Wood Porch Rail System Installation Instructions

These instructions are for our 4-piece Porch Rail System. For the 3-piece and 2-piece systems, simply skip the steps involving those pieces.

For easiest installation and best results, use our Rail Installation Kit. One kit per rail section.

  1. Determine & cut rail lengths
    1. With newel posts installed, measure distances between newels and cut rail sections to length. MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.
  2. On the newel, mark where the underside of the subrail will be.  With the 4 and 3-piece Systems, this will be 2 5/8” below the desired top rail height.  Install top (double wide) corner braces on the newels under this mark.
  3. Determine spindle/baluster spacing and mark centers on side of subrail and bottom rail.
    1. Check local building codes for maximum spacing.  Most codes dictate that the balustrade must comply with the “4-inch ball rule”.
    2. Spacing guidelines for the different sizes and designs of spindles and balusters can be found at www.westernspindle.com
    3. Using the maximum spacing as a guideline, determine the spacing that provides consistent look and spaces at the ends of each rail section.  Note: It may be necessary to vary spacing slightly between sections, depending on length.
  4. Install subrail on top of spindles/balusters
    1. For larger spindles such as 3 ½”, two screws in each spindle/baluster end may be used.
    2. Pre-drilling holes with an 1/8” drill bit will keep the parts from “wandering” while screwing them together.
  5. Flip the balustrade over. Install bottom rail onto spindles in the same way.
  6. Drill ½” holes every foot or so into the bottom edge of the skirt, 2 ¼” deep.  The bottom edge is the one with the beading detail closest to it.
  7. Fasten skirt to underside of bottom rail with screws.
  8. Install corner braces into underside of bottom rail, beside the skirt using the eight 1 ¼”  screws included in the Rail Installation Kit. You’ll need to switch to the provided T20 bit for these screws.
  9. Flip balustrade back upright.  Hang it the upper corner braces already installed on the newels.  Start the screws from the upper corner braces up into the subrail. Do not go all the way through yet.
  10. Fasten bottom corner braces to newel.
  11. Install top rail.  Finish screwing the upper corner braces.  Screw from the subrail up into the top rail every foot or so.
  12. Install support blocks on spans of 6’ and more.
    1. Cut the support blocks to length.
    2. Apply construction adhesive to top and bottom of support block.
  13. Final painting should be done after installation. If you’ve ordered your products pre-primed from Western Spindle, you can use either oil or water based paint. If you primed your products, see the instructions on your primer label.
  14. Take pictures of your completed work. Put the pictures and a glowing testimonial in an email to [email protected]. Then make yourself a refreshing beverage. Good job!

Related Articles:

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Bottom Rail: To Slope or Not to Slope?

Curved Porch Railing: the Ultimate in Exterior Architectural Millwork

How far apart should I space my spindles? How many do I need?

How To Cut Stair Spindles for Sloped Bottom Rail