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gthigpen

Front porch railing - need opinion

6 years ago

Next project for us to finish is our porch railings. You have to use your imagination a bit as not everything is complete. The bottom of the house and the bottom of the porch columns will eventually have stone on them.

Our neighbor brought over these porch railings for us to see what we think (his company makes them). He brought over black, but they come in white also. I know I'd definitely prefer the white because there is no black at all on the house now. But these railings are aluminum. My first reaction was NOPE, I want wood (or some wood composite). But before I completely reject the idea, was wondering what ya'll opinions are on using an aluminum railing on a very traditional house and on a very large prominent front porch? Windows are wood, trim is wood and porch floor is wood.

My DH is a fan because it's easy. I totally get it...we've put a bunch of sweat equity into this house and I know it's wearing on him. So if he sees an easier path to get something done, he's all over it. But I don't want to mess it up.

Comments (31)

  • 6 years ago
    Can your neighbor provide a sample in white as well? The black appears to tie into your light fixture, ceiling fan, and exterior fence. IMO it is not a bad option. In reference to the railings being aluminum, low maintenance sounds great to me.
    gthigpen thanked Joy M
  • 6 years ago

    I can't weigh in on the aluminum/wood debate - but white would definitely work better in my opinion. But wow, I LOVE your house!

    gthigpen thanked gigirambles
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  • 6 years ago

    Your house would look very nice with no railings at all!

    gthigpen thanked seabornman
  • 6 years ago

    The nice thing about the aluminum railing is that they are low maintenance. No painting, no rot. It is also a less visual obstruction. Of course I am about low maintenance on a house. The only thing that is painted on my house is the front door.

    gthigpen thanked functionthenlook
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Me no likey.

    gthigpen thanked Joseph Corlett, LLC
  • 6 years ago

    No to the aluminum. A wood railing and pickets would be perfect for your lovely house IMO.

    gthigpen thanked sis33
  • 6 years ago

    Absolutely not.

    gthigpen thanked cpartist
  • 6 years ago

    Go with your first gut reaction. It's best. :-)

    gthigpen thanked One Devoted Dame
  • 6 years ago

    2 thoughts - do you really NEED railings? and if so, I don't actually find these all that objectionable - mostly because of the 2x2 wood pickets are a huge view blocker / visual break, and I think these are airier. Your fan / door hardware look ORB-y as a finish - possible to make metal railings look like that?

    Your house is so lovely.

    gthigpen thanked just_janni
  • 6 years ago
    I don’t think you need railings. But aluminum is much sturdier and low maintenance. It is used in Europe everywhere for its low maintenance.
    gthigpen thanked grewa002
  • 6 years ago

    Traditional house = wood railing.

    gthigpen thanked zorroslw1
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks all! Sounds like the majority are thinking like me. Wood railings only.

    The porch doesn't need railings at all (porch is low enough to the ground that it's within code to not require them). The problem is on the architect renderings of the house, he drew a railing. So to completely comply/align with our permits, a railing must be installed for the city to deem our house complete. We could resubmit the drawings with no railing, but that's an additional permit fee which ain't cheap in this city.

    So I like the look of a railing just fine. It does make the porch 'cozier' and adds to the traditionalness of it.

    I'll go break the news to DH that the experts have weighed in. No easy way out this time!

  • 6 years ago

    I like traditional wood as well. I know you 'need' the railings for the house to be complete, but- What would happen if you removed them after the fact? If you could get away with that, then use the cheapest solution available.

    I drew all sorts of pretty Craftsman-type railings to go with our very traditional columns, but after actually using the porch a while, we decided not to have any at all. I've even considered making some in removable panels so I could have the best of both worlds.

  • 6 years ago

    mushcreek has a point. And looks like railings are basically free to borrow.

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Agree with Mush. The IRC (the code used by most of the USA) only requires a railing for a surface more the 30" above grade. It looks like you're way under that.

    What I would suggest is pay attention to the space between the grade and the porch framing (and trim out the deck framing while you're at it). I know you have landscaping there but it still looks unfinished. Some type of lattice is an age old solution but for an "updated" farmhouse maybe use horizontal 1x4's or 6's like I did here in this production house for a cleaner look.

  • 6 years ago

    Mushcreek - yes, we go back and forth on whether to put up something temporary or not. Still a possibility if we ultimately decide to go without.

    ARG - Yes, agree. The underside of the porch still needs to be finished. Our landscaping hasn't even started yet either. Those ferns are actually just in pots that we will hang. Not sure why my DH placed them there. I'm not a big fan of lattice. I like those horizontal boards as well.

  • 6 years ago

    I'll vote on the side of no railing. They aren't required and I think the house will look better without them. If you do add one, keep it low. Code requires a tall railing where they are required that will look completely out of place on your house.

  • 6 years ago

    gthigpen..

    We have to have railing on our front and side porch and are using aluminum from this company in the 9900 series. We are also using powder coated aluminum on our screen porch and deck in the back from a different company. It won’t look quite as good as wood. But we want low maintenance.

    This is our railing from their site.

    http://www.superioraluminum.com/products/aluminum-railing/series-9000


  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    IRL - That railing looks quite good! From a distance, I would have have guessed it was wood. The railing from our neighbor was 'cheaper' looking than that. From what I understand, his company is just venturing into the railing product line so I'm sure the options are limited from his company. He just brought over those black ones from my original picture to take some pictures for some potential customers. Not exactly sure the details....my DH and him were communicating. Yours will look great and YAY! for low maintenance!

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ok, all the comments about NO porch railing got me thinking. Here are two VERY rudimentary doctored pictures. I don't have photoshop so this is simply an attempt to paste some internet pictures in places to help visualize.

    Fake/pasted portion of the photo are railings, stonework at bottom of the columns, front steps and the 'panels' between grade and porch framing. Also fake are the hanging ferns (we have them, just not hung up yet) and the flower window box by the door.

    And of course, use your imagination that there will be significant landscaping done and there will be a sidewalk/pavers/stone path (note sure exactly) from front steps to driveway. This is also an older photo where now I have some patio furniture on both sides and a porch swing will be on the left side. Oh, and the very bottom of our porch columns still don't have the final wrap on them. There will be a wide board (8-10"?) around each column at the bottom where it meets the porch.

    First photo......wood traditional railings (2x2 pickets) and the horizontal boards from ARG's photo above between porch framing and grade.

    Second photo, no railings and picked a different 'panel' between porch framing and grade. Just to show another option, but not married to either of these.

    So what say you.....Railing or no railing?

  • 6 years ago

    I say skip the railing

    gthigpen thanked andria564
  • 6 years ago
    I am probably in the minority, but I like the railing. It completes the front of the house and also lends a modicum of privacy when you are on the porch. Plus, you can sort of hide things (kids’ toys, watering can, outdoor shoes etc.). I mean, not that we *ever* fail to put everything away immediately at my house....;-)
    gthigpen thanked BittyHaus926
  • 6 years ago

    I agree with Andria. Either way..your house turned out so nice...And I remember when we were all futzing around with your front door and windows!

    gthigpen thanked ILoveRed
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Sorry...but, is a railing required or not?

    gthigpen thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I don't think you can go wrong, really, either way. :-)

    I like the railing. By visually "blocking" part of the facade, it has the effect of funneling you toward the front door. Add a brick or stone pathway, lined with low-growing flowers, and you'd be all set, lol.

    gthigpen thanked One Devoted Dame
  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Virgil - It's not required by code. But our elevations have one drawn so the city won't bless off our house without one. So our options are:

    1) Put in a permanent railing....wood, nice, traditional. City loves us and we move on. Will spend $$ on a nice railing.

    2) Put in a temporary cheap railing. City loves us and when they leave, we take it down. Will spend some $ on a cheap railing which will ultimately be wasted when we take it down.

    3) Resubmit the drawings without a railing. More $$ for basically pulling another permit. Plus dealing with the city again. But then we don't have to put up anything and can focus on another project.

    At this time, I don't know the cost differential between nice railing, cheap railing and the additional permit cost. So from a cost perspective, I can't factor that into my decision at the moment.

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    ILR - thank you! I'm so happy I asked this forum about my front. I love the way it turned out both inside and out. The off center door doesn't bother me one bit and I feel like it's supposed to be this way. Not sure the result would have been same if I hadn't gotten such great ideas here. I love our architect, but he was really hung up on symmetry in this case, at the expense of a practical foyer. But he was great in that he made whatever changes I asked for and a few more that made it even better.

  • 6 years ago

    I guess there are some advantages to living in the middle of nowhere. No one cares if we change anything or leave something off of our house as long as we are in our setbacks.

    how much $$$ is another permit and do you have to pay your architect to re-draw the facade without the railings...to submit it to the city?


  • 6 years ago

    The door is perfect!

  • 6 years ago

    ILR - Not sure what our architect would charge us. Probably nothing as he's a friend of ours. But I also don't want to take advantage.

    Thanks everyone for your opinions. I'm probably 50/50 on railing vs not. I think it would look nice either way. I do think that the railing does make it a bit more finished, but I also think that once the landscaping is done, that will help also.

    But I sent these photo's to my DH and he prefers a railing. If I'm 50/50 and he has a preference to one way or the other, I always defer to his preference. So problem solved and the city will be happy too.

    One thing I was just mildly considering but now I'm completely sold on is the window box. So my 'photoshop' skilz were good for something! :)