View Full Version : Porch Rail Replacement

Jerry Solomon
05-19-2003, 2:09 PM
I have a pair of 11 ft. rails on my front porch. They are simple designs with a formed top rail and 1" square spindles. The top rail has deteriorated over the past 25 years and is about ready for replacement. The spindles and lower rail seem to be in better condition. I think I can saw each top rail near the ends and tap the loose piece upward off of the spindles. The spindles are nailed vertically at the top through the top rail. I think this is why the rails have split and rotted so I will find a better way to attach the new one. The question is...would it be better to use a PT top rail or some other type of wood? I've heard about problems in getting paint to stick to PT lumber and the piece has to be painted. Your thoughts?

John Miliunas
05-19-2003, 2:41 PM
Jerry, this is my experience with PT rails (other project parts, too) and is my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. First, PT is notorious in the Warp Department (and I'm not talking Star Trek here, either!). It seems that no matter how well I prep, accurately cut and install, it ends up looking "different" after a short time of drying out. If you do intend on painting, I would definitely let it weather a bit, in hopes of drying out some. My "best" results have been with oil-based paint.

On the other side of the coin, as long as that's the only piece you really need to replace, I would certainly consider Cedar or Redwood as a more viable solution. More expensive, but much more stable in either case. I've even used White Oak, with a healthy coat or two of some high quality oil paint and it's held up extremely well. Of course, YMMV. :cool:

Tony Laros
05-19-2003, 3:33 PM
I would use cedar instead of PT. As far as attaching the existing pickets, use a 1"by " dado on the underside of the rail, and use a "by x" in the dado between the pickets. All underside fasteners will be hidden this way.

Joe Tonich
05-19-2003, 6:04 PM
If it's going to be painted, (sealed), why couldn't you use poplar or pine? One of my sawyers out-buildings are all sided with poplar.


Jerry Solomon
05-19-2003, 10:40 PM
Thanks to everyone for the feedback. While I haven't done much looking for materials (quick trip to HD), so far the only materials I have seen so far are PT and plastic (PVC). Are these parts readily available in redwood, poplar, etc. or would I have to get a 2x4 in that material and mill it myself?

John Miliunas
05-19-2003, 11:53 PM
While we do have HD here, we also have a more local version of the Big Box (Menard's) and I'm pretty sure I've seen what you're looking for in brown PT and Cedar. If you don't have it locally, it really wouldn't be that hard to pick the wood of your choice and mill out the underside dado and, if preferred, put on some profile on the top. :cool: