Modern Porch Railing: A How-To (kinda)

With the weather warming up (at least in some parts of the globe!) we were getting antsy to move away from all the indoor stuff and start working outside. I’ve seen these amazing modern style railings in magazines and online, and knew it would be perfect for us! It had the right style, rustic yet simple. The problem? We had no clue how to execute it.

I searched online, but couldn’t find a tutorial explaining how this concept of cedar (or treated wood) and cattle panel came together in a sturdy railing. So though this isn’t an exact step-by-step tutorial I usually put together (I spent a lot of time resting inside with the kiddo while Jacob did all the hard work, hence the missing photos), but it does show how we made it happen. Here we go!

The first problem to overcome was how to add the posts. On a deck, you sink them into the ground. But on a concrete porch, you can either sink them into the ground next to the concrete and risk shifting or use one of these post brackets to secure it. Jacob started by marking the holes and pre-drilling the concrete. The brackets were actually slightly too small for the cedar posts, so he used a hand planer my neighbor had to shave off the edges until it slid into the bracket. Then he bolted everything down.


Next he measured a 2×4 to the height of the top of the post to the top of the bracket and screwed it into the post.


Next it was time for the top railing! With a 2×4 brace on all the posts (including the two large ones included in the original porch design), he measured the distance and cut the 2×4 railings. Then they were screwed directly into the posts and supports.


Once the tops were on, he measured for the bottom rail, also for a 2×4. Once those were screwed in, he measured the interior space for a 1×2 frame. The cattle panel is cut to size, fit into the front frame, then secured by stapling it to the first frame and adding in the back frame behind it.

Above you can see one frame on the left, and to the right the finished panel.

Ta da! We didn’t need much panel, and were able to use what was left over around the property. I love the sleek look it has. It totally fits in with the rest of the house.

And can I just say how incredibly nice it is now to have stairs? We had been hopping up and down the slab for ages, and Charlie loves that she can get around herself (with assistance, of course). There’s still some work to do. Jacob plans to face out the back of the steps so you don’t see through the gap, and we’re currently brainstorming ideas for the gate. I’d love one that slides. We also need a railing. We both like the idea of galvanized pipe for that. But we’ll see! For now we’re taking a breather and enjoying it in its current state. Like this fabulous seating area:

And our last minute addition, a bar area!

I do a lot of crawling around in my dad’s barn salvaging supplies, and found this amazing live-edge chunk of wood. I have no clue what type it is. I don’t think it started out as a live-edge cut either, it looks like it just weathered over time. So we cut off a straight edge on the end and notched out a spot on the left to fit around the post. And voila! Outdoor dining!

We added two braces to support it, and will also be bolting it down into the top railing below. I tossed in two of my Vintage Barstools for kicks, but they’ll be in my booth this April. We plan to add a rock patio later for our main dining area, with a larger table for family and friends. So this is mostly for casual dinners or just hanging out on a nice summer evening. I’m so excited for the weather to finally warm up so we can do that!

6 thoughts on “Modern Porch Railing: A How-To (kinda)

    1. Around here we like to call it “Southern Engineering”. It drives my husband insane, but I’m all about it!

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