Our front porch was begging for an update.
Eileen was determined to rid the porch of that 1980s blue since the day we moved in. She was a teacher at the time, and on her first afternoon of summer, she was out painting the porch white. This was only the beginning of the porch update – as gorgeous white porch railings were on the horizon too.
Here’s a before picture of the blue porch.
Painting the porch was a quick job, and as you can see in the below picture, the white made such a difference.
In addition to painting the porch, Eileen also painted the cabinet that housed the electric meter and Fios box. Before it was blue – so it drew your attention – yet, she painted it a creamy white color to make it blend in more.
It was only about a day’s work, and it looked great. However, something was missing.
Planning the Porch Railings
We wanted to liven up the front of our home even more. We thought a little more privacy would be nice too, so we decided to install porch railings.
Eileen was pregnant at the time, so she would often walk around the neighborhood with our dog. During their walks, she made it her mission to look at other styles of porch railings, deciding what she liked and how to make the porch railings work for our home.
Eventually we settled on a look and height for the porch railings that we thought would work well with our home.
Two Approaches to Installing Porch Railings
I considered two approaches to installing the porch railings. The first was prefabricated handrails sold at Home Depot. These were 6 ft painted railing segments, prefabricated or ready to bolt onto the posts. Using prefabricated porch railings would be the fastest way to install porch railings.
The second approach was buying the individual porch railing posts and handrails and constructing the segments myself.
I decided against the first porch railing method. Buying in increments of 6 ft meant a chunk of the prefabs would be wasted when fitted on our home.
Building the segments myself meant I could fine tune the cost to exactly the dimensions allowed by our porch, and this porch railing method yielded the cheapest outcome.
The downside was that more labor would be involved with installing the porch railings; however, I was never the one to back down from some good old hard work.
Choosing Materials for the Porch Railings
I measured the distances between my porch posts then off we went to Home Depot. We putzed around looking at porch railing posts and found a style we liked.
Then we looked at the handrails. We technically could have just gone with a 2 x 4 for the handrail, but we wanted a little more pizzazz.
Ultimately, we went with a handrail with some decorated grooves, and it came with slots for the rail posts, eliminating the need for me to space the posts out myself.
Before leaving the store, I picked up some galvanized L brackets to attach the handrails to the porch railing posts, and some 2 x 4s to serve as a base for the railings.
How to Install Porch Railings
With the porch railing materials ready to go and a free weekend ahead, I was ready to start installing the wood porch railings.
Constructing Porch Railing Segments
The next step in the porch railing installation was to construct 3 railing segments.
Two of the longer wooden segments faced the street, while a short segment on the side connected the masonry wall to the end post.
Porch railing construction was fairly simple. I used exterior deck screws to attach the handrail to the railing posts, and the pre-cut slots in the handrail on the individual posts definitely sped things up.
I actually constructed the segments in the living room while we were catching up on our shows. See picture below of our porch railing install:
Attaching the Segments to Porch Posts
Now it was time to attach the segments to the porch railing posts.
I cut some 2 x 4 squares to serve as “feet” for the segments. These feet were attached to the bottom of each porch post, and the segments would rest on them.
This foundation felt a lot more sturdy than simply using L brackets to mount the segments.
See picture below (ignore the fact that the railings are already painted).
The two longer railing segments installed quickly to the porch posts.
The bottoms were secured to the 2 x 4 feet, and the handrails were secured using L brackets to the porch posts.
Mounting the Porch Railings to the Brick Wall
The short side of the wood porch railing segment took a little more time due to a wood-to-brick mount required.
My solution was to bolt a piece of 2 x 4 to the brick wall and attach the porch railing segment to that. It would act just like the opposite end of the segment where the porch post was.
My first attempt at attaching the 2 x 4 to the wall failed.
I had tried using masonry nails but they started chipping the sides of the bricks. Then I remembered the very first drill I bought was a hammer drill!
When I bought this drill, I didn’t really know what the ‘hammer’ part meant. I was naive at the time, and it sounded cool and looked awesome. So I had bought the largest drill in the store.
Of course, now, I am wiser and know that hammer drills (when the hammer mode is engaged) repeatedly, driving the bit back and forth against the surface to help penetrate really tough surfaces like masonry.
Unfortunately, I did not have any masonry bits so had to run back out to Home Depot to pick some up. Regular wood bits would fail pitifully against a hard surface like brick.
Hammer Drill to the Porch Railing Rescue
I was excited to try out my hammer drill for its actual purpose. All these years I’d been using it (very inconveniently due to its enormous size) as a regular wood drill. I got back home with my new masonry bits and pounded away at the wall.
It sounded like a jackhammer, but it got the job done very neatly and quickly. I bored some holes through the 2 x 4 straight into the wall, and used some screws to make a secure connection.
Now I had a wooden mounting point for the porch railing segment. One minor task remained, and that was to drill out a small hole at the bottom edge of the 2 x 4 mount for some existing coaxial cable to run through.
Here’s a side picture showing where I needed to mount the shorter porch railing segment between a porch post and the masonry wall:
Painting the Porch Railings
After installing the wooden porch railings, the last step of the project was the painting. This was actually the most labor intensive part. I had to paint each individual railing post and it felt like it took forever with a brush.
Eileen normally does all of the painting on our projects, and since she was pregnant, I had to do it myself. Painting the wood porch railings would have went so quickly with a paint sprayer, but I did not have one of those.
Slowly though, the final picture started to take shape. I even repainted all the porch posts to make them pop with the railings.
Here’s a picture of the mounted rail segments being painted:
The white wood porch rails were finally done and they looked great.
Time & Cost of Installing Porch Railings
The total cost of the front porch railing installation was only $150, and it took a weekend of work.
Not only did the front porch railings enhance the aesthetics, but they were also very functional.
We started spending a lot more time on the front porch, as the railings gave us a little more privacy and also served as a wonderful enclosure for our dog Zeus.
We simply sat at the open end, and Zeus could be free to run back and forth within the confines of the front porch.
Below are some pictures of the front porch makeover:
Here’s a before and after of the whole front porch railing installation project. The difference was incredible – and the cost of update was beyond reasonable.
Our home got a nice upgrade with the fresh paint and front porch railings. It definitely boosted our curb appeal in a neighborhood of similar looking houses.
We were thrilled with how nice the front porch makeover looked, and so was our realtor when the time came to put the house on the market.
Check out how we sold our house in less than a week! I think the porch railings helped 🙂 If you have been wondering how to install porch railings, it’s a simple project that has a great pay-off.