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Elegant Porch Railing

Add some pizzazz to your porch with a railing that's rich in character and substantial enough to hold a row of flower-filled containers.

Porch Rail Project

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1-2 weeks

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Corded/cordless electric drill
  • Pocket-hole jig (such as a Kreg jig)
  • 2 small clamps
  • Drill bit: 1/16-inch twist drill
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver or driver bit
  • Paintbrush

For one 36" h x 59" l x 5.5" d railing:

  • 1 (6-ft) 4x4-inch pressure-treated post (#121121)
  • 3 (8-ft) 1x2-inch pressure-treated boards (#201999)
  • 2 (8-ft) 1x4-inch pressure-treated boards (#201711)
  • 1 (8-ft) 1x6-inch pressure-treated board (#201722)
  • 1 (8-ft) 2x4-inch pressure-treated board (#46905)
  • 1 (8-ft) 2x6-inch pressure-treated board (#30906)
  • 1 box 1.25" deck screws (#10777)
  • 1 box 2" deck screws (#7900)
  • 1 box 2.5" deck screws (#17365)
  • 1 box 3" deck screws (#9457)
  • 2 4x4" post anchors (#97361)
  • 2 pkgs. 1.5" severe weather stainless steel screws, white (#250236, model #73003464)
  • 1 gallon Olympic solid-color stain, white (#23007)

    Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

    Missing anything? Shop Online

    Project Resources


    Prepare the Parts

    Step 1

    Porch Rail Project

    Referring to the Project Diagram and Materials and Cutting List, crosscut the following parts to size from pressure-treated lumber. From a 4x4, cut the posts (A) to the specified length.

    Step 2

    From a 1x6, cut the large slats (B) to length.

    Step 3

    From 1x2s, cut the small slats (C) to length. Also, to make the slat-spacing jig (above), cut the base and eight spacer blocks to the lengths shown. Draw a line across the base 3/4-inch from each end. To position the blocks, lay out the three 5-1/2-inch wide large slats (B), six 1-1/2-inch-wide small slats (C), four 3-inch-long blocks, and four 3/4-inch-long blocks on the base between the marked lines in the configuration shown. Keeping the slats and blocks tight together, drive 3d finish nails to attach the blocks to the base.

    Step 4

    From 1x4s, cut the slat rails (D) to length.

    Step 5

    From a 2x4, cut the bottom rail (E) to length.

    Step 6

    From a 2x6, cut the cap (F) to length (59 inches for one section of railing).

    Assemble the Railing

    Step 1

    Using a pocket-hole jig, drill a pair of holes at each end of the bottom rail (E), where shown. On a flat surface, lay out the posts (A) and bottom rail, positioning the rail 3-1/2 inches from the bottom of the posts, where dimensioned. Drive 1-1/2-inch severe-weather stainless steel screws through the holes in the rail and into the posts.

    Step 2

    Place 4x4 post anchors over the bottoms of the posts. Set the post/rail assembly upright in the desired location and 5 inches from your wall or column to allow for the overhang of the cap (F). Mark the locations of the anchors on the floor. Remove the anchors from the post/rail assembly. Drill mounting holes, and drive suitable fasteners to secure the anchors. Reposition the post/rail assembly on the anchors. Drill mounting holes, and drive 2-1/2-inch deck screws through the anchors and into the posts to secure the assembly.

    Good to Know

    If you plan to install additional railing sections, mount all of the posts (A) and bottom rails (E) at this time.

    Step 3

    Drill pocket holes into the ends and along one edge of a pair of slat rails (D), where shown. Position the bottom slat rail on the bottom rail (E) 5/8 inch from the edge of the rail. Drive 1-1/2-inch severe-weather stainless steel screws through the holes in the slat rail into the posts (A) and bottom rail. Next, position the top slat rail in place, again inset 5/8 inch, and in line with the bottom slat rail. Drive the screws into the posts. Make sure the pocket holes along the edge of the slat rail are at the top so that you can drive screws into the cap (F) later.

    Step 4

    To install the large slats (B) and small slats (C), clamp the slat-spacing jig to the top edge of the bottom slat rail (D) with the spacer blocks facing inside. Place the large and small slats between the spacer blocks in the arrangement shown. Drill mounting holes through the slats and into the slat rail. Drive 1-1/4-inch deck screws. Next, slide the jig up the slats until it contacts the top slat rail. Clamp the jig to the rail. Again, drill the mounting holes and drive the screws to secure the slats. Now position the remaining slat rails (D) against the slats. Drill mounting holes through the rails and large slats (B) and into the back slat rails, where shown. Drive 2-inch deck screws.

    Step 5

    Place the cap (F) on the posts (A), centered side to side with a 5-inch overhang at each end. To toenail-screw the cap to the wall or column, drill angled mounting holes through the cap and into the supporting structure, where shown. Drive 3-inch deck screws. Next, drive 1-1/2-inch severe-weather stainless steel screws through the previously drilled pocket holes in the top slat rail (D) into the cap.

    Finishing Touches
    Stain the railing a color of your choice. We used Olympic solid-color stain, white #23007, following the manufacturer's instructions.

    This project requires only crosscuts of standard dimensional lumber using a table saw or miter saw. To ensure identical lengths of multiple parts for a square assembly, use an auxiliary fence and a stop block on your saw. Select the clearest (least knotted) and straightest boards you can find. This provides for the best appearance and easiest assembly.

    Pressure-treated lumber is likely to have high moisture content when you buy it. If your boards feel wet and heavy, set them aside for a week or longer to dry out. Stack (sticker) the boards with spacers to allow air circulation, and keep the boards in a dry place out of direct sunlight, such as your garage or shop. If you cut wet lumber and assemble a project with it, the parts are likely to warp or crack around fasteners as the wood dries.

    The instructions below explain how to build one section of railing. You can extend the railing to suit your space by adding sections, as we did for the featured porch. Simply add slats and rails -- parts B, C, D and E -- between 4x4 posts (A) as needed. Also, cut the cap (F) 10 inches longer than the completed rail assembly to provide a 5-inch overhang from each post at the ends.

    The railing assembles with deck screws, and severe-weather stainless steel screws in pocket holes. You'll need a simple pocket-hole jig to drill these holes.

    A quick-to-build slat-spacing jig makes it easy to align and mount the large slats (B) and small slats (C). You can make the jig from an 8-foot 1x2, as explained in the instructions.