How to Build a Porch railing on Concrete

by Stephen Peters

You’re about to learn how to How to build a porch railing on concretebuild a porch railing on concrete. Setting the posts on concrete is quite different than on a deck where there are framing members to attach to. We want it to be both sturdy and beautiful. I like the beautiful part but if it isn’t “sturdy” it doesn’t look so good. So I will show you how I did both… on a recent front porch railing project in Portland Oregon.

How to build a porch railing on concrete: Cut out the parts

For this front porch railing the over all length of the rail section was less than eight feet long. So off to the lumber yard to get eight foot cedar 2×4’s for the hand rail and bottom rail. 2×2’s for the spindles. 1×6’s for the posts. Pressure treated 4×4’s for the centers of the posts and columns.

Porch hand rail

From a 2×4 we get both of these peices for the hand rail.

Once we have all the wood it is time to mill or cut the parts to the shape that we want them. Because the lumber yard didn’t have the style of hand rail needed for this porch. For the hand rail and the bottom rail I ripped 2 cedar 2×4’s to 2.75 inches wide on a table saw. We need to save both pieces.  The thinner piece will be used to attach the spindles to and to thicken the hand rail (see pictures).

For the hand rail we need to shape it so it looks like a loaf of bread.

How to build a porch railing

Two part hand rail to make assembly easier and to look beefier when finished.

Most of this is done on a table saw.

Set the table saw to a 10 degree angle and move the saw fence so the blade will nearly reach the center of the hand rail top. Then trim the sides also at 10 degrees. It is looking better but those sharp edges need to be taken off with a router. Then it is sanded to get rid of the saw marks and round off the edges. That looks better…. looks like the pictures. 🙂

How to build a porch railing on concrete: Making the post sturdy

This is the part that that is different about how to build a porch railing on concrete. Normally a post on a wood deck would only be attached at the bottom, but being that it is attached at the surface of existing concrete that can be a little wobbly. So I suggested to the homeowners that we make the post into a column to attach it to the ceiling above the porch. The home owners loved that idea. … oh goody! That will sure firm up porch railing.

Now we need to attach the post and column to the concrete porch.

build a porch railing

Post anchor for 4×4 to concrete

To do this I used a “Simpson” post brackets like in the picture/ drawing. Using a hammer drill to make a hole in porch to accept a 1/2 inch wedge anchors to drive into the concrete then tightened her down with a nut.

Once the “post bracket” is set then the 4×4 can be cut to length and placed in it’s new home. For the “post” that is not attached to the ceiling I added two more “wedge anchors” through the 4×4 and into the riser of the step behind it. The extra wedge anchors make this post a lot more sturdy…. it gets the wiggle out. Being that this railing is to be used like a grab bar the less wiggle the better.

Around the out side of the posts and column I miter the long edges of the 1×6 cedar, prime them and cut to length.

Porch post for rails

Mitered 1×6’s are assembled …. three sides on the bench

I assemble three sides together, then take that unit and slip it around the 4×4 post.

Shimming it to be sure that it is level then nail it to the 4×4 and finally attach the fourth side to make it look like one timber.

How to build a porch railing on concrete:

Place the rails and spindles

Now that the posts are in place it is time to set the lower rail in place… typically no more than 4 inches above the porch. You can use a block cut to four inches under both ends to hold it where it you want it while you secure it with screws that have pilot holes drilled.

Next it is time to put in the spindles. Remember the two thin strips cut off the rails earlier?

Porch handrail spindles

Put two finish nail in the thin strips then a long screw in the middle into the spindles

Well now it is time to use them. The ones I used were about 5/8 inch by 1-1/2 inches. We will now cut these to the same length as the rails, mark out where the spindles go and we will attach these to the spindles. Top and bottom.

With the “unit” of spindles attach this to the lower rail with a few finish nails and caulking. I used stainless steal nails. Lay the Top “hand rail” on the “spindle unit”, center it and nail together. Now the whole top rail can be secured with screws to the post.

Stand back and admire the work. 😉 At this point all the joints will need caulking to look perfect. Fill the nail holes with your favorite filler, the screw holes will need an epoxy filler, which is durable for outside work.

All finished wood was primed on all surfaces before assembly. Paint with a durable out door paint. I used Sherwin-Williams “Duration” in “satin”. None of the wood in this project comes in contact with the concrete porch and all the joints were glued with a flexible caulking before being joined together.

Lots of steps but it looks great and is sturdy to hang on to. It will last for many years to come and adds to the curb appeal of this home. So there you have it, how to build a porch railing on concrete.

 

Wishing you success in all your home improvements,

 

What do you think? What else would you like to see-hear about? Leave me a Comment below.

 

 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sig

Quick question: would this be stable if you don’t have a covered porch ceiling to mount it against? Thanks

Reply

Stephen Peters

Sig….. not the way this railing was put together. However there are other ways to get the additional support needed without the help of the porch ceiling. Like using the riser of a step … or cutting and pouring new concrete with anchors…. do you have any other ideas?

Reply

Aysha Haque

Hi Stephens!

Definitely an informative post for me! Loved this article till end!

Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing!

I am going to share with my friends on social sites Facebook!

Keep it up!

Reply

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