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How To Restore a Porch Railing

Learn how to restore a water-damaged original handrail around a porch, with a new beveled bottom rail to keep the water from damaging the spindles.

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restore water damaged original handrail on porch
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Dismantle the Rotted Balustrade

Remove any existing nails using a hammer and pry bar. Then, scrape off any loose paint using a carbide scraper or sander.

Step 2: Replace the Existing Flat Bottom Rail

Cut a new bottom rail out of the new fir or cypress material by beveling it, on the table saw or using a hand plane, approximately seven degrees. Sand to a smooth finish with belt sander.

cut new bottom rail out of new fir or cypress

Step 3: Add a Bevel to the Spindles

Cut the bottom of each spindle to correspond to the angle of the bottom railing using a compound miter saw or sliding compound miter saw. Lay out the spacing on the new bottom rail. Apply an oil based primer to the spindles and bottom rail. Allow at least 30 minutes to dry.

lay out spacing on new bottom rail

Step 4: Reassemble the Balustrade

Nail or screw the spindles in from the bottom of the rail (Image 1), then repeat on the top rail with the same spacing. Reuse the top hand rail and connect the balustrade to the columns using 2 1/2 inch galvanized finish nails, or stainless steel screws. Use the two-part polyester wood filler as needed to patch any holes (Image 2). Using an orbital sander, sand the wood filler after it has dried. Complete by priming the wood and caulking the nail holes. Finish with a final coat of paint.

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