There are many different styles of deck and porch railings. For our house, we decided to go with a wide horizontal style. Not only does this style have a more modern look, but it’s also very easy to build yourself. In this tutorial, I’ll show you step by step how you can build this type of railing for your deck or porch.
How tall does deck railing need to be?
Before you start building your deck or porch railing, it’s extremely important to make sure you are following your local building codes for railing height and spacing. The IRC (International Residential Code) requires that deck railing be at least 36″ in height. This should be measured from the deck or porch surface to the top of the railing. But you should also check your local building codes because counties and cities may have different requirements.
Not only do you have to make sure your railing is the right height, but you also must follow the code for baluster spacing or in this case spacing between each horizontal board. The IRC requires that the space between your balusters or boards must be less than 4″. To be on the safe side, I recommend using 3.5″ for your spacing. The last thing you want is to build your railing, and have an inspector not pass it because he’s able to fit a 4″ object through your railing.
Quantities and lengths will depend on your specific project needs.
- 6″ treated decking boards
- 2×3 treated lumber
- tape measurer
- miter saw or circular saw
- 3″ deck screws
- 2″ deck screws
- 1 1/2″ deck screws
For the horizontal deck railing, you’ll be using 6″ treated decking boards. But first, you’ll need something to fasten the boards to. Cut two pieces of 2×3 to 36″ in length. At the bottom of the post, measure 1″ from the middle of the post toward the inside of the porch and make a mark. Do the same 36″ from the bottom of the post.
Place the 2×3 against the post so that the front edge lines up with the two marks.
Use 3″ deck screws to fasten the 2×3 to the post.
Do the same to the other post.
Measure the distance between your two posts. Use this measurement to cut four pieces for 1×6. You can use either a miter saw or a circular saw. If using a circular saw, make sure you cut a nice straight edge on the ends.
Measure and mark on the outside of the 2x3s 3 1/2″ up from the deck surface. Place the first 1×6 up against the 2x3s so that the bottom edge lines up with these marks. Use your level to make sure the 1×6 is level. Make adjustments if you need to.
Tip: You can also cut a couple of scrap pieces of wood to 3 1/2″ to use as spacers. This will also help you hold the board in place while you fasten it to the 2x3s. Otherwise, you might need to get someone to help you hold it.
Use 2″ decking screws to fasten the 1×6 to the 2x3s. Place two in each end.
Repeat this step for the remaining 3 1x6s.
Cut another 1×6 the same length as the others. Place it flat on top of the top rail so that it is flush with the back edge of 1x3s
Use 2″ decking screws to fasten it to the top of the 2×3 and the top 1×6. Space the screws about 16″ apart.
If your section of railing is over 6 ft in length, you’ll need to add a vertical 1×6 in the middle to prevent the rails from drooping over time.
Cut a 1×6 to 36″ in length. Determine the midpoint between your two posts. Place the middle of the 1×6 on that point standing vertically and up against the back of the rails. Use 1 1/2″ decking screws to fasten this board to each of the rails.
Repeat steps 1-4 for the rest of your railing sections.
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