July 12, 2024


Swing Your Home

Front Porch Railing: Remove It or Repair It?


Front porch railing — some homeowners love it, some hate it, and some absolutely need it.  

This railing can make your front porch feel cozy or claustrophobic. Whether or not you need it is up to you and your style.

White front porch railing with green top rail
There are four basic components of front porch railing.

What are the Parts in Front Porch Railing?

A front porch railing has four basic components: posts, a top rail, a bottom (base) rail and balusters. 

The posts are the thickest vertical planks of wood that hold your horizontal top and bottom rails. 

The balusters are the vertical slats of wood between the top and bottom rails.

Rotting wood front porch balusters
If your wood railing is rotting, you can remove it, or repair it.

Removing Railing

If your front porch railing seems more like confinement than a retreat, you can remove it to have a clear and open view of your yard. 

Also, if your railing is rotting, that’s even more reason to get rid of it. The most common cause for a rail to rot is the bottom of the railing not being painted while it’s being built.

Even though the bottoms of the balusters aren’t visible, it’s still vital to paint them. The unpainted wood will soak up water like a paper towel and accelerate rot.

Also, if the railing is made with untreated wood, this could further accelerate rotting.

First, you’ll need a mallet or hammer. Knock out the balusters down one by one, and then remove the top and bottom railings.  

After removing the front porch railing, apply putty and sand the columns so it’s like they were never there, to begin with.

This railing was easier to remove because the base railing was a few inches off of the ground. If you don’t have a base railing and your balusters are embedded in the concrete, you’ll need to get a utility knife to dig out the wood railing within the concrete, then patch the hole with a concrete patcher. 

Repairing a porch bottom rail with plywood
This method for repairing front porch railing will also strengthen the balusters.

Repair Front Porch Railing

One thing to consider if you are thinking about removing front porch railing is safety. Does the railing keep children out of harm’s way?

If safety is your concern, you need to make sure your rails are functional. The purpose of front porch railing is to be held onto, so it should be able to hold your weight.

Also, what if you need it in the future?

Now more than ever, people are desiring to age in place, so will this railing be useful later on? Or, do you have an aging relative who could be living with you sometime in the future?

Keep railing height in mind. To be compliant with the American Disabilities Act, the front porch railing must be 34-38 inches high.

If you want to keep the railing for these reasons but it’s in bad condition, you can repair it.

Create two plywood forms and clamp them on the top and bottom of the rail. Then, use a plastic putty knife, and apply auto body filler to the front of the rail. Paint the forms to match your railing.

Watch ‘Tip for Repairing Damaged Porch Railing‘ here.

Front of a house with grey shutters, ferns and a rocking chair plus a pine-straw garden bed
Having the right type of plants can transform the look of your front porch.

Other Ways to Add Front Porch Curb Appeal

Whether you decide to ditch the railing or keep it for safety reasons, there are more ways to add some curb appeal to your front porch.

Change up the color scheme. A new paint color can elevate your home’s exterior. Paint shutters and the front door for a punch of fresh color.  

If the concrete floor of your porch is looking a little dull, add some character to it with a paint stencil. Watch ‘How to Stencil a Pattern on a Concrete Porch‘ to learn how to do it.

Finally, replace overgrown shrubs with lower plants spread out in a larger bed to cover a wider area.

Watch the video above to see what a difference these changes make!

Further Reading


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