OT - porch railing

After 19 years in our home, the insurance company has decided we need a railing on our front porch. Nobody had ever fallen off, but I guess they're getting a little more picky after the recent disasters they've been paying for - or paying the lawyers to avoid paying for :-).
Anyway, I'm going to make the posts from 4x4s, notched to fit over the edge of the porch. Two inches thickness on the porch leaving 1.5" thickness for attaching to the joists.
The notched joists are common in our area and look a lot better than a full 4x4 on the edge. But it seems to me that leaning on the rail with sufficient weight would tend to start a split at the end of the notch. I'm thinking of running a 3" screw or lag bolt into the post, or maybe a through bolt, just above the notch to guard against this. Will this work as I think it will?
--
It's turtles, all the way down

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Larry Blanchard wrote:

I'd find a way to use the full4x4, perhaps by pulling a deck board, installing the post inside the rim joist, and cutting the deck board to clear the post. Phil Brown
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In addition to the insuranceman's lawyer your locality's building code may or may not have something to say about the railing's construction.
On my back porch there are notched 4x4 posts as you've described. However, the "tails" are on the *inside* of the rim joist, not the outside. That way, when leaning against the rail the 2" thick portion of the cutout bears the weight - and it's resting on the rim joist. The tail, being screwed to the inside of the rim joist, holds it all in place. (I'd check if they're just screws or lag bolts but it's raining just now....)
This is a much better and safer arrangement than putting the tails on the outside of the rim joist. Eventually that will cause the splitting you're concerned about.
J.
Larry Blanchard wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I really can't see what the problem is, other than aesthetics. Even with the notch as described, and the upright fastened (either lag bolted or screwed) to the rim joist, you still have a full 2" thick post supporting your railing. This is even if the 4X4 splits. I am not certain how much force would be required to cause a 2" thick post to fail across the grain but I suspect it would be more than mere leaning against the railing or post.
This is just my opinion and I will admit I am not an engineer, archetecht or other professional. I have, however, had a decl woth a railing as described for almost 30 years with no problems or other failure.
I will also admit that it would be preferable to mount full 4X4s to the inside of the deck structure and notch the deck boards around them.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
An inlaw's porch rail had the tails on the outside. While no one got injured, there was a loud crack once and a big outward sag in the railing at a family gathering as several of the collected family members all leaned against it, beers in hand.
J.
Doug Brown wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Brown wrote:

And indeed, if I were building the porch, that is what I'd do. But it's an existing structure (porch, not deck) and I'd have to do considerably more work to rebuild it in that manner.
Since the porch will be occupied only by 2 seniors and the occasional guest, I think I'll just go with the notched posts, reinforced as described.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Brown wrote:

It wouldn't be across the grain. it would be with the grain. IOW, the post might split upwards from the notch.
My original question remains unanswered. Would a bolt/screw/lagbolt through the post just above the notch resist such splitting? I think it would, but wondered if others agreed.
-- It's turtles, all the way down
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't know. But I'm going to guess that it won't add anything to a sound, pressure treated post and it might actually weaken an untreated cedar one. And given the gentle use it's going to get from you anyway, it's probably not worth the extra work.
J.
Larry Blanchard wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Reducing the depth of the notch would likely do more to resist splitting than adding extra bolts. Make the notch 1" or 1 1/2" deep, leaving more than half the thickness of the post to fasten through. Like J. said, extra fasteners might weaken the post in other ways.
-MJ
Doug Brown wrote:

It wouldn't be across the grain. it would be with the grain. IOW, the post might split upwards from the notch.
My original question remains unanswered. Would a bolt/screw/lagbolt through the post just above the notch resist such splitting? I think it would, but wondered if others agreed.
--
It's turtles, all the way down



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
They posts are thru bolted with carriage bolts.
J. wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.