The “Deja Vu” Rails

Rickety, unsafe porch rails, wobbling and in desperate need of replacement. It was all very deja vu, in every way similar to a project we did a few years ago. This time it would be for a similarly kind couple in University Park.

And just like the previous project the 4×4 posts on the stoop were barely holding on, sitting in rusty brackets affixed to the stoop with equally rusty (and small) bolts. It’s just kinda’ shoddy porch rail construction, and we see a lot of it, particularly on homes built within the last thirty or forty years. Additionally, a late summer storm had brought a large branch down on one side, making the whole situation even flimsier. Time for a complete rebuild.

Since we’ve done a lot of rail replacements, and this one mirrored a previous project, it would be pretty straightforward — we did exactly as before:

Demo the old rails, dig 4 deep holes for beefier 6×6 posts, anchor them in the ground with a few bags of concrete apiece, hex bolt the new posts to the brick stoop, and then run rails in a similar pattern to the old ones. We crafted the half posts abutting the house out of 2x4s and 2x6s and secured them to the house with several long screws each. Since demolition of the old rails had left some bolt holes in the pad we went the extra mile and filled them with some mortar caulk.

The final touch was the installation of treated wood post caps that we’d advised our clients to purchase before the project began.

The clients LOVE the new look, commenting, “Wow, it makes our front porch look bigger!” And it really does.

Removing the top front posts from the stoop entirely creates a more open, spacious pad. Whereas the old bottom rails sat directly on top of the steps, the new ones are considerably higher, giving the steps more real estate. Beefier 6×6 posts translate a more substantial entrance, making the whole facade of the house appear larger.

It all just feels more appropriate for the architecture of the house. The clients plan on painting the new rails white to complete the new look.

There was an additional, side element to this project: Replacing severely rotted steps and stringers on the back deck. They were a hazard; it had gotten so bad that the clients avoided the deck almost entirely. So, we fashioned sturdy new stringers and steps out of new treated lumber. Big improvement.

The clients were again pleased with the results. Now, they (and the family dog) no longer feel like they’re going to fall through, and can navigate the deck with ease.

As always, happy clients; happy Old Raleigh Carpentry!