:

Enclosing a home's porch with the same fencing feature that surrounds your home and lines your grand entry walk will tie every outdoor element together. This continuous line defines your property and guides visitors to the entry you prefer. No one wanders to the back door unexpectedly. Although outsiders will appreciate the beauty, the homeowner will appreciate the added element of security.

Completely Custom:

A porch fence is just one more way to customize your home. Whatever personality statement you are trying to make with selected colors for trim and siding, textures of building materials, this can all be integrated into the design of a porch fence. Customize your porch with an enclosure that fluidly blends in with the unique aspects of your home.

Don't Block The View:

If you have a particularly spectacular view, you can enjoy the safety of a secure barrier without interference with your line of sight. Select a cable railing system and enjoy feasting your eyes on the surrounding landscape. Or, for contemporary architecture, go with glass.

Step Security:

Even if you only have a few steps, those should be secured with a safety railing. It doesn't take much to lose your balance. Any fall on the hard surface of a porch or attached sidewalk can be devastating. Include steps in your porch fence design.

Grand Entry:

The final reason that should convince you to invest in a porch fence is: create a breathtaking grand entry. One final image speaks for itself:

Lifestyle Choices:

Once you have designed your dream porch fence, it's time to determine what materials can bring your dream to life. If you engage in particular lifestyle practices that make sourcing certain materials a priority, you can remain true to your principles in this project. The construction industry is responding to consumer demand for building materials that are ethically sourced. What if low-maintenance and longevity are your main concerns? You might choose a porch fence constructed of aluminum or vinyl. Antique buffs can opt for wrought iron replicas of historical patterns or even install a bit of history from materials salvaged from old structures. Whatever your fancy, there is a suitable material source to choose from.

Please contact us and let our team of home exterior experts assist you on your porch fencing project. Our award-winning professionals have the technical expertise to deliver superior satisfaction.

Maintaining Porches: A DIY Guide

2/14/2017  Porches

Let's be honest here; owning a wooden porch means an ongoing commitment to maintenance if you don't want it to become ruined within the space of just a few years. You're going to be fighting a continual battle to keep cracking, rot and marauding insects at bay.

The easier path is to have your porch made from a man-made material that requires almost no maintenance whatsoever -- aluminum, plastic, vinyl or a composite, for example. Wood is just what people know and gravitate to when it comes to porches, however; aside from a preference for the look and feel, the initial cost is also very attractive, usually coming at less than what a synthetic material will.

The good news is that maintenance doesn't have to be a major headache if it's done right and on time, whether you have a wood porch or one made entirely of synthetic materials. We've put together this brief guide to not only help you keep your porch looking great for as long as possible, but also to keep the costs of ongoing maintenance down by doing everything the best possible way the first time out.

1) Regular Checks

In addition to scheduled maintenance, there's a few informal visual checks you should make a habit of doing at least once or twice a month.

Look underneath the porch for pooling water, as well as patches of standing water on the surface -- these are the prime contributors to rot, cracking and discoloration. Also check the surface for loose boards that move when you step on or near them, as well as loose nails and screws. Bolts that anchor the porch to the home are particularly important.

Check posts for rot and for loose connections. In the case of rot, you'll likely need to simply replace the posts. Loose connections can be tightened and usually reinforced  by adding additional bolts. Railing posts should always be bolted in place -- nails alone are not strong enough for this job.

2) Cleaning A Porch

You probably sweep your porch regularly, but many people neglect to clean the cracks as well, which is even more important as trapped organic material can cause rot. A putty knife is the easiest way to scrape material out of the cracks.

After sweeping and crack-clearing, you're ready to scrub. There are two main schools of thought here: pressure washing, or doing it by hand. While pressure washing is certainly much faster and easier, it can also damage wood. The slow but safe route is to scrub a wood porch by hand with a porch brush. If old porch sealer is present, you'll need to strip it off with a porch stripper product. If it's your first time cleaning a surface and you aren't sure if sealer is present, just dribble a little water on it. If it puddles up rather than soaking in, there is sealer present.

The go-to substance for killing mold and mildew on wood porches has typically been chlorine bleach, since it is cheap, effective and available at nearly every retailer and grocery store. Both the EPA and OSHA have recently retracted their recommendations for using biocides like chlorine bleach for this purpose, however. Aside from presenting a toxic environmental hazard, bleach does not penetrate deeply enough into woods to get at the roots of mold, meaning that it's only a temporary fix that will have to be continually re-applied as the mold grows back out again (and continues to damage the wood). Fortunately, there is a safer and equally cheap substitute -- hydrogen peroxide. Oxygen bleach, also commonly called sodium percarbonate, is a much safer bleach alternative that won't do damage to wood. Just be aware that you will need to apply a porch brightener product afterwards or the wood may appear discolored.

The final step in treating a porch is applying a sealant or stain to both give the surface a nice finish and also help to repel water.

3) Railing Maintenance And Repair

Wood railings will require the same cleaning and sealing procedures described above. If you are building or restoring a porch, you might consider a composite material solely for the railings. Composite railings are available in a wide range of styles that closely match real wood, and they will cut down on maintenance as well as virtually eliminate the possibility of rot and cracking.

As mentioned above, if a post is simply wobbly or loose, it can likely be stabilized very simply by adding a couple of bolts. If it is severely cracked or rotted, however, then it needs to be replaced. Fortunately, this is a job you can easily do yourself. The first step is to detach the handrail, which may be a simple matter of removing screws or bolts. Nails are best pried with a pair of locking pliers or a diagonal cutter, with a scrap of wood underneath the pliers to protect the wood surface from scratching. Don't worry about nails that break off or otherwise are too deep to be retrieved, simply drill a pilot hole next to them to install a new screw that covers over top of the nail. If you don't have a suitable replacement post at hand, keep the old post and trace it out on a piece of lumber. You can then cut it to size yourself or have someone cut it for you. Don't forget to apply sealant or stain to it as well!

Fencing Direct specializes in synthetic fencing materials aimed at DIY installers, but from time to time may have wood kits and products in our clearance section. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about our inventory or what items might be suitable for your project.